101 in 1001 ~ update the twelfth

It’s time for the 12th update on my 101 in 1001 Challenge! If you haven’t been following along on this journey so far or have any questions about what the challenge is, you can check out this link for details.

It’s June! Officially summertime in the Northern Hemisphere. I’m not sure I’m entirely happy about that, but there you are. I tend to prefer spring and fall, but here in my part of California our springs and falls are shortened a bit by summer encroaching on either side. (I can’t imagine places that are warmer still than we are. Some Facebook friends in Vegas and Arizona talk about their weather, and I just shudder.)

But like it or not, it’s sunny and (mostly) warm! (This has been a really weird year for weather.) And I do like our summers, I’m just never ready for them to start. Oh well. Start it has!

Here’s this month’s challenge progress:

June 2017
3 items completed this month (& 1 cancelled)
29 items currently in progress

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Personal #69: Watch 5 documentaries ~ 6/2/2017

I watched these over the span of a few months, and enjoyed them all. (Some more than others, obviously.) I watched: Atari: Game Over; Minecraft: The Story of Mojang; For the Love of Spock; Back In Time; and Waking Sleeping Beauty. Of them, I would recommend them all if you are into the subject matter. For instance, if you like the “Back to the Future” trilogy, you’d probably enjoy Back In Time. If you play Minecraft or enjoy hearing about video game developers, you’d probably like Minecraft: The Story of Mojang. However, if you don’t have an interest in those, you probably wouldn’t get much out of them.

The two I think I would recommend universally, however (and my two favorites), are For the Love of Spock and Waking Sleeping Beauty. Both of those seem to me to have a more general appeal, even though they are still about specific topics which some people will enjoy more than others. It’s hard, however, to imagine someone in modern culture who doesn’t know who Spock is, or who hasn’t seen a movie from the Disney Animation Renaissance (Little Mermaid, Beauty & the Beast, Lion King, etc). For both of these, though, be warned. I needed Kleenex.

Arts & Crafts #15: Needle felt at least one project – CANCELLED

I am cancelling this one. I’ve decided I’m just not interested in continuing this hobby, so I’m giving my supplies (the ones worth keeping) to my sister, who still enjoys needle felting. And instead I’m going to focus on the hobbies I do enjoy: knitting, crocheting, and sewing. I may even get back into cross stitching, if I end up with extra craft time. (Unlikely, but I suppose it’s possible…)

Health #49: Use Invisalign to get my teeth straight ~ 6/19/2017

All done! I’m still supposed to wear the aligners all the time for 3-4 months, but the part where the teeth are moving is done. Now it’s just maintenance and retainer wear. Yay!

Arts & Crafts #10: Go through needle felting supplies and get rid of what I won’t use ~ 6/29/2017

I got this one in just under the wire! After deciding that I wasn’t going to continue with needle felting, it was just a matter of pulling all my felting supplies out and setting them aside. And since I know someone else who is going to keep needle felting, I was able to give the stuff to her to do with as she pleases. (I realize that not everyone has the same taste, so some of the things I thought would make good projects might be things she has no interest in. But I’m leaving that choice up to her.)

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There are a couple more items that are that close to being done, but aren’t yet. Still, getting three items completed this month isn’t bad progress at all. It does bring me to a total of 28 challenge items complete (with 2 more being sent to the “incomplete” list). Essentially 28% complete (or 30% accounted for, if you include the incomplete list ones) with just under a year over (and about a year and a half left to go). Not bad! I especially think it’s not bad since several of the items are close to being complete, and several others aren’t going to be done until the final month of the challenge, anyway. (You know, the “do this every month of the challenge” items.)

I hope summer (or winter) is good to you!

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Friday Reads ~ in which I play catch-up

First off, I have been catching up on reviews. I think I’ve finished all of them now (until I finish another book). I finished my review of NPH’s Choose Your Own Autobiography, which can be found here. I also wrote my review of Drew Hayes’ NPCs, which is here. My review of Down Among the Sticks and Bones is here, and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is reviewed here.

WHAT I READ:

I finished The Cat Who Saw Red by Lilian Jackson Braun (Cat Who #4) and was amused that the murder in this murder mystery wasn’t officially a murder until the very end of the book. That’s a different turn of events for a murder mystery. My full review of the book is here, and I’ll be taking a brief break from Cat Who books for now.

In addition, I have read some great web-based short fiction this week. My friend Chris posted links to two stories in particular which caught my interest: this one about a sorcerer and a teeny dragon (WANT!!), and this one about the red strings of fate which link two soulmates together. (Wiki article about the strings of fate) If you haven’t read those, you should go check them out.

WHAT I’M READING:

I’m currently listening to The Medieval World by Dorsey Armstrong, one of the Great Courses lecture series. I haven’t gotten very far yet (this particular one is a longer series of lectures than the one I listened to previously) but I’m enjoying it so far. There’s a lot more depth to the subject than you’re ever taught in regular classes (aka the classes you’ll take unless you take a college course specifically on the Middle Ages) and I’m enjoying getting into the background of what made the Medieval period what it was. (I’m not out of the background stage yet – told you it was a longer lecture series.)

I’m also currently reading Doctor Who: City of Death, novelized by Douglas Adams and James Goss from the screenplay by Davis Fisher. This is a book that Mr. Wyrm gave me (I think last Christmas?) because we keep repeatedly watching the episode with Whovian friends of ours, having forgotten that we watched it together before. In any case, the book starts out being a very definite mix of Adams and Who, and I’m curious to see how it expands upon the plot of the show. It really has to expand upon the plot of the show, because so much of the show was random shots of them running through Paris. (Our friends all joke about how they had to establish the location without a doubt, since they spent the money to film on location.)

And my ebook is still Xenation: Draw the Line by Lazette Gifford, but I have done more reading of it than is usual for me on a non-short-story ebook. Which means so far, so good. I’m certainly enjoying the world-building of this one.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT:

I think I’ll listen to another fiction audio book after this. I tend to stay most interested when I switch up my audio book genres, so that sounds like a good plan to me. I’m not sure which fiction audio book I’ll listen to next, though. Quite likely (thought not definitely) Split the Party, Drew Hayes’ sequel to NPCs.

My next ebook will be Video Game Plotline Tester (The Dark Herbalist book #1) by Michael Atamanov because I got sucked in by an Amazon ad for it. It turns out that what I’ve considered RPG fantasy stories (aka Ready Player One by Ernest Cline or Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson) are part of a new genre called LitRPG. It seems that LitRPG is mostly supposed to be set in MMO games, but frankly I think it could apply equally well to tabletop games (like Drew Hayes’ NPCs). Anyway, the genre caught my attention, as did that book in particular, so that will be my next ebook.

For paper books… I have no idea. I liked what I did last time, which was to go to my TBR pile and grab something at random. I might do that again this time. OR… I might re-read something. The Medieval World has me interested in re-reading The Canterbury Tales, so maybe I’ll read that (again) next.

WIP Weds ~ in which there is finally sock progress

There has been knitting this week, yay! I’ve been working on both the 22 Leaves Shawl and the Hyrule socks. However, since the shawl is at the point where each row takes a half-hour to complete, I don’t have any progress pictures of it. Taking progress pictures that don’t really show progress depresses me, so let’s look at sock progress pictures instead.

Hyrule sock progress

I’ve started the heel increases on the second sock. And I’m really, really, REALLY glad that there’s not much left to knit after the heel turn, because I’m not convinced I’ll have enough yarn to finish.

Hyrule sock progress

This, though, is why I stopped the first sock before finishing it. If needed, I will do the top part of the sock (hopefully just the ribbing) in a contrasting or complementary color. Maybe an off-white, if I have something the right weight in the stash. (I think I do.)

I am enjoying this knit, but the way the pattern biases I think I’m going to need to officially block this pair instead of just washing it and laying the socks out to dry. I also, if I make these socks again, need to get pointier needles in the correct size. These blunt bamboo needles are driving me slightly crazy on the k3tog stitches. (My fault, though. I looked at the pattern, saw the k3tog, and told myself that I needed pointier needles than I had. And then I convinced myself that this would be fine, and to suck it up. I should have listened to myself… but now finishing the socks on the needles I started them on has become a point of pride.)

Hyrule sock progress

Regardless… look at that yarn color. Isn’t is gorgeous? I love it. I’m so happy working with it. I’m sad that I only bought one skein of it, and yet thrilled that I bought it at all. I’ve missed some of the Lattes and Llamas special colorways and haven’t gotten my hands on all the ones I wanted. This one was a win, though!

Have a great rest of the week!

Misc Monday ~ in which we discuss reading preferences

Let’s talk books today. But not book reviews; let’s go with something more general. Specifically, genre. Do you have a favorite genre? How about a hated genre?

One of the items on my 101 in 1001 Challenge is to read a book in each of six genres (hard sci-fi, western, mystery, biography (non-memior), memoir, and science non-fiction). This is largely because, without any suggestions, reminders, or prompts to do otherwise, I would limit nearly all of my reading to fantasy (including its sub-genres) with the occasional foray into a cozy mystery.

Lately, though, I’ve discovered that I enjoy a well-written memoir. Notable recent memoirs which I have enjoyed include Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist and Wishful Drinking; Neil Patrick Harris’ Choose Your Own Autobiography; Felicia Day’s You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost); and Jenny Lawson’s (aka The Bloggess) Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. It helps that, unlike many biographies, memoirs are written in a more human style. They’re more likely to include humor, and to be something the reader can relate to.

Realizing that I enjoy memoirs has made me wonder what other readings tastes have changed since I was young and developed my default genre preferences. I’ve tried reading “classics” with mixed success, so at least I know that my reading tastes haven’t COMPLETELY changed as I’ve aged. But in the specifics? I tend to think of my sci-fi preferences to be more science-fantasy than hard core science-fiction, but is that still true? And I’ve never read a western. Would I like it? We’ll have to see.

Have you noticed any of your reading preferences which have changed as you grew up? I know that some of my friends and I have discussed how our tolerances (for bad writing, for certain story tropes, etc) have changed, and we now have a hard time reading, much less enjoying, some of our favorite stories from childhood. But is that just that we’ve gotten more discerning as we gained experience, or have our genre preferences changed?

I don’t have any of the answers. But I do know that something is different, in the same way that I now sometimes choose to listen to news radio instead of music (on purpose!!) when I never made that choice as a younger person.

Friday Reads ~ in which I have ebook novel issues

So I’ve been reading a lot (for me) on my ereader lately. (aka Kindle app on my phone) This may speak to the content of what I’ve been reading, but I think it’s more likely related to the length of the ebook. I can read novellas or short stories quite happily on my Kindle app. For some reason full-length books are often harder for me to read digitally. And yet… not always. Sometimes they’re fine. I had been “reading” Paid in Gold and Blood by Lazette Gifford (full-length book) on my app, but never got past the first couple of pages. Various distractions would pop up, and because I knew it was a full-length book, I’d let myself be distracted. However, I know I’ve read a full-length book’s worth of short stories and novellas on my phone in the past month, so I don’t know what the mental hang-up is. I’m officially putting PIGAB in hibernation, and will come back to it when I’ve had more success with long-format ebooks.

WHAT I READ

I finished reading (aka listening to) Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking. (Narrated by the author.) Listening to Carrie narrate this book was hard. There were a few moments (notably where she was talking about times when she had discussed her eventual death with younger friends) when I lost it. On the whole, though, it was a good tribute to a great person. (Full review is here.)

I also read the ebook short story Low Elf Esteem by Elliott James. This is Pax Arcana #0.08, and so falls before Charming and all the rest of the full-length books. It was a fun addition to the series. I’ve read all of the short stories I’m aware of in the series, and have enjoyed them all. Not as much as the novels, but they’re still fun.

WHAT I’M READING

I am, unbelievably, still reading The Cat Who Saw Red by Lilian Jackson Braun. I don’t know why this book is taking me so long to read. I think I need to sit down and make a concerted effort to finish it this weekend.

After finishing my prior audio book, I started listening to The Medieval World by Professor Dorsey Armstrong. It’s one of the Great Courses lecture series. So far so good!

And I started reading Xenation: Draw the Line on my Kindle app. It’s another of Lazette Gifford’s work, but this one is a novella instead of a full-length book. Hopefully I’ll have better luck with it.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT

I picked up Split the Party on audio book, so that might be what I listen to next. (That’s the sequel to NPCs, which I finished and loved recently.) I have a variety of other audio books in the queue already, though, so I might go with one I’ve wanted to read for longer.

As far as ebooks, I’m going to wait and see how well I do with the short book I’ve got going now. If I can manage to use the Kindle app for reading a lot this week, I might move on to a longer book when I’m done with my current one. If not, though, I might be looking for more short stories.

And for paper books, I’m going to dive through my TBR pile (the physical one on my bookshelf) and choose whatever interests me most at the time. So I don’t know exactly what it will be, but I know where it will come from.

WIP Weds ~ in which I don’t knit

I didn’t knit this week.

I know, that sounds unrealistic. But really, I didn’t.

Last week (after my WIP Weds post of last week) I read on my lunch breaks instead of knitting. (And for once I didn’t do both at the same time.) Then I went to a baseball game with my dad on Saturday for an early Father’s Day, and I didn’t bring my knitting with me. (Not sure why. Maybe because we were sitting about 13 rows back from the field and I didn’t want to split my focus between the knitting and the game? Or maybe because it was REALLY HOT and I couldn’t even think about wool.)

Instead of knitting at the game, I got sunburned.

And then, being sunburned on my thighs and arms, I didn’t want to think about wool for even longer.

The sunburn is pretty well faded by now, though, so there should be knitting again next week. In the meantime, here’s an article that I found (through the Space Cadet newsletter) which talks about knitting spies. Really neat article. I’ve read about knitting being used for secret messages in fiction, but wasn’t really aware that it’s based in fact.

Have a great rest of the week!

Misc Monday ~ in which Seanan McGuire is awesome

I wasn’t going to post anything today, since yesterday was Father’s Day and so I didn’t make the time in yesterday’s schedule to write a Misc Monday post the day before like I usually do. (Holidays and such will throw wrenches in blog posting schedules. You know.)

And then I visited some of my blogroll this morning, and saw that Chris posted this link to an AMAZING Twitter thread by Seanan McGuire. And I HAD to repost it.

(If you would rather see it directly on Twitter, you can do that here.)

Anyway. Any Tweet thread that include mention of a Moana protest sing-along and German (and Japanese) translations is well worth reading in my book.

Happy Monday!