Monthly Archives: August 2012

Friday Link: RIP Neil Armstrong

You probably heard that Neil Armstrong passed away earlier this week, taking with him the end of an era.

When I was growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, the moon landings were long gone, but there was still a sense of hope and excitement around space exploration. The shuttle program was in its heyday, Voyager 2 was cruising through the solar system, the Mir space station and then the International Space Station were launched, and the Hubble Space Telescope was new. I was quite prepared to believe that space colonization was on the horizon.

That’s not true anymore, Mars missions notwithstanding. With the loss of the shuttle program, and only robots landing on other bodies, space seems farther away than ever.

RIP, Neil Armstrong. Here’s a wonderful photo essay celebrating his life.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Books for a Mars Landing.


One Lovely Blog Award: Seven Facts About Me

One Lovely Blog AwardToday’s post comes to you courtesy of Ellen Gregory, who tagged me for a blog badge, the One Lovely Blog Award. The rules of the game require giving seven facts about yourself. So here, in no particular order, are seven things I haven’t shared here before (but will probably talk more about later!).

1. I’m 100% Norwegian. I was born in Canada, as were my parents, but three of my grandparents were born in Norway. The fourth was born in North Dakota to Norwegian immigrant parents.

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Convention Report: Fan Expo 2012

Usually Mondays on this blog are devoted to books, sometimes movies. But in my head, the theme is “Media Mondays”, so today I’m going to write about something media-related that hasn’t been featured on this blog before.

You Must Be Over 18

Photo by Louise K. (link at bottom of post)

I’m talking about a con — a science fiction/fantasy convention.

First, a brief primer on cons. There are two main types. The first is literature-oriented, focusing on books and book-related discussions. Guests tend to be authors and editors. The second is all about visual media — movies, TV, comics, anime/manga, gaming. Guests tend to be TV stars and comic book artists. This is the kind of con where people dress up in costume (cosplay). It’s much larger than the first kind.

I’ve been to both kinds over the years. The con I’m writing about today is of the second type — Fan Expo, an annual convention held in Toronto.

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Friday Links to Combat Despair

Here are the two best blog posts I’ve read this week. I share these links not because I’m in a bad head-space now, but because I have been before and may well be again. They’re geared to writers, but if you’re not a writer you may still find something of value.

From Ollin Morales at Courage 2 Create:

Listen, nobody has ever looked at a tree, pointed to it and said:

“I can’t wait until that tree accomplishes something meaningful!”

That would be ridiculous. Because we would all agree that the tree has ALREADY accomplished something VERY meaningful: it has successfully accomplished being a tree.

Read the rest.

From Jan O’Hara at Writer Unboxed:

Contents of a Writer’s Emergency Hope Kit

1. An “accolades and compliments” file

Screen shots, emails, blog comments, reader feedback—in short, any feedback you’ve received which is positive and implies faith in your writing.

2. Links to particularly inspiring blog posts, books, Youtube clips, quotes, photos, lists of movies, even foods that when eaten make you feel abundant.

Really, you can include anything which has the capacity to open and warm your cockled heart.

Lots more ideas.

To tell you the truth, I already have a file and a set of bookmarks like the ones she suggests…I just forget to add to them or even use them. Maybe I’ll share them with you one of these days, in case you find them uplifting too.

That’s it for this week. See you back here on Monday!


Remembering This Summer

This has been a long, hot summer — glorious or tiresome, depending on your preferences — but it’s drawing to a close at last. Over the past week I’ve felt a chill in the air, the first hints of autumn. Another season almost over.

It’s been an eventful and hectic summer for me. As I look back on it, I’m trying to fix in my mind the way I want to remember it…

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How Do You Choose Books?

How do you choose the books you read?

To me, there are way too many good books, too little time (for values of “good” that are personal, not objective). I’m constantly running across a new book that sounds intriguing, but I’m only reading about 25 books a year. That means I somehow have to narrow down the list. A lot.

Here’s what a book has to go through before it gets into my hands.

1. I find out it exists. This usually happens through blogs such as The Whatever, Cheryl’s Mewsings, or The World SF Blog; from awards shortlists; from various best-of lists; and from (mostly online) friends or acquaintances. I find so many books this way that I don’t browse in bookstores anymore — when I go into a bookstore, I’m looking for something that’s already on my list.

2. The book languishes in my TBR overflow. The books I find in Step 1 go into a massive overflow list in my email or my RSS feed for future investigation. Lately, they’ve been stopping here because I haven’t had time to check them out  further, but when I do…

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Weekly Link: Old Spice meets Old English

Remember that Old Spice commercial from a few years ago? To refresh your memory of those abs, here it is again…

Anyway. Here’s what it might have sounded like in Beowulf’s time…

He spoke these words: / “Look upon me.
Now upon yourselves. / Again upon me.
You are not me.” / Deep his voice
Like thunder’s cry / or breath of God.

Read the rest of the poem by Castiron at AO3 (for the uninitiated, that’s the Archive of Our Own, a site for transformative works like fanfiction). (Found via Making Light.)

That’s it for the week. See you on Monday!

My Love Affair with IKEA

I’ve had a relationship with IKEA for a very long time, dating back to the days when I was small enough to go in the ball pit (wistful sigh).

My earliest memories — besides the ball pit — involve helping to choose a bunk bed for my younger sister and me to share, after my brother was born and my sister lost her room. Not only was it fun to crawl all over the different beds, we got to go in the warehouse section, huge and industrial, with shelves stacked unimaginably high. And then…we got to help assemble the bunk bed. Best thing ever.

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Books for a Mars Landing

So we’re on Mars again! I didn’t watch the feed from NASA, but I saw the amazing landing video (seriously, if you haven’t seen it, go look. I’ll wait) and have been avidly sucking up all the photos being posted on the mission’s website.

Looking at pictures we’ve taken on the surface of another planet always moves me to tears. I can’t believe we’re really out there, down there, sitting on dirt that is not of this world, looking up at another sky. It looks so much like Earth, and yet, with all that red rock and that faded orange sky, so unlike, so alien.

I’m a lapsed physics geek. For a while I wanted to go into astronomy, dreaming of working for NASA or SETI. Why? Science fiction, plain and simple. So today, I’m presenting a list of books inspired by our return to Mars.

(Honourable mentions, disqualified for being too obvious: War of the Worlds; Dune; the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson.)

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Weekly Link: Picturing Books

Okay, so it’s not Friday. Whoops. I regret nothing.

Here’s something that touched me this week, a painting by Jesse Willcox Smith:

Child reading

Found via’s lovely round-up of book-related art. Go look! And I’ll see you back here on Monday.