Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep or History Podcasts I Nod Off To

Several weeks ago I decided to stop falling asleep to whatever audiobook I was currently listening to because I spent too much time the following morning figuring out where I drifted off to dreamland.  In other words, what’s the last thing I remembered coherently before losing consciousness?  So I switched to podcasts of a different nature that didn’t require as much of my brain engaged to follow along.

Screenshot_20180605-140351For example, I use Podcast Addict exclusively now for my podcast listening.  I set the sleep timer to thirty minutes and then I review my playlist.  I rearrange it, usually putting the shorter episodes at the top.  Sometimes I just select on of Dr. Corey Olsen‘s Mythgard Academy Tolkien podcasts because they are always nearly two hours long and I can hop in and out of those without too much loss.

One podcast that I really like to fall asleep to, and re-listen to if I nod off too quickly, has been The History of Rome by Mike Duncan. Duncan started the podcast in 2007 so some of the first episode show their age (auditorially  speaking).  This week, I reached episodes 20 (a & b) related to the First Punic War.  The oddest thing I heard last night was the Romans building walls around a city they were besieging because another army had arrived upon the field and now threatened and surrounded them.  The Romans besieged while besieging. This is not going to end well (and unsurprisingly it did not).

Aside from the Stuff You Missed In History Class podcast, I hadn’t been listening to any other history podcasts.  But I enjoyed both of these quite a bit, which got me looking for more history related listening.  This week, I’m testing out three new podcasts, one of them the current endeavor of Mike Duncan, called Revolutions.

I found a short fifteen minute history podcast produced by the University of Texas at Austin.  I’m on the third episode but not sure I’ll continue.  I’ll give it a couple more before unsubscribing.

I have high hopes for Ben Franklin’s World, I just hope they are not all interviews.  The first three episodes are inaugural introductory interviews.

All of these history podcasts have hundreds of episodes under their collective belts so I have a dearth of listening available and won’t need to resort to counting sheep or backwards from one hundred to transition to dream land successfully.

 

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Zo ExZited

Third Zucchini Closeup

Click on any photo to see entire album.

Last night, after walking and feeding the dogs, I let them out into the back yard as the sun was setting. Since the wind had died completely and the light was that perfect golden twilight time, I took a few photos of our summer container garden.  It has been a few days since I’d checked the interior of the zucchini plant (pictured above) and I quickly noticed the large yellowish-green bloom.

This morning, as I was watering the plants, it was hard to miss this bright beautiful yellow zucchini blossom among the green leaves of the rest of the plant:

Zucchini Bloom

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Posted in Dogs, Family, Musings, Rottweilers, Seasons, Summer | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Raven Stratagem (3.5 Stars)

Raven Stratagem
by Yoon Ha Lee

Published: June 13, 2017 by Solaris Books

Read: May/June 2018

2017 GoodReads Choice Nominee for Science Fiction
2018 Best Novel Hugo Finalist

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This time last year I was reading the first installment in the Machineries of Empire series called Ninefox Gambit, as part of my annual Hugo Award finalist binge reading.  I remember liking the book quite a bit, but in the intervening months I’ve nearly completely forgotten everything I read.  So, when I started reading Raven Stratagem in late May this year, again because Yoon Ha Lee’s work was nominated and became a finalist for the Best Novel Hugo Award, I almost wish I’d re-read the first book.  Continue reading

Posted in 4 Star, Books, Fiction, Ratings, Reading, Reviewing, Reviews, Science Fiction, Space Opera | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Field Notes from My Retro Utopian Adventure

I’m in the final phase of my Hugo finalist reading, concentrating on the Best Novel category.  In the right-hand panel of my blog, you’ll find my “Currently Reading” widget which is just the RSS feed for my GoodReads status updates.  Three of the four books I’m currently actively reading are finalists.  I’m listening, or attempting to listen despite major shortcomings of the Axis 360 app, to Ann Leckie’s Provenance.  When I get too frustrated with listening, I switch to the ebook edition.  Last night and this morning, I’ve been powering through the middle of Raven Stratagem.  Earlier this week and most of last weekend, I immersed myself in the 1943 Best Novel finalist Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright.

I wish there existed a well researched biography of Mr. Wright, aside from the few paragraphs found in his Wikipedia entry.  His immediate family alone would make for an interesting read as well: “He was the son of classical scholar John Henry Wright and novelist Mary Tappan Wright, the brother of geographer John Kirtland Wright, and the grandfather of editor Tappan Wright King.” (Wikipedia).  Continue reading

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App Review: Axis 360 (1 star)

Application: Axis 360 (version 3.7.3 released 4/9/2018)

Developer/Published: Baker & Taylor

Platform: Android (version 7.0)

Device: Samsung Galaxy S7

Rating: 1 star

When it comes to Android apps that purport to provide me access to the digital resources of my local library, I’ve learned to not set the bar very high, if at all. All of the apps I’ve tried, and still struggle with, have slowly improved over the last couple of years, but whenever possible, I avoid using them for the same reason I only purchase audiobooks from Downpour: no proprietary software required and no DRM applied.

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Summer Patio Container Gardening

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We haven’t tried our hands at gardening for a couple of years. Our raised bed has been overtaken by oak and maple tree saplings which are now taller than me; as well as leftover containers, fencing and tomato cages from our last gardening effort. We invested in new larger containers this year (larger than five-gallon buckets) and planted two cherry tomatoes, two Cherekee heirlooms and two jalapeno plants on May 9th. A week or so later I planted a lone zucchini plant. I love zucchini and wanted to try one to see how well it does.

Ten days after transplanting the seedlings (shown above in the first photo), we already had baby tomatoes on both of our cherry tomato plants.

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Today, I finally saw blossoms on the heirloom plants (but not baby tomatoes yet).

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And the jalapeno plants both of small baby peppers.

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The zucchini appears to be blooming as well, or at least I think these are blooms (near the base/root of the plant):

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My husband thinks we may have cherry tomatoes to harvest in another ten days. Since it’s been in the mid 90s the last two days, he might be on to something.

Click this link see our Summer Patio Garden photo album.

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Unexpected Heart-Pounding Action-Adventure in Under 7,500 Words

I seem to have left the best for last in my Retro Hugo short fiction reading.  This morning, I started reading and could not stop reading “The Sunken Land” by Fritz Leiber.  His writing took me back to the days when I immersed myself in the writings of Robert E. Howard. And once I reviewed his mini-biography at Wikipedia, I understood why I felt that affinity: “With writers such as Robert E. Howard and Michael Moorcock, Leiber can be regarded as one of the fathers of sword and sorcery fantasy, having coined the term.”

The Sunken Land” pulled me along for a ride with Fafhrd, leaving the Grey Mouser as a bookend to the story.  Leiber used a very active voice that left you no time to catch your breath from the first inhalation to the last gasp.

This leaves me with something of a dilemma in deciding which 1942 short story gets my top vote for the Retro Hugo Award.  I haven’t yet reread Asimov’s “Runaround” but I remember it being very good.  I will listen to it next week as an audiobook.  Before I read “The Sunken Land” by Leiber, I had planned on ranking “Runaround” as my first choice.  Then there’s also Clement’s hard science-fiction story “Proof,” which I read yesterday and ranked second after Asimov’s entry.  Both Asimov and Clement are the traditional science fiction types that are most often associated with a Hugo Award.  But my first love is fantasy and Leiber knows how to write a gripping tale.  I will have to ponder my vote and you will have to wait and find out until after I re-read the classic robot logic problem that is “Runaround.”

 

Posted in 4 Star, Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Ratings, Reading, Reviewing, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment