The MeFite as reader ... it's your weekly free thread
February 12, 2024 12:38 AM   Subscribe

What are you reading - something you wrote last week? A Valentine's day card from scarabic? A recipe? A blog? Tax filing instructions? Safety information? A novel? Techniques? A print newspaper? The ingredients on a food product? The weather forecast? A flight ticket? Song lyrics? A job advert? Ferry times? A diner menu? A trail guide? This post? A comment you wrote? A comment you regret writing? Or talk about anything and everything in your life and your world as this is your free thread.
posted by Wordshore (132 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Read-through number 3 of the new Murderbot novel, after a 6th read of the rest of the series. This is how I normally interact with fiction: closer to a meditative exercise than entertainment.

It’s not as good as the rest, IMO, but it’s still pretty good. Makes me miss Wayfarers, for some reason.
posted by Ryvar at 1:19 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]

I just started the third in a series of thrillers about a lesbian spy/detective. I had loved the first when it came out a few years ago but hadn’t kept track of the author, so when I found out just before Christmas that there are now two more, onto the wish list they went.
posted by eirias at 1:54 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

Silver Nitrate, by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia. Horror novel about the Mexican horror film industry. Enjoying it so far.

And just finished reading through all the Heartstopper graphic novels, after watching the show. I know I'm late to the party on those, but very glad I got there eventually.
posted by kyrademon at 1:56 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

I prefer non romantic cozy fiction, which anyone who looks at my Fanfare posts can tell, but I read all kinds of things. Right now I am reading Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds based off a Fanfare thread on another of his novels. Next up is Jasper Fforde's Red Side Story, which is the follow up to Shades of Grey, I think his best novel.

Also, I'm always on the lookout for more books about weird America (or weird anywhere to be honest). I'm not into urban fantasy particularly, but stuff that deals with like American esotericisim, which might include magic, is something I will always read. Jim Dodge or certain Pynchon or Tom Robbins, are good examples of what I like, but unfortunately they are so often weighed down with weird racism and misogyny. If only...oh, you know who handles it well? Matt Ruff!
posted by Literaryhero at 2:20 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

Was watching the Superbowl but was absolutely floored by news that Kelvin Kiptum, the world record holder in the marathon, had died suddenly in a car crash in his native Kenya. He had just set the record of 2:00:35 in his third ever race last year. I'm a runner myself and was excited to follow this guy as he would have undoubtedly run a marathon in under 2 hours - one of those feats that seems utterly superhuman. If any of us run a half marathon in 2 hours you should consider it a job well done. This guy was covering 42.2km in that time - most people would probably struggle to bicycle 42.2 km in 2 hours.

I know there's a dedicated post now so will leave a comment, but every runner I know is in utter shock. It's like Patrick Mahomes dying in a car crash next week.
posted by fortitude25 at 3:24 AM on February 12 [9 favorites]

I'm still in a bit of "my brain is exploding" information-overload stage from the new job. I'm a little scared right now of how much there's going to be to DO. But I'm just reminding myself that a) this is all stuff I can do, b) it maybe just FEELS like a lot because I'm coming off 6 months of part-time employment and 3 years where I was given so little to do I was getting bored, and c) this is a company that REALLY, REALLY values work-life balance (three people have reminded me that "so, on those days when you have the board meetings where you'd stay late, you can totally come to work late the following day").

I spent the past couple Saturdays overhauling my home office - doing a lot of cleanup and reorganizing - to prepare conditions for working from home on Fridays. Things were largely settled by Saturday night - so on Sunday I brought myself on a little walk around my neighborhood, a satchel of books in hand, to find a coffee shop to curl up in and read a bit. (Tangential small complaints - coffee shops used to have big comfy chairs and couches, where did those all go?) This month's book club outing is In The City Of Lost Things by Paul Auster, and I got a good way into that - found a coffee shop about 2 blocks from home, around the corner from my local library branch, and it even has a little two-person table that's tucked into a little nook that effectively is a snug. I may make this a weekly habit, in fact (alternating that shop with another one 2 blocks in the other direction, which offers a rose-cardamom latte on the menu).

I started giving the local library a lot more attention when I first lost my job - I had been developing a bit of an impulsive book habit on Amazon, and knew I need to cut it out, so I turned that "Oh, I'm bored and I'm idly curious about this random thing, let me browse on Amazon for a book about it" impulse towards the library - especially since Brooklyn's library has a very robust intra-system loan, and all I need to do is put a hold on something and declare my local branch as the pickup spot and whoosh, within a few days it's there and waiting. January's "Japanese food" impulse is giving way to "packed lunches cookbooks in general" and "tinned fish cookbooks", and that's already also starting to give way to "simple DIY home decor" and "upcycling craft projects for the hopelessly clumsy".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:01 AM on February 12 [11 favorites]

Oh, and I forgot - today is Lundi Gras, and this past weekend I also made some arrangements for Mardi Gras-themed food for the next couple days (a sorta muffaletta and Zapp's chips for lunch today at work, red beans and rice tonight, with the leftovers coming to work tomorrow and a splurge on dinner tomorrow at a local place I discovered). It inspired me to dig out my travel diary from my last New Orleans trip and give it a reread.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:06 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]

In my resolution to read all the great classics, I've started One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I wouldn't say it's exactly a fun read, but my friend leant me their copy, and I'm enjoying reading the little notes they made in the margins.
posted by lianove3 at 4:09 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]

> "Also, I'm always on the lookout for more books about weird America"

Have you tried any of Tim Powers' work from the 90's? Last Call, or Expiration Date, for example? Definitely fantasy, but I think you might find they scratch that particular itch.
posted by kyrademon at 4:38 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]

I'm partway through a wilderness medicine textbook from NOLS (formerly National Outdoor Leadership School).

Something from the section on burns keeps ringing in my head because it's interesting in its literal truth but also figuratively resonant.

Burns that injure only the epidermis, or that go deeper into the dermis, are generally painful. But deeper ("full-thickness") burns penetrate deeper, injuring the subcutaneous tissue as well. And, although the surrounding area might hurt if it gets a more superficial burn, the deep burn itself isn't immediately painful, because the burn has destroyed the blood vessels and the nerve endings that would convey the news of the damage.

And so that means that there is damage we can take that is so deep that it cuts us off from immediately grasping how much we've been hurt, because part of what it does is remove our capacity to know that. And the recovery will be painful, and more than that, it'll be disorientingly painful, as the fresh shock of the pain will be a sign of the nerves growing back.

I'm middle-aged now so I have decades of my life to look back on. And sometimes I'm telling a story to a new friend, some story I've told dozens of times, and for the first time it occurs to me, "hey, that could have gone differently if that parent/teacher/etc. had taken better care of me," and I feel the fresh pain of new grief over a bit of scar tissue I incurred eons ago. The nerves keep growing, and that's a good thing, even if the cost of growth knocks me sideways once in a while.
posted by brainwane at 4:40 AM on February 12 [30 favorites]

I am re-reading The Locked Tomb books and loving them more.

I also am noticing that machines around me are fucking up today. My anti-technology field is in full force. I should probably not drive anywhere.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:50 AM on February 12 [8 favorites]

I just finished reading How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair. An excellent memoir. She is a poet at heart, and that came through a lot in her prose, which for me was not a bonus, but that's a personal preference. Highly recommended, though a hard read at times.

Then I started The People who Report More Stress by Alejandro Varela. Enjoying it so far! Story collections are hit or miss for me, I feel like there's always at least one story that I find to be terrible, but fingers crossed.

Non-reading related, we have started trying to build (though we may eventually just buy) a wheelchair (instagram link, sry) for our mildly disabled doggy with disc disease. My husband is much more of an engineer than I am, so working on the process really hurt my brain. Obviously this is not the final iteration, but I'm pretty proud of us so far.
posted by obfuscation at 5:15 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]

I loved Silver Nitrate. It's deeply into horror nerd territory, and it hasn't caught fire like the much-easier-to-market Mexican Gothic did, but it's maybe my favorite of hers to date. There is a forthcoming limited edition, but it's too rich for my blood, though it looks lovely enough that I squinted at my budget for a while. Like a number of presses, Subterranean seems to have shifted to more titles being US$100+ apiece, and I wish them and their beautiful books well, but I can't justify that on the regular.

Currently reading a story every day or so from Strange Tales from the Liaozhai Studio. I may finish in 2024, but it may be in 2025. I also recently read the picture book The Beggar's Magic: A Chinese Tale, which I did not pick up expecting to be an adaptation from Liaozhai, and yet it was. I'm also reading at a more normal clip Raven Black by Ann Cleeves and The Lake of the Dead by André Bjerke.
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:25 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

I read a random MF post (as in, hit the "random" button). It was either a post by, or had a comment from the very much missed oneswellfoop. So then I looked up what his last activity was. Turns out one of his last comment s was this very prescient comment from 2020 - the entire year is an error message. Unfortunately, that was pretty apt.
posted by pianissimo at 5:28 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]

I am reading The Notebook: A History of Thinking on Paper, by Roland Allen, (mostly about notebooks in Europe and North America). I did not expect it to start with a discussion of double entry accounting in Italy, or that Pepys wouldn't arrive until near the end of the book.
posted by Peach at 5:33 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

My favorite Silvia Moreno Garcia by far remains Gods of Jade and Shadow.
posted by obfuscation at 5:37 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

Last night I started reading one of my Christmas gifts, "All the Sonnets of Shakespeare" by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells. It's tricky for bedtime reading, because the text can lull you, but then you realize you bounced off it and you have to begin again and again until you fall asleep. ...Maybe just me?

Anyway, the sonnets are also quite smutty, which I was superficially aware of (e.g., multiple meanings of "spend") until I paid attention to these footnotes. Yowza.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:42 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]

At the moment, I am reading:

Point of No Return, John P. Marquand
After Kilvert, A.L. Le Quesne
The Loft Generation, Edith Schloss

These books don't really have anything in common.
posted by JanetLand at 5:42 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

I’m reading the audiobook version of A Master of Djinn by P. Djèli Clark. I had started the print version but my attention span and eye strain both conspired against me so I flipped over to the audio. The narrator is fantastic, and I think I might wind up enjoying the audio more than I would have the print.
posted by eekernohan at 5:47 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

I've been continuing my joyful exploration of the world of gay romance novels, as I mentioned in a previous thread. It's simply astonishing to me how extensive this genre is, how creative it allows its writers to be, and how much fun people are having with it. It's like this whole parallel literary universe where every genre is represented, every degree of writing prowess, but it's invisible to the world at large because it usually involves two guys falling in love.

In a way that's a shame. There are a bunch of books in this genre which I think deserve a lot more acclaim and success than they currently get. And it's nice to see the occasional genre favorite break out into the mainstream a bit, like T. J. Klune on the NYT bestseller list or Red, White and Royal Blue being made into an Amazon movie.

But there's a big part of me that's delighted that, as old as I am, I've found a whole new secret library of books that seem like they were written specifically for me. There are wizards and werewolves and gangsters and jocks and aliens and third-generation small-town hardware store owners all out there having adventures and falling in love, and it's absolutely marvelous.

I keep having fantasies about packaging up a few of these books and sending them back in time to my fourteen year old self. Who knows how different everything would have been if I could have imagined a life that included romance? I can only hope that the people who need these books are finding them these days, because the healing that comes from reading about gay people as if they're actual human beings who can really fall in love is immense.
posted by MrVisible at 5:54 AM on February 12 [8 favorites]

Silver Nitrate, by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia.

The Half Price Books near my home has four of her novels, signed first editions. Silver Nitrate was one of the four and the plot looks really intriguing. It took all the self control I had in me to leave them on the shelf and seeing it mentioned today feels like the universe telling me what I need to read next.

I'm re-reading Tales of the City in anticipation of the next installment coming out in March.

Also in the borrow list at this time is Gallant, The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years, The Roaring Days of Zora Lilly and The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels. Having access to two large library systems has been fantastic for my wallet and terrible for my time management.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:57 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

Silver Nitrate, by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia.

I have not read that yet, but loved her book Velvet Is the Night. Based on how good that was, I have high hopes for her other novels when I read them.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:02 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

can i just say how much i hate the endless rivers of nauseatingly tropey garbage that permeates the mystery genre? thoughtlessly produced by the word grinding machine? the laziest characterizations? the most stereotypical beats? the appallingly unaddressed racism? the endless fawning of policing? i would like to throw away 90% of the books in our building's free library.

but that would probably be an own goal as the old conservative white ladies who ingest them with their afternoon tea like cream cheese and cress sandwiches with the fucking crusts cut off would find themselves at loose ends and God Only Knows what mischief they'd be up to if that were the case.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:08 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]

I'm currently finishing up Clare Beams' The Illness Lesson for rec reading. Then it's back to reading monographs for the book chapter I'm writing (as I always have to remind students, you don't know what you don't know until you start the writing process...).
posted by thomas j wise at 6:23 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

After finishing Dostoevsky's Demons, which took almost two months, I am working my way through a pile of (very) short books which I have accumulated over the past decade or so. Currently reading Life Went On Anyway, a collection of short stories by Ukrainian writer Oleg Sentsov (who is apparently currently fighting on the front lines in Ukraine).
posted by JohnFromGR at 6:33 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

I'm catching up on my magazine reading -- I have a handful of subscriptions to actual ink-on-paper magazines, which have been piling up because I've had a lot of stuff going on and no time to sit. Filmmaker magazine, Journal of Light Construction, Old Home Journal, American Cinematographer are the top of the pile. I also get a physical copy of the weekly newspaper from a small town where I own a vacation home, which is my Wednesday reading habit.

Film student update: another quiet week; the university apparently was hit by a ransomware attack (as far as the rumor mill has informed me of a reason, the university hasn't released one), so parts of the campus network has been down for over a week. There's some group projects where my compatriots say they can't get their work done because of their lack of network access, but based on the campus network status updates emails I'm getting they should be able to get their work done, they're just not actually doing it. But, I'm not their boss, I'm just the one who said "I'll compile everything into the project that needs to be turned in, you just get me your parts". The more I'm doing these projects it feels like my calling in this industry is either director or producer, because I'm apparently the one who volunteers and succeeds at herding cats.

This week, in theory, the class is broken up into two parts and each half only comes in one day, so there should only be one day of class this is one of those days, and the professor hasn't released the list of who has to come today, and my professor is a cat I'm not allowed to herd, so I have to be patient.

As a performer: A while back I went to an open call auditions in the film department, which got your name in a binder of possible actors, and last week an email went out to those people asking for anyone who can attend to come to the Directing 300 class on Tuesday, so the prospective directors have somebody to direct. With only having class one day this week that frees me up to take this time off from work without feeling like I'm shirking my income-producing duties, so it all works out OK. Tonight is the table-read for the student film I'm in, looking forward to it too. And, lastly, the guy who I did the Billy Sunday performance for -- where I didn't like my performance and my neurosis thought he'd never want me to act for him again -- said he's got another project coming up this summer and he thinks he's got a role for me as a cop, so my anxiety got proven wrong yet again.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:47 AM on February 12 [10 favorites]

Unnatural Magic by C.M. Waggoner -- I'm not ordinarily a fantasy reader but a dear friend loves this book so I'm reading it so I can talk about it with her and OMG it is SO GOOD. I am devouring it.
posted by biblioPHL at 6:54 AM on February 12

Let’s get it out of the way first, the bad thing that I’ve been ruminating on.

I left my last job because I was being sexually harassed. I told HR but I was getting so anxious about going to work that it was time to quit. Now I’m unemployed and angry. Kinda sucks getting to pick between being harassed and being unemployed. I’m angry with the guy responsible, I’m angry with my teammates, I’m angry at myself. This whole deal makes me even less likely to be hired, who wants to hire someone with such obvious unresolved trauma? This sounds like someone who desperately needs therapy, but I’m not taking great care of myself right now and unable to contemplate the steps necessary to find therapy that works with the insurance of a broke, unemployed person. It could be worse. I’m not currently either homeless or starving. And I like actually having time to do things that are not work, except mostly that seems to mean I’m spending a lot of time angry. I only ever have either money or time, never both.

And then the good thing:

I’ve been busking this week. It’s not been unseasonably warm and there is a downtown just a couple blocks away from me. Even in February apparently (!) I can go right outside my house and average about fifty an hour from tips. That feels pretty good. I've been reading a lot of new material for that because it's fun to go outside and play different things. It's tough to know when it's good enough that you can play it outside the house though.
posted by wurl1tzer_c0 at 6:57 AM on February 12 [16 favorites]

These days, for some reason, I find myself reading books about Joan of Arc, and books about knives. Not sure how I got here.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:03 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

I'm reading this ginormous book "The Price of Peace" about John Maynard Keynes. It explains and deconstructs my college intro to macro-economics class so very well.
posted by of strange foe at 7:05 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

On a recommendation from an acquaintance, To the Chapel Perilous by Naomi Mitchison, which is an odd duck - it's a Kathryn Hepburn / Spencer Tracy journalist romcom except that they're journalists for rival papers who are reporting on the Knights of the Round Table and their quest for the Holy Grail. The writing style is honestly quite hard for me to get into but it's so unlike anything I've read before that I feel compelled to finish it (and also, it's due back to Inter-Library Loan soon).

I am taking a very brief and very needed staycation next week (pondered getting away from the Wisconsin winter for a weekend, but I can't afford it, plus the Wisconsin winter has actually been alarmingly, unreasonably nice) and hope to catch up on some reading then. On deck are K-Ming Chang's Organ Meats and Sunny Moraine's Your Shadow Half Remains and maybe the new Kelly Link novel.
posted by Jeanne at 7:06 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]

I just finished Finding Everett Ruess by David Roberts - it's a novel about a man who goes missing in the Southwest back in the 1930s. It's in much the same vein as Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild about the adventures of Chris McCandless. It's a fascinating read about a young man who leaves home to explore the wilderness and disappears without a trace. To this date, his body has never been found - but he left a treasure trove of poetry, essays and letters to family and friends.
posted by Roger Pittman at 7:14 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

oh man, so many of you with such interesting reading going on

I recently stalled on reading for an Organizational Behaviour course, still haven't cracked the second text. I keep a copy of Daniel Clowes' "The Complete Eightball" for bedtime reading, then I'll take it camping and enjoy it again properly. Or not.

Watched Kilmarnock beat Cove Rangers on Saturday morning, I believe I'm a Killie as of this weekend.
posted by elkevelvet at 7:20 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

Most of what I read is manga. Recently read the final volume of Golden Kamuy, a 31-volume adventure story that takes place in early 20th century Hokkaido about a quest for a cache of Ainu gold found by hunting down clues contained on the bodies of multiple tattooed prisoners. It is action-packed, heavily researched, quite funny, frequently queer, incredibly foodie, and definitely recommended. There's an anime adaptation as well, if you're more amenable to that.

In the world of books with fewer pictures, I've been slowly plonking away at Britsoft, a history of the British video game industry told by many of the people who participated, including the likes of Peter Molyneux and Jeff Minter. I didn't know much about this history before starting this book, so it's been pretty interesting so far.
posted by May Kasahara at 7:29 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

I went out to the Bay for work last week, and actually did a bunch of Libby browsing in advance to prepare for the long flights. Finally read Translation State by Ann Leckie (I don't buy hardcovers so am waiting for this spring's paperback release) and started Nothing But the Rain by Naomi Salman, who is an author I mainly know as a fanfic writer. It was too creepy/scary for me to finish in one go, so then I dove back into fic for the rest of the week.

My favorite thing about work travel is often the opportunity to visit the good used bookstores, and this trip was no exception. I bought poetry this time which is NOT my usual thing, trying some Louise Glück and Richard Siken. We'll see how it goes, I am not yet a very attentive or practiced reader of poems.

Back home, organizing my desk and contemplating the spring pottery efforts.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 7:54 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]

Currently revisiting A Dictionary of Literary Terms. Reminded that I bought my used copy from the University Co-op over 50 years ago. I paid a whole $1.13 for it back then...
posted by jim in austin at 8:04 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

I really shouldn't read anymore of this thread, because I see books that I want. I have been buying so many books lately that I inadvertently bought one twice. Memail me if you'd like a copy of this.
posted by JanetLand at 8:12 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]

I came down with covid on Thursday; my 4-year streak of not getting it was finally broken. And there was no question; within a couple of minutes the line popped up on the test! Argh. I'm feeling bad because I spent Thursday driving around with a staff member and some other folks, looking for archaeological sites, and I hope I didn't make anyone else sick.

Anyway I spent the weekend cooking (chicken-leek soup, 24-hour no-knead bread, and pb cookies), and rereading Martha Wells' Books of the Raksura. They're not as popular as the Murderbot books, but they are so frelling creative, with tons of amazing visuals and exciting action sequences. And the hero, Moon, is just as cranky and resentful as Murderbot, except he really wants a family, it's just that he has abandonment issues.

The Paxlovid is working really well, and I'm definitely getting over it, but I don't think I've had an actual sick day since February of 2020, so I'm going to take advantage of this.
posted by suelac at 8:13 AM on February 12 [9 favorites]

"...I think I might wind up enjoying the audio more than I would have the print"

I'm finding this true for some authors. I just finished Neal Stephenson's REAMDE in audiobook. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it so much in print. I ended up really liking Cryptonomicon in print (quite a while ago), but at times it felt like a slog. I should give the audiobook a listen sometime. I'm also glad I did Seveneves in audio.

I wonder if this is true for others as well. I think Stephenson is a good example because he does such deep dives; which can be quite interesting, but they often stray so far from the plot it can feel tough to plow through on paper. In audio form it seems to flow much nicer.
posted by patternocker at 8:21 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

Our kid celebrated his 14th birthday last year by making himself a two foot tall (64 cm) conical blue hat that said "BRITHDAY BOY" and had an illustration of two seven fingered hands below which was written "I AM THIS MANY." He wore it to school and his party. Because why not.

For his 15th this year, he decided he needed to outdo last year. So he made himself a four foot tall (1.22m) telescoping hat with tiers like a wedding cake. The highest level is topped with a traditional conical party hat and a loofah. Each level is festooned with letter beads spelling out various in-jokes and non-sequiturs. He's working on making the lowest level comfortable to wear. He's got nine days left, so he should finish in plenty of time.

In summary: our kid is weird and great.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:24 AM on February 12 [29 favorites]

I'm reading The Housekeepers, which is basically Ocean's Eleven if the team conducting the heist were all housekeepers and other female servants in 1905 London. Very fun.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:27 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]

I really shouldn't read anymore of this thread, because I see books that I want.

Reminds me of some expensive old threads that gave me several useful pointers (mostly nonfiction): the 2007 Ask "What single book is the best introduction to your field (or specialization within your field) for laypeople?" and a 2005 Crooked Timber thread:
Which academic books are fit for human consumption? Or, to put it less polemically, which books written for academic purposes deserve, should find (or in some cases have found) a more general readership among intelligent people who are either (a) non-academics, or (b) aren’t academic specialists in the discipline that the book is written for.
posted by brainwane at 9:04 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]

Remember the soft pop hit "Popsicle Toes"? I happened to hear it this weekend, and perhaps for the first time it struck me...

Does anyone else think it's kind of odd that 40-odd years ago we enjoyed the bouncy refrain of some random dude singing about his sex life and toe fetish on national radio?

The 70s was a different time, man.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:21 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]

Also currently rereading the Murderbot series; I'd forgot there was a new book so this was just because I needed a book that I knew for unwinding at bedtime.
posted by Mitheral at 9:22 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

I'm reading The Mimicking of Known Successes. I'm finding it slow going but I think it's me rather than the book, as I'm still processing my in-process divorce. I do like the book so far. Interesting world.

I'm always on the lookout for more books about weird America

Literaryhero, you might try The Second Shooter by Nick Mamatas. It's profoundly weird.
posted by joannemerriam at 9:32 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

I'm trying, 24 years later, to resuscitate my college French by reading books and listening to music and podcasts.

Finding books has been a problem, but my uncle happened to be in Paris over the holidays, randomly, and I asked him to buy me a French dictionary (not French-English) and a "book for young adults" that I might muddle through.

He sent me a collection of stories called "Petit Nicolas" and they're perfect. They're very funny, about a troublemaking young kid and his classmates.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I'm through it though.
posted by heyitsgogi at 9:40 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]

On my nightstand- The Name of the Rose (for the 3rd? time) and MeFi-recommended The Undertow.
On my phone- just finished Hank Green's An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and got on the wait list for the sequel.
On my MP3 player- cstross's Snowball's Chance and Crichton's Dragon Teeth.

Happy to learn about Lundi Gras. That explains my weight this morning...
posted by MtDewd at 10:06 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

Been listening to a lot of audio books because that's where my head is and it's convenient when washing dishes or working in the yard. Things I've enjoyed recently.
Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone - Australian Murder Mystery in the vein of Agatha Christie with a modern sensibility.
Murder Crossed Her Mind - What if Nero Wolfe and Archie were clever, wisecracking women?
To the Bloody End - The third and last part of Rachel Aaron's "DFZ Changeling Series" - they're slight, but her writing is always enjoyable and spritly even if you want to strangle the characters.
The Interdepency Series - It's mefi's own Scalzi and Wil Wheaton - who I now always hear when reading Scalzi.

I mentioned the other week listening to Nettle & Bone as well and that was really enjoyable to sit with.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:08 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

@Greg_Ace: I love me some Michael Franks. I call him a jazz love poet. I also love the way he can be dirty without being in your face about it. Another lyric of his "Let's see if we can rattle the tea set."
posted by luckynerd at 10:09 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

posted by bombastic lowercase pronouncements at 10:11 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

Reading Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins, set in a depressing, near-future dried-out Southwestern North America. Spoiler alert: the title's how a Hoosier characterizes Californians, what they migrated here for. Now, at my luncheon, just before I left the East for the first time (because I've actually moved back, and then moved here again) someone decorated my going-away cake with the reasons I'd been giving, then: Love, Power & Money. Never really got the middle one, but that doesn't matter anymore; finally found the first and I have enough of the lettuce, I'm not hurting. Also planted my own orange tree so I've got the Citrus, as well.

Speaking of manga, also reading Harvey Pekar's The Beats: A Graphic History. Mostly Harvey, but some others, also; edited by Paul Buhle.
posted by Rash at 10:12 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

I was at friend's house for the Superbowl Holiday WeekendTM and didn't bring anything to read but then there was downtime so I raided my friend's bookshelf. She had a book that had been given to her (but not read) with the very enticing title of Plague Maker by Tim Downs.

It's hot trash full of dubious science and improbable plot points but the writing is not completely terrible and a "let's bomb an American city with a bunch of plague fleas" plot is just catnip for me.

And then my husband tested positive for the 'vid this morning. ugh. Life, you do not need to imitate art, it's ok, really.
posted by supermedusa at 10:14 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]

heyitsgogi: you might want to look into comics (I learned French mostly with Asterix and Tintin, but those are pretty old at this point).

It's possible to subscribe to J'Aime Lire from the US, but pricey. If you're looking for young adult books, I'd try some from Quebec publisher Courte Echelle, which has some ebooks available - I remember liking Louise Leblanc's books.

Young adult books are "Livres pour ados" in French, and you can find some more here - lots of translations from English, if that's something you're looking for (or want to avoid)
posted by Jeanne at 10:17 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

First I reread my own journal, then I reread the emotional labor thread, and now I'm just wandering around in stunned amazement at my apparent learning disability. I thought it was so life changing at the time, but it didn't change anything at all.
posted by HotToddy at 10:20 AM on February 12 [7 favorites]

@Jeanne: Oh boy! Thank you so much!
posted by heyitsgogi at 10:53 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

Not on the subject of reading - but last week's rainstorms finally spelled doom for the 70ish year old dead avocado tree in my backyard. The roots were dry rotted and it came over (slowly as it turned out - it didn't even break the glass in the lantern we had hanging in it). I'm glad that we had the foresight to trim it down last year, so when it fell it didn't hit anything breakable. (except the glorious sage bush that I'm trying to save)

But it also gave me a chance to break out my chainsaws and whittle that fallen beast into more manageable chunks. Got a couple of big logs to sort out uses for and the stump is out of the ground and delightfully weird. Think I might just even it out and turn it into a natural stool. (It was also a great chance for my wife to boggle at the fact that I have two chainsaws. She didn't even know I had one!)
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:54 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]

I just finished The Method of No-Method. It consists of two parts, the first being a collection of lectures on the the Chan practice of Silent Illumination by noted modern Taiwanese Chan Master, Sheng Yen, and the second being a translation of various writings of Hongzhi, 11th century Chinese Chan Master and famed teacher of Silent Illumination. This latter section is accompanied by Sheng Yen's commentary on the verses.

Silent Illumination is an early Chan Buddhist practice consisting of "just sitting". Sheng Yen teaches that this practice is the union of the two varieties of classical Buddhist meditation, Shamatha and Vipassana, often translated as tranquility and insight.

Very accessible to modern readers, The Method of No-Method provides clear instruction and a well of inspiration in clear language suitable for both those new to the practice and those further along the path. Recommended for those interested in Chan practices.

I'm also a quarter of the way through Lagoon, a first contact story by Nnedi Okorafor. This is the second I've read of hers and there are some things I really like about it: It takes place in Africa and the characters are wholly African. It's refreshing to read completely non-western based sci-fi. The dialog is pretty good, particularly the untranslated pidgin parts. There are some things I don't like as much: The characters tend to act as if completely in service to the plot as opposed to their motivations which takes me out of the story. Also, some of the characters are written so there is absolutely no ambiguity about their allegiances. This character is definitely the protagonist and has very few flaws, while that character is clearly the bad guy with no redeemable qualities. So far, I like more than I dislike and will likely finish.
posted by lyam at 10:58 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

I read this thread. I like reading free threads. Reading this may have lead to more reading. I also like that.

In unrelated news I may have discovered a way to trick my brain into not yelling at me to stop useless activities like jogging.
posted by flamewise at 11:02 AM on February 12 [7 favorites]

Gold Fame Citrus was a brutal read!

DoT your kid sounds AWESOME!
posted by supermedusa at 11:09 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

I'm reading Veronica Lake's autobiography. Just got to the part where a Hollywood exec appears to remote lock his office door, then pulls out his you-know-what. Lake throws a dictionary at it, which finds its mark, then runs out the door (which was unlocked—it was some kind of sound effect), as the guy's secretary runs in past her to see her boss screaming in pain and begins to laugh her head off.
posted by jabah at 11:27 AM on February 12 [7 favorites]

Seven Demons by Aiden Truhen(who is Nick Harkaway{who is Nicholas Cornwell}). [Substack here]

If Hunter Thompson co-wrote thrillers with Elmore Leonard, it might be something like this book; certainly a ripping yarn!
posted by owalt1 at 11:40 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

Little Nick aka Le Petit Nicholas are all by the guy who wrote the best Asterix volumes (not the equally/comparably brilliant English translations) They are a total joy. If you can get through them you can get through most commercial fiction - I recently read a good novel by Patrick Modiano Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier. And sitting guiltily on my table is Les Années by Annie Ernaux.

Last week I picked up and put down Pattern Recognition aborting prematurely a planned re-read. All the things I did not like about it the first time I picked it up (it's very schematic (to my mind)) bugged me especially.

There's a medium-big stack of books I recently got for my birthday: the new Zadie Smith book and then a very, very cool book culled from sailors' logs and notebooks about their experiences being on (and in) the water (The Sea Journal Huw Lewis-Jones.)
Top of that pile is one recommended by the guys at this really great detective book store in Kreuzberg (one neighbourhood over from me) "Hammet" the book is American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson, he described it as "I'm jealous of anyone who gets to read it for the first time."

The last thing I have to finish reading is a German novel called The Peacock which is an odd and droll novel about a corporate retreat. I keep reading it just to find out what it's "about" and keep getting surprised to find out that, yes, indeed, it is about just this. And 'this' is more than enough.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:47 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

I've reached the end of the first part (there are two) in Journey to the South, the latest book by the Czech author Michal Ajvaz to make it into English. As tends to be his forté, there have so far been stories within stories within stories, nested up to five or six levels deep. Getting ever deeper into that nestedness felt a little wearisome at times, as if I were making an ascent (and some of the writing felt flat), but coming out the other side of it was exhilarating, as one surprising or delightful resolution followed another. Now for the second part!
posted by misteraitch at 11:54 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

Reading is a luxury these days, I listen to most things. Have a 60's Girl Group book to finish.

Spent most of the weekend doing nothing. I know I'm in the middle of a depressive episode. Meds are working to keep it from getting worse, and I can't afford therapy right now. I just know it'll pass eventually, and I have no desire to leave this world prematurely.
posted by luckynerd at 1:11 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]

All eyes on Rafah this week. SHAME!!
posted by tovarisch at 1:16 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]

to read

That Winter the Wolf Came, Juliana Spahr.
Runes and Chords, Alice Notley.
The Variations, Patrick Langley.
The End of the Poem: Studies in Poetics, Giorgio Agamben
The String of Pearls, Thomas Preskett Priest. (Recently saw Sweeney Todd on Broadway, is why.)

currently reading

The Wishing Pool and Other Stories, Tananarive Due.

read this month
The Reformatory, also Due. (Her most recent, and her best, I think.)
The Good House, still Due. (Not her best.)
The Fraud, Zadie Smith. (eh, I was ok with it. Too much Brechtian distance for me. But I like the novel-as-replacement-for-theogony school of fiction: there's an old-school Left ethos to it that I enjoy.)
Severance, Ling Ma.
Disease of Kings, Anders Carlson-Wee. (I bought a copy from him at a reading to see if I would like the poems better on the page. I didn't. I don't hate them.)
Any Man, Amber Tamblyn. (Wanted to like it more than I did: simultaneously too simple and too scattered. Worth it for the extended soliloquy at the end, which is terribly creepy.)
The Rats, James Herbert.

read last month
Animal, Dorothea Lasky. The Shining, also Lasky.
Rouge, Mona Awad. (I liked Bunny better.)
Red Rising, Pierce Brown. (Just read The Hunger Games instead.)
Helpmeet, Naben Ruthnum.
The Night Parade, Jami Nakamura Lin. ("speculative memoir" is the rare genre-name that I actually like. In general, huge fan of this kind of genrefluid writing: Anne Boyer, Maggie Nelson, Sarah Manguso, parts of Anne Carson, Esme Weijun Wang, Carmen Maria Machado, Maxine Hong Kingston. This one's back-of-the-pack--but it's a murderer's row of a pack; back of the pack there is practically anybody else's top dog.)
De Niro's Game, Rawi Hage.
Luster, Raven Leilani. (Not sure why everybody had a copy of this on the subway a few months ago. It was just ok.)
Lone Women, Victor LaValle. (This is what a fully mature Victor LaValle novel looks like, and it's good.)
Winter in Sokcho, Eliza Shua Dusapin.
Somebody with a Little Hammer, Mary Gaitskill.
Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear Mosab Abu Toha.
A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine.
A Desolation Called Peace, ditto.
Children of Time, Adrian Tchaikovsky.
Children of Ruin, ditto.
Children of Memory, likewise.
Walking to Aldebaran, still Tchaikovsky. (One of the more entertaining re-tellings of Beowulf I've read in a while. Gary Rendel, astronaut, gets lost in a Rama-esque alien spacestation/asteroid/hyperobject, meets Mother Machine, which modifies his body so that he can survive...)
Spiderlight, Tchaikovsky. (He really likes spiders.)

posted by what does it eat, light? at 1:23 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

I am rereading the books I asked about in an AskMe 18 years ago which was only accidentally solved the other day. I am so happy! And also amazed that my brain remembered so many plot points correctly (while completely forgetting others, seemingly at random). And it turns out that there's a couple of books by Cynthia Harnett that I've never read so I'm going to read those as soon as I'm finished swimming in nostalgia! Bliss!!
posted by ninazer0 at 2:07 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]

I have just discovered today that The Uxbridge English Dictionary is a real thing that one can buy over the interwebs. Oh my. That's the best news I've had for a while. I will be spending my hard earned pennies toot de sweet!

(For those who have no idea what I'm on about, this is a much loved part of a long running British radio comedy show)
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 2:09 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

I guess the last series of books I read was The Great God's War by Stephen R Donaldson. It's one of those trilogies where each book is twice as long as the previous. I guess the final volume was a gigantic problem to edit down to something manageable and then again a gigantic fight with the publisher to even get it onto paper because his reputation is waning across time and the previous two volumes didn't sell that well.

Donaldson is oddly one of the only authors that I've read everything they've written that isn't a journal article or something. I love his inventiveness and his use of language and how vivid the worlds he describes are to me. I'm not a fan of all the things that happen in his plots, but I really do love his stories overall.
posted by hippybear at 2:17 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]

what does it eat, light? holy shit. You read a lot. Envy!!
posted by obfuscation at 2:58 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

Ian Hanomansing has been a media presence throughout my Canadian life. He is a treasure, I think he's one of the most good-looking people I've ever seen on a screen and I don't know him but he has always come across as just a quietly decent bloke. Here's Ian on the recent Cross Country Checkup (Dating Stories)
posted by elkevelvet at 3:13 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

Currently at the 50% mark in Nona The Ninth. I don't understand it, but I love it. Trying to decide whether to start a re-read of the first three books in the series within the next month or so or after I read Alecto The Ninth, wheneverthehellitcomesout.
posted by lhauser at 3:56 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]

I love [Donaldson's] inventiveness and his use of language and how vivid the worlds he describes are to me.

Joy is in the ears that hear.
(or the eyes that see, I suppose)
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:03 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]

I'm reading Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. It kept me up late last night.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:26 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]

I'm reading job applications. Sorry, no new cool books to recommend! I like the Emily Wilde series and Rebecca Ross's latest duology, if you want any.

I've now applied for 22 jobs with the very large organization I'm trying to get in at, and 1 job with my current organization as part of the disability reassignment process. It's the job with the bad office reputation. I tried asking my one contact there if it was good/bad to apply at and got no response (sigh) but it's been like 3 weeks and that is the ONLY job I qualify for at all, so here we go, DS has put in the contact information and we'll see how that goes in the future. I guess I can keep applying at Very Large Org in the meantime or if it goes south.

I also heard back from the disability job counseling place I applied for in mid-January, they assigned me a counselor and the appointment is mid-March.

So, good job me, I have done work today.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:49 PM on February 12 [9 favorites]

I finished reading the draft of my friend's new novel (the third in her trilogy) today. It was good, and I enjoyed it, and then I picked it apart for feedback reasons.

Tomorrow I go in for a follow-up for my surgery because I've got weird pain. It's not ER-worthy but she wanted me in tomorrow and not Wednesday morning. Please keep your fingers crossed for me.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 5:56 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]

I recently finished a really lovely memoir, Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H (a pseudonym). She is a queer south Asian woman who grew up in a middle eastern country and she interweaves her story with the stories of the Muslim prophets. What made it really refreshing is she continues to find joy and love in Islam as a butch lesbian, despite social pressures from both her queer and her Muslim circles. Absolutely lovely and unlike anything I've read before.
posted by goo at 6:11 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]

I just finished Douglas Stuart's Young Mungo. The language is as beautiful as his first novel, and the story is a heartbreaker: two young men in love, separated by the horrific sectarian violence of Glasgow's east end. While it's a powerful book, it's got an extremely disturbing sexual assault scenario running throughout. The book ends in hope, however: even Mungo's monstrous thug of a brother turns out to have a tiny spark of good in him.

I'll be reading a lot more, as I hear that Toronto Public Library should be restarting circulation again after the cyberattack in October. I've missed them a lot.
posted by scruss at 6:16 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]

Currently have Stargazer by Anne Hillerman on hold, Libby says I should have it in 8 weeks. I read The Way Of The Bear from her collection last month. (For those out of the loop, she is the daughter of Tony Hillerman and she picked up his characters and continued the series. The books aren’t bad, and I’m typically not a mystery reader, but I read them for the setting. I love being out on the Navajo Nation and have read up a fair bit on Navajo history. If you liked the Hillerman books, Dark Winds on AMC is a great adaptation. The really good part is that the entire writing room is Native American, and they have really taken ownership of the characters in a way an outsider like Hillerman could never.

Another hold is the Silo Omnibus by Hugh Howey. Libby says three weeks. I absolutely loved the show and it’s probably going to be a while for season 2, so I wanna get reading the source material. I’m curious to see how Walker in the books, because the character in the books is male. On the TV series, Walker is female. Howey said they made that change to create a closer dynamic between Walker and Juliette, and it worked so beautifully, making Walker a maternal figure. As a viewer I loved it, so I’m curious to see how it is in the books.

I just finished Shattered Sword, by Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully. It’s a history of the battle of Midway in WW2. The difference between this one and the previous histories is that it’s told from the Japanese side. It’s painstakingly researched, with an appendix that’s around a fifth of the entire book. The authors dispel some myths about the battle that have become accepted fact (for example, Tone’s number four recon aircraft launching late was not the cause of the Japanese fleet failing to detect the Americans.) One really interesting thing is that a great deal of the contemporary history of Midway is based on the writings of Mitsuo Fuchida, a Japanese pilot aboard the Akagi - and the historians have started to find a lot of fault in his accounts. It dives deep into the political machinations that created the conditions for the catastrophic defeat. Fascinating read.

Also recently finished - Hell Is A World Without You by Jason Kirk. He’s an ex-vagelical who is very thoughtful about his deconstruction, and the book - fictional, but 100% based in reality - is a direct result. It’s his first book and oh man it is good. If you grew up evangelical, um, you’re in this book. If you knew evangelical kids, a lot of things are going to suddenly make sense. If you didn’t grow up around church at all, it’s a great insight into the strange world of teens and church. Having spent some years in an evangelical church as a teen, this book hits really close to home and he’s really nailed it. Considering the reaction the book has gotten, he hit a very specific target and a lot of people feel seen and validated. It’s funny, emphathetic, and it doesn’t dunk on anyone. I hope he writes more books. I was already familiar with his writing acumen because of his affilations in the college football world; he’s part of the Shutdown Fullcast crew along with Spencer Hall, Holly Andersen, and Ryan Nanni. They are all absolutely gifted writers (look up the short story “Cake Weather” by Holly Andersen for a quick but great read.)
posted by azpenguin at 8:26 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]

Naomi Klein's Doppelganger, about her experiences being repeatedly mistaken online for Naomi Wolf, who has gone completely bugnuts over the last decade or so, with thoughts on brands, identity, dissociation, and technology along the way. It's quite good so far. I'd recommend it, unless it too goes completely tits-up in the latter half like poor Wolf.
posted by Scattercat at 8:44 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]

I've watched maybe a dozen Klein interviews/chats/podcats about her book in the past while, and she's so entirely cogent she makes me feel asleep.

if the Naomi be Klein
you’re doing just fine
If the Naomi be Wolf
Oh, buddy. Ooooof.

[Twitter link]
posted by hippybear at 8:52 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]

It's less than a month from Ramadan, and this neurodivergent Muslimah hopes to minimize cooking and cleanup spoons during the 30 days of daytime fasting, God willing.

So it's freezer stockup time!
  • I cleaned out the freezer entirely as of last Saturday for full game-readiness. This took a couple of weeks in and of itself because I didn't want to have to throw out good food.
  • The first meal to be prepped today and tomorrow is an oven-baked chana pulao, to which I will add browned pieces of chicken breast, God willing.
  • I have a lovely can of ghee on hand that I've been eager to open.
  • What I've learned so far: basmati rice never rinses completely clean, and you really shouldn't squeeze it too hard as you're rinsing it. Also, you should soak it overnight before cooking, to yeet as much arsenic as you can, unless you are sure that the water it grew in wasn't contaminated.
What I'm reading: the Qu'ran, a book on the life of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), and other books of sacred knowledge.
posted by rabia.elizabeth at 3:55 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]

Toronto Public library, after suffering a fairly catastrophic malware attack a few months ago, is finally starting to fulfill holds.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:55 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]

Some years ago, several Mefites discussed The Malazan Book of the Fallen. It took me ages to get started, but I read the hell out of it and love it, so thank you. Also big thanks for recommending the Culture books! I'm also a Donaldson reader, though the final Covenant novel's ending frustrated me.

Currently, I'm reading the Empyre graphic novel. That Reed fellow sure looks like Randall Park. So far the plot is lacking in Wiccan but I'll keep reading.
posted by dragonplayer at 4:38 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]

I'm rereading Three Parts Dead, in hopes of moving on to the rest of the Craft Sequence. I'm also rereading the Chronicles of Prydain thanks to the recent thread here about the graphic novel adaptation. This seems like the thread to give a shout out to my awesome county library system, which always has great new books for me to read when I'm not rereading books I've read years ago. I also wrote a large part of my PhD dissertation there, and I'm thankful for the quiet space they provided me during that time.
posted by mollweide at 4:43 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]

wurl1tzer_c0 I’m angry with the guy responsible, I’m angry with my teammates, I’m angry at myself.

I'm intimately familiar with blaming myself for things and my responses to things, but I'd compassionately push back and suggest that only two of those three things are actually deserving of anger. Even if you think you should have done something different, or left sooner, or whatever, the responsibility is not on the traumatized person to correct the situation.

As for what I'm reading, it's a ~$7k estimate to repair the electrical system in our house, which will certainly increase when I tell them I forgot to mention we have knob-and-tube wiring in our attic.

On the plus side, I was told we're lucky there wasn't a fire, so I guess there's that.
posted by Gorgik at 7:38 AM on February 13 [7 favorites]

Lone Women, Victor LaValle. (This is what a fully mature Victor LaValle novel looks like, and it's good.)

Lone Women was so, so freaking good.

Today I had a hilariously uncomfortable conversation with my kid about not throwing inappropriate hand signs in photographs that go on a teacher's social media. It was uncomfortable as:

1. It was not kiddo, I confused kiddo with someone else (I'm TIRED, OK‽)
2. Kiddo does not know what to do with this new knowledge that their mom knows inappropriate hand signs.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 12:19 PM on February 13 [7 favorites]

Kiddo does not know what to do with this new knowledge that their mom knows inappropriate hand signs.

Heh heh heh heh.... One of the joys of parenthood is discomfiting one's child with the knowledge that the Parental Unit was once a kid themselves!

Another joy is doing some innocuous thing (sometimes just existing is all it takes) that nevertheless embarrasses them.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:03 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]

Greg_Ace kiddo is at the prime “easy to troll” teen years and it is SO HARD resisting the urge. They are super sharp and funny and they don’t mince words, which makes it doubly hard.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 3:31 PM on February 13 [6 favorites]

As mentioned above, I balanced a post-surgery scare (all is well) and wrangling with insurance (grrr) with reading the draft of a friend's third novel in her trilogy. Having the behind-the-scenes view watching the story and the characters grow from a story to a novel trilogy, expanding and wrapping in more new characters and concepts as it goes, has been a real delight.

Today she showed me fanart someone had made of her main character on Twitter and we squeed together like it was 2007.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 7:27 PM on February 13 [5 favorites]

I recently read Machine Vendetta, the new novel by Alastair Reynolds. So now I've read 20 of his books, all except the Doctor Who one.

I'm currently reading Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. A comment above made me realize that for years I've been conflating Arkady Strugatsky with Adrian Tchaikovsky.

And I keep chipping away at The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin, which I began over a year ago. It's really, really good, just big. It's the history of the global petroleum industry 1990-2010 and is the sequel to Yergin's Pulitzer-winning The Prize. My newest book purchase is Spindletop (1952) by James A. Clark.

Doing a decent job of keeping up with The New Yorker.
posted by neuron at 9:27 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]

Ope! I just posted to last week’s thread and think maybe I should have posted here. In brief, if you like to read romantic-suspense, I’m in need of beta readers for my first novel. I’ve been given advice that I need to cut back on my word count (it’s over 122k) but that’s from folks who haven’t read the story. I know they're probably right but before I butcher it, I want to hear from someone who’s read it. If you like the genre and feel like helping out a first-time fiction writer, me-mail me and I’ll share it with you as a Google doc.

Besides my own stuff I’ve been reading Manacled (Harry Potter fanfic) and a bunch of smutty romances: Unhinged and Squeak by Vera Valentine, Morning Glory Milking Farm by C.M. Nascosta, Heated Rivalry (hockey players!) by Rachel Reid, and so much more. It’s been a lot of fun! (btw, my story is mostly closed door and not nearly as creative)
posted by kbar1 at 10:25 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]

I just got Octavia E. Butler's Lilith's Brood trilogy of novels from the library, this is the first time I'm reading her I think. Other good news, our apartment building got a plastic recycling bin! Don't know when this happened, but I'm so happy about it! I no longer have to take my plastic to either a) the building across the street's bin, which is right under some windows and true story I got yelled at from a window around christmas, or b) the supermarket parking lot bin like a km away.

Oh and I also read Nora Ephron's Heartburn and I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman recently. And a collection of Natsume Sōseki's short stories, of which some stick to my mind and I find myself thinking about them a lot.

ALSO I GOT A DRUM MACHINE AND IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY! Sorry for all caps, but I got this little cheapish Korg Volca Beats drum machine with a little speaker just yesterday and I'm completely addicted to it! It'll be a nice addition to my little recording setup of electric and acoustic guitar, a (digital) upright piano, a huge pedalboard, a couple of 80's Roland transistor amps with very nice clean sounds and reverbs and a little Boss BR-80 digital multitrack recorder which I think I mentioned in an earlier free thread which has a nice pair of condenser microphones in it. The little drum machine can sound absolutely massive through headphones – I'm using Koss Porta Pros – and in a mix. The Boss BR-80 is SUPER loud too. My guitar setup with it's sometimes self-oscillating delays and sometimes-quite-trebly filter peaks (think of a filter as in a synth being used in looped electric guitar) needs a limiter for live performances and I'm setting up a dbx 2215 EQ/Limiter which is a rack effect used for any kind of audio with the guitar+pedalboard going through a di-box and the limiter/eq before going through the guitar amp. The di-box does stuff to the pedalboard signal so the eq/limiter gets the kind of signal it likes (balanced, low-impedance, a bit boosted).
posted by fridgebuzz at 1:58 AM on February 14 [5 favorites]

I am always in many books at once, but the two I'll mention here are

* Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle, by Clare Hunter, which I am really enjoying (started reading it whilst waiting to start a driving lesson a couple of days ago, waiting outside the house, and failed to notice the instructor arriving, so he had to come and get between me and the book). There is a review here.

* The Midlife in Gretna Green cosy fantasy series, which I am re-reading. Something about the combination of fantasy and practical work admin stuff works for me.

ninazer0, really pleased that you've found your Cynthia Harnett memory! I think she's one of the best of the post-war British children's historical fiction writers. I'm sorry I didn't see your question back in 2006. That was around the time I was writing about Harnett for a collection of papers about how writers have used history in fiction - sadly didn't get published.
posted by paduasoy at 3:16 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]

C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner, mostly because she kept being reccomended as the kind of thing I like to read and write.
posted by signal at 7:26 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]

One thing about me is that I have ADHD and am autistic with anxiety/restlessness, and I go through phases where I read all the books and phases (sometimes years) where trying to focus on text for more than three to five minutes is painful. I'm in one of those now, but I am taking notes of lots of these recs and will be fully stocked if/when spring comes and the hammock tells me it's time to read again.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:34 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]

signal, when I read the Foreigner series I remember going to the library late (for me) one night to get the last two books (of the fourth series, I think) because I just couldn't wait to continue. I really like the cats in space ones, too - Chanur series from 1980s. And Cyteen. And several other ones! Big fan.

My recent book reading has mostly been on airplanes. The Lost Apothecary was plenty engrossing and just perfect for about 2.5 hour flight - 18th century witchy tale with a modern day woman hunting down a related mystery.

A previous one was The Miracles of the Namiya General Store - I think suggested in an AskMe a couple years back. Very sweet and strange. Other ones on recent-ish flights are not worth mentioning so much.

At home I read bits of Art and Fear periodically.
And Metafilter & AskMe daily, for good or ill.
posted by Glinn at 8:09 AM on February 14 [3 favorites]

posted by lalochezia at 9:03 AM on February 14 [5 favorites]


"We're all plums down here"
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:24 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]

So, posting something here from another thread because I don’t want to clutter a thread about paying more attention to progressive black voices with a capitalism/LLM derail, and this is a Free Thread where theoretically anything goes, so we may as well fight here instead:

This [ed. saying LLMs are not inherently racist] is like saying that there is nothing inherently racist about capitalism.

It is absolutely not. Capitalism inherently favors consolidation of power and resources by granting unethical individuals the means to shape their socio-economic environment for the sole purpose of easing ever-increasing consolidation of further power. One of the methods employed is to sow division across all possible axes of positionality, including race. There are no starting conditions for capitalism that will ever end with a society that prioritizes the well-being of its citizens - particularly marginalized people. Every internal tension and mechanic of the system’s structure works against that end.

LLMs are glorified linear algebra, structured to resemble human neural networks in order to create a lossy compression of how one or more human languages work in a prompt-response format. LLM training optimizes towards a minimum local loss function and once trained output is generated via inference on the resulting tuned network. Tune with properly scrubbed training data and you will produce a tool for mimicking human speech that is less biased against marginalized people than, say, 95% of all English speakers (or however high, based on the amount of time and energy you spend cleaning the training data). Increased exposure to the resulting output of that system will influence any humans interacting with it in a positive manner, similar to interacting with other less-biased human speakers.

One of these things can, in theory, be made to work for the greater good, and one of them cannot. They are completely different in this regard. We can pressure researchers, companies, and open source groups to make more ethical AI systems - not just LLMs - a reality, and this is already beginning to happen.
posted by Ryvar at 9:35 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]

They’re all trash owned by Nazis.
posted by Artw at 10:29 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]

There are over 40,000 open source AI models anyone can download and use on huggingface, including you. The technology isn’t “owned” by anyone, and leaping to dismiss it wholesale - whether out of employment fear or desire for Internet snark victories - doesn’t help anyone or achieve anything. Acknowledging the ethical problems, acknowledging the impossibility of regulating a fully open source software stack, acknowledging the severe limitations on what it is actually useful for and using all of that to selectively apply social pressure where it will do the most good? That will.

None of us can control what OpenAI/Microsoft, Meta or Google will do. And that’s perfectly okay because the future of LLMs and AI is not in their hands: it’s in ours.
posted by Ryvar at 11:15 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]

Really not seeing this harm-free artisinal AI approach in evidence anywhere I’m looking, it’s all API calls to these huge companies that burn a bunch of power and water chugging away and then return a crappy result.

Most of its power seems to come from scale (ie all the plagiarism means you can pretend it “knows” about things), I’m not sure how you get that kind of scale without a big hugely destructive company.

Most of the applications that are not tech demos seem to revolve around destroying people’s livelihoods either via plagiarism or doing a crappy pretend version of their jobs.

Utter garbage technology. Nazis love it for a reason.
posted by Artw at 11:59 AM on February 14

I'm reading The Last Astronaut by David Wellington. I'm still not sure how much I like it, horror is usually not my genre.
posted by Harald74 at 12:51 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]

*fingers to temples* reminding my spectrum-disordered ass that it’s important to make an actual, serious effort to empathize with people, even if what they’re saying seems so wildly offbase you can’t imagine anyone ever saying it.

Artw, I think… that if I had begun from the perspective of reflexively hating the technology and being concerned it would alter my employment opportunities or even bankrupt me, and remained steadfastly fixated on only the big headlines written by disinterested journalists who view it as just another emerging trend to chronicle the rise and fall of …then I might share your perspective.

Also if I were on Twitter and ever, ever read a word of what anybody within 400 degrees of Kevin Bacon to Elon was saying. Which I very deliberately make it a point to never do.

As someone all over the subreddits / Discords for Llama-derived LLMs and Stable Diffusion, someone with twenty-five years of deep emotional investment in seeing this technology finally come to life, who is unwilling to simply ignore the profoundly unethical nature of the training set or improving-but-not-great-currently bias against marginalized groups, and yet sees something amazing from individuals and small groups weekly or even daily, stuff I did not believe was possible…that is not how I view any of this. At all.

If I were going to start criticizing anything it would be just how much of the real bleeding edge work within the community remains in service of yet more porn/hentai. Which is “same as it ever was” for tech in general but I really wish this particular one could’ve been a little better on that front.

Oh, and OpenAI’s nextgen plans sound Bitcoin levels of ecologically bad news in terms of energy consumption. The Open Source AI community dropped LLM training costs (and electricity requirements) five orders of magnitude in the three months that followed the Llama “leak.” No way to know whether a repeat of that is possible …so there’s a pretty huge impending TBD on ecological impact in the next year or two.
posted by Ryvar at 1:50 PM on February 14

Well, good luck with that.

The money can’t run out and cause it to die like crypto fast enough as far as I’m concerned.
posted by Artw at 3:03 PM on February 14

Ryvar, I appreciate your point of view and how carefully you've worded things. I was thinking of sharing some ways friends and I have used various LLM-based tools to do good things we couldn't do before, but (a) Artw has made it clear that no points that others make could possibly cause him to consider modifying his thinking on this point, and (b) I hope to also talk about things other than AI/ML in this thread.

Such as:

I'm in the midst of reading/rereading a few of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, specifically the City Watch sub-series. I am particularly interested in sort of doing a fresh survey on how much Pratchett is critical of policing as an institution.
posted by brainwane at 4:48 PM on February 14 [5 favorites]

Y’know, Pratchett’s like the sole major SF author I’ve never read? I should get on that. Thank you for the prompt.
posted by Ryvar at 4:56 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]

(a) Artw has made it clear that no points that others make could possibly cause him to consider modifying his thinking on this point,

Sometimes when my wife and I are driving somewhere we'll pass something she finds appealing, a junk-shop or something she wants to take a picture of or what ever - and a lot of the time I keep driving because we have an appointment or there's a million cars behind us and no place to turn off or... whatever. And maybe she didn't really want to go anyway but just wanted to mention that it was interesting (this comes out when I finally find a place to turn off or turn around or figure we have an extra ten minutes...) I feel the same way about AI - I agree with Artw, it's all bad. What's more, I don't want to stop and check it out more closely because from where I sit in my car, there's probably nothing cool there anyway.

After having watched a number of boom and bust cycles, I expect AI to be yet another of these - it might not, it might be SkyNet (do you know what is going on in eastern Ukraine?) Mostly, I just don't have the bandwidth to devote time and attention to it. But it feels sketchy and possibly catastrophic and if it's not, cool - but if I don't have to fuck with it and can keep it at arms' length, I will. Are there good, intelligent people doing a lot of research on this topic? No doubt. But I have the feeling they are not the ones with the devious plans that look to monetise the tech, whatever the long term results. You know, a recap of the 20th century.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:22 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]

Gonna reply to that slightly out of order:
But it feels sketchy and possibly catastrophic and if it's not, cool - but if I don't have to fuck with it and can keep it at arms' length, I will. Are there good, intelligent people doing a lot of research on this topic? No doubt. But I have the feeling they are not the ones with the devious plans that look to monetise the tech, whatever the long term results.

It is. Sketchy and possibly catastrophic, I mean. Sketchy because there was a right way to reach the point we’re at that didn’t involve just grabbing every bit of English not literally nailed down without the consent of the authors. And that route was not pursued because the thing Silicon Valley is most addicted to is ignoring regulation and inconvenient laws until they reach a “heads I win, tails you lose” inflection point. And I’d say we keep letting them but the more awful truth is that our system is deliberately broken this way and we’re helpless to prevent it (where “we” = people with some semblance of ethics).

Potentially catastrophic because at some point not very long after most people commenting in this thread have died, we’re going to see actual AGI as opposed to next year’s goalpost-shifted bullshit “AGI,” and building systems capable of iterative self-improvement that do not deeply intertwine improved capability with improved ethics when defining “self-improvement” is a great way to delete your own species. Long way off and lots could change, but my faith in humans getting that part right after seeing the “Sketchy” above? …yeah. Bruised.

After having watched a number of boom and bust cycles, I expect AI to be yet another of these

This part, and Artw’s “The money can’t run out and cause it to die like crypto fast enough” are wrong, though. As in flatly, objectively wrong. Lemme explain:

Let’s take the most cynical possible view and say LLMs never amount to more than spicy autocomplete for the boring, boilerplate bits of programming. Something they already do. That is a tens of billions of dollars a year industry once it’s fully fleshed out and sufficient - just that one usage case - to sustain continued development for decades. And that is the most cynical view.

Let’s go a step further: tomorrow morning we wake up and our society has suddenly transformed into the best reasonably possible version of itself. The entire United States is now Norway without the petro-economy-Omelas shit, plus Universal Basic Income for all. And to top it off, all LLMs trained on copyrighted material gathered without the authors’ consent are now illegal and this is somehow globally enforced.

Even in this crazy fantasy scenario Copilot still works because there is more than enough public domain and Apache/BSD/MIT free-with-attribution code to train it. And enough public domain English text (Project Gutenberg, all federal .gov text) to - if not duplicate ChatGPT-4’s Infinite Reddit Know-It-All - at least string together some mostly coherent English.

So, even in the absolute best-case timeline we could ever possibly see, way out on the furthest edge of the probability curve, systems like Copilot still exist and provide tens of billions of dollars annually of actual society-benefitting value for decades.

So, grudgingly jumping back to reality: no, this is not and never will be crypto. It is useful in a manner that will never go away. Multiple implementations of the entire software stack are now open source. Genie is to Bottle as Horse is to Barn.

And the reason I am so insistent on this point is that I’ve read tens of thousands of ArtW comments and thousands of FromBklyn comments (not all of them, but…half?) and I genuinely care about you both. I wouldn’t take the time to write any of this if I didn’t give a shit. Refusing to confront an uncomfortable truth about what the future looks like is how Republicans became so screwed up. Eventually the psychic injury of accepting their privilege was coming to an end became too painful to contemplate and they collectively opted to just break from reality altogether. And I don’t want to see something like that happen to any of the familiar faces on Metafilter.

And if that’s still not sufficient reason, then consider this: unless you’re putting bread on the table with spam, scams, listicles or deeply cliched concept art, the current generation of AI is not going to kill your job. There’s going to be churn - in some cases ugly churn - but (for example) professional writing will still be a job for humans after the smoke clears. It will look very different in an editorial sort of way, but it will still be recognizable as professional writing. And the next couple years? This is the only time you’re going to be able to shape what that very different looks like; by sitting down with your peers, seeing where things are and what can be done, and figuring out how to swim with the tide in a way that doesn’t end with your job evolving into something thoroughly miserable. You deserve better than that. We all do.
posted by Ryvar at 6:00 AM on February 15 [4 favorites]

You know what I'm hoping for from AI? Truly? Better health care outcomes.

Here is why. Human medicine is more complex than any one person can comprehend. That's why we have specialists. And even if you can get access to a specialist, which even in socialized medicine societies is by no means guaranteed, that specialist is going to suffer from the same assumptions, prejudices, limitations and overwork as any other human.

If we can get a large model diagnostician -- properly trained and kept up to date with symptoms, treatments and outcomes -- that will spit out not a single diagnosis, but a series of possibilities and tests to use to confirm/reject them, it will save countless lives. I'm not talking about billions of dollars of benefit to corporations in writing faster code, whoop de fucking shit. I'm talking about diagnosing medical conditions in minutes/hours/days that might take weeks/months/years/never for normal overworked physicians to address, and allowing uncountable millions of people to have longer, healthier, happier lives.

* Note I do not suggest Doctor AI should hold the keys to accessing medicine. It should always just be used as a tool to make suggestions and provide thoughtful guidance, always having a human doctor who has taken the oath make actual decisions about healthcare.

I'm not naive, I'm sure this technology will be also used to fuck people over in healthcare, because capitalism. But I also believe this is where large models can truly do the most good for humanity. By integrating probabilities from a corpus of information far too vast for a single human to understand the scope of, much less comprehend, informed decisions can be made with guidance otherwise simply impossible to receive.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:26 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]

Also, and this is kind of huge, Air Canada has been forced to comply with the nonsense its chatbot spewed. That's an extremely important precedent for "chatbots" used by corporations in customer-facing roles.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:12 AM on February 15 [6 favorites]

I've also been enjoying reading the gentle fantasy romances of Celia Lake. As the author describes them:
These cosy historical romances explore life, magic, and love. My characters have come through challenging times (emotionally, physically, or both). They’re ready to look around and figure out what’s next and make the world around them a little bit better.

My books are full of magical potions, numinous experiences, competence, and romance. Along with the occasional dragon, brushes with ancient lore and the dance of the land magic.
I never get tired of the moments these protagonists notice and appreciate how considerate the other has been!

Here's her suggestions on where to start; I started with Outcrossing and enjoyed it.
posted by brainwane at 8:20 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]

And - since I am rereading some of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books -- I recently reread the amazing short Discworld fanfic that justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow posted as a MeFi comment in 2012, a letter from Vetinari to Drumknott, that speaks to me as a person who sometimes stewards institutions.

"....We are flawed creatures, and we live in a world such that the choices that seem open to us generally make us contemptible, or evil if we seek something grander. The door to nobility of self is generally barred when it is not invisible. I have tried to build a city that offered men and women a different set of alternatives..."
posted by brainwane at 8:22 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]

Reading “The Rules of Sapphire Point” by Samantha Manuel. The author describes it as a ‘Sapphic romance’ - and it’s helping me get over a limerent episode.

My other current read is the Fanfare threads on Star Trek: STRANGE NEW WORLDS. An episode in S2 made me bawl like a baby at the end: “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.” I’m just so overjoyed about this series. Been waiting a long time for it.
posted by edithkeeler at 9:50 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]

I don't have neurological disease!!!!

That's a relief.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:18 AM on February 15 [14 favorites]

If we can get a large model diagnostician -- properly trained and kept up to date with symptoms, treatments and outcomes -- that will spit out not a single diagnosis, but a series of possibilities and tests to use to confirm/reject them, it will save countless lives.

Counter-argument anecdote about AI in medical diagnosis use:

I am prone to cysts, especially in my breast tissue. Every single mammogram I've ever gotten has some spots on it that look like they're potential problems, and I end up having to then immediately get a sonogram afterward - where someone takes a look at all of those spots and sees "oh, no, that's just a cyst, it's fine." The last time I had a mammogram, it was the AI system that flagged all those potential problems. It still necessitated a human to give me a sonogram and determine "oh, yeah, this is just a cyst, it's nothing."

I only know that for me that's a necessity because of a long-standing history of having this be a thing I need to do (my doctor and I knee-jerk sign me up for a mammogram with a sonogram immediately after because of this). If I were new to having mammograms, and didn't now this might be an issue, it would at least cost me some several days of worry.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:27 PM on February 15

(Thank you, Ryvar, for the thoughtful, insight-full, considerate comment.)
posted by From Bklyn at 1:07 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]

Ryvar: “So, grudgingly jumping back to reality: no, this is not and never will be crypto. It is useful in a manner that will never go away. Multiple implementations of the entire software stack are now open source. Genie is to Bottle as Horse is to Barn.”
I, too, genuinely appreciate your thoughtful answers about how LLMs are here to stay, Ryvar.

My misgivings towards OpenAI are based the support of Altman, et al., for the noxious ideas summarized by the acronym TESCREAL.

Twitter thread of 13 March 2023 with receipts by Émile P. Torres, author of the article linked above.

“‘Doomers’ vs. ‘Hyper-Racists’: The Contest of Terrible Ideas that Got Sam Altman Fired From OpenAI,” David Z. Morris, Dark Markets, 20 November 2023

“‘The Sam Altman saga shows that AI doomers have lost a battle,’” [] Alexandre Piquard, Le Monde, 01 December 2023
posted by ob1quixote at 11:12 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]

General Yammering:

So, I'm still in an uneasy "adjustment" stage about the new job. It's got me uneasy because I'm having mixed feelings about it, and the last time I had mixed feelings about a new job it was a shit-show.

I'm just continuing to remind myself that:

a) The last time I had mixed feelings about a new job it was about 3 months in, and it was based on watching my boss and my only co-worker do some slightly shady shit, and the job start changing to be more sales-based than what they'd told me, and

b) the mixed feelings now are coming in only 2 weeks in, and are mainly about having to make the jump from being "the laid-back office manager who didn't have much to do because she was so efficient at her duties" to being "the executive assistant supporting 3 members of the leadership team and the entire board of directors and she's still learning what to do and HOLY SHIIIIIIIT I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO THINGS AROUND HERE AND FEEL DUMB THAT I HAVE TO ASK THE PROCESS FOR SENDING A FREAKING FEDEX OH GOD".

The pay here is good, the benefits are really good, it's early days, this will pass, I just need to keep swimming. (I think they have finished surprising me with new "so here's another thing we'll need you to do around here" stuff, and I've started digesting that list so I think we're past the worst of it.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:42 AM on February 17 [4 favorites]

Oh, yeah, adding another yammer:

It snowed overnight here in NYC and it's GORGEOUS, and it's a 3 day weekend and I don't have anything doing today outside the house except a quick errand. I'm also due to get my Rancho Gordo delivery today, so I will likely pick up a couple basic groceries on the way home, and spend the rest of the weekend in some hardcore domesticity and nesting (hanging some pictures I've been meaning to hang, prep cooking with beans for the week ahead, and baking something awesome). And at some point tonight I'll lock in another of the Best Picture nominees for the blog - I mentioned my blog to my new boss and she is super-into it now, so I want to get the next Oscar Review post up there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:48 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

I'm also due to get my Rancho Gordo delivery today

I'm pretty sure I owe you a very belated thank you for this, since I learned about their bean club from one of your comments long ago and have been enjoying it ever since.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:55 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


I also mentioned that to my boss yesterday (my company has this thing where you and your boss have an hour-long shoot-the-breeze get-to-know-you session, and we got so caught up in discussing our first "what do you do for fun" question that we have to have a second session). She's puzzled but intrigued; I said it was proof I was a "stereotypical bougie Brooklyn foodie hipster" and she's amused at that. I'll have to take a picture of the bean club haul this weekend and show off.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:59 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]

As I was taking the trash out to the dumpster the other day, I noticed someone had thrown out three laptops (power cords and all) - they were stacked on top of each other, on top of some old bit of furniture, all right next to the dumpster so it was clearly all "trash". And although it was a drizzly day they looked like they had only barely been rained on at the moment. I looked at them, hesitated knowing the chances were dim that any of them were worth messing with, hesitated again because hey ya never know, then thought what the hell, I'll give it a shot and snagged them. I figured I'd see if they worked at all, and if so try putting Linux on them, given they were probably not high-end machines in the first place and would probably work better without all the Windows bloat. I'd always wanted to experiment with setting up a Linux box but had never had a computer to devote to it.

Long story short two won't boot, probably due to hardware issues. I'm not going to bother trying to resurrect them, I'll just take them to recycling. But one - probably the newest one, maybe 4-5 years old - does. Well, it doesn't have a hard drive, but it doesn't just beep incessantly when I turn it on, and shows a BIOS message that there's no boot drive available. I was able to boot Linux (Mint Cinnamon, if anyone cares) off a USB stick, though of course I can't actually install it without a hard drive. Screen looks good, keyboard and Wi-Fi work, I think it's worth keeping.

So last night I ordered a 1TB SSD for $70 and an 8GB memory chip (to replace the installed 4GB one) and I'm waiting for that to arrive...then I'm finally gonna get off my lazy Windows butt, learn Linux, and see if this is finally the Year of Linux on the Desk(lap)top!
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:28 AM on February 17 [7 favorites]

My reading is largely around contemporary climate change science and research, and digital game development - especially the intersection of the two, hence a recent AskMeFi question. This is sucking up a lot of my time, though as it's enjoyable (I haz techniques to cope with climate anxiety) I don't mind; the ongoing and complicated and messy change in research direction should take me through to whatever will pass as "retirement" in the years ahead.

Apart from that, I'm also reading draft posts I did a while ago for (yet) an(other) attempt at blogging, and some books on creating text adventures, for another attempt at making one of those. And a blog post by someone else from 2011 which I commented on, and we both rediscovered this last few days, which has been the highlight of my year so far. The itch to travel is back; it never completely went away.
posted by Wordshore at 2:15 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]

Speaking of being very busy with research - I'm taking half a step back / temporarily away from a lot of online and offline things for a while to make space and time. This includes MetaFilter.

Therefore, handing over the baton of doing the Monday Free Thread posts to whoever wants to do them. I guess it's a case of if you don't see a post on a Monday and you want one, then, well, make one.

Have fun, MeFites. See you at {undefined point in future}.
posted by Wordshore at 2:18 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]

I’ll be missing Jagr’s jersey retirement ceremony this evening due to a mandatory commitment (I was planning on watching it on tv) and I’m feeling a bit salty about that at the moment. As I was awakened at 5:00 AM by the pounding bass from a vehicle visiting our asshat of a neighbor, I’m tasting high levels of sodium.

I know at least two people going to the game so I’ll be begging for photos and video. If you know anything about Pittsburgh hockey, this jersey retirement is kind of a big deal.

Mayhem and Menace had vet exams this week. Both have dropped into healthier weights since I started portioning their food after Wigford died. All behavior issues are due to the fact they just hate each other, which is apparently very common when dynamics change, Wigford may have been old but he was THE BOSS. The vet gave some good recommendations for supplements and is amiable to prescribing Prozac if his recommendations don’t pan out.

Wordshore, thank you for everything. Your posts are gold standard.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 3:27 AM on February 18 [4 favorites]

A gloomy grey day here, a thick old duvet of cloud obscuring the sky and weighing on the spirits, rain, rain and more rain, the gutters are full, the down pipes a torrent, even the grebes, coots and swans look bedraggled on the canal outside, 40 feet from the front door ( a 17th century attempt to protect the city from the flooding of the mighty Rhine). Our winters are wetter and milder, our summers dryer and hotter. Neither sits well with me (mental note, don't turn into an old misery, regulate your own emotional climate). We're off soon to Malaga for a week of blue skies and sunshine. Right this minute, I'd swap our water for their sun which is somewhat ironic given that the Malaguese (?) would undoubtedly do the same, sun for water, given the chronic water shortage on the Costa del Sol. What did the Mighty U Roy say back in the day?' Wanty wanty no gitty, gitty gitty no want.' Folks ain't never satisfied and I be folks!
posted by dutchrick at 4:32 AM on February 18

Wordshore, thank you for everything. Your posts are gold standard.

Amen to these good words, theBigRedKittyPurrs, and thank you, in passing, for a rare opportunity to write, the Big Red Kitty Purrs, not words one often gets to say!
posted by dutchrick at 4:52 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]

Currently making braised beef short ribs and the house smells really good. I got a later start than I meant to, so this will be for tomorrow's dinner because after browning the meat and sautéing the mirepoix, the whole thing has to slow-cook for about 4 hours in the oven. Then after removing the meat and straining out the vegetables it will take probably another hour+ to reduce the liquid to a glaze, at which point it'll be 7 or 8pm before that's all done - to late a dinner-time for me. Not only that, all the fat needs to be removed from the liquid before reducing it, and the easy way to do that is chill the liquid in the fridge overnight so you can just pull the hard fat cap off the top in one easy swoop. Besides, this kind of thing always tastes better the next day anyway! So I'll reduce the sauce tomorrow while I make parmesan polenta for a base and a gremolata garnish, and re-warm the ribs. Here's a good YouTube video of the process for anyone who's interested.

I'm a-tremble with anticipation.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:28 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]

hard fat cap = sockpuppet name
posted by hippybear at 5:21 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]

Last week I finished reading Moby Dick. Somehow I'd always just assumed that they got the whale - NO! Do I need to put a spoiler alert for a book from the mid 1800s? MOBY DICK SANK THE PEQUOD! I did not see that coming, it was a very dramatic ending! The ship and all 4 of her small boats went down, only our narrator Ishmael as survivor. I really really enjoyed the book though, far more than I'd expected I would. I believe I am not done with Herman Melville, but he'll have to wait a bit.

Next on the list is Don Quixote. In March I'm seeing an updated retelling of that story, and I like to at least dip into the original source material first. The play is Nuevo Quixote, set in modern day Texas, dealing with immigration and border drones and such.

Those are my current audiobook reads, I'm also partway into 3 or 4 book-books, but I have a harder time keeping the attention for that kind of reading.
posted by dorey_oh at 7:40 PM on February 19

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