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I shall try my best to pummel my memory into submission and give up the bits and pieces of the last week or so. I expect imperfection.

Last Sunday was a graduation party for my nephew at my youngest sister's house; we were early which was my fault, but to be honest it was a pretty good thing because we got to spend a fair amount of time chatting with the nieces and nephew which we both enjoyed. It was supposed to be a BBQ, but we didn't stay for the dinner part. In fact, we left much earlier than we had planned.

You see, one of my mother's friends had been invited, and she informed us that Mom had apparently hurt herself and wasn't coming to the party. Because she lives now only a shrot distance away, we excused ourselves and went to see how she was. She was uncomfortable, but I was able to give her some suggestions on how to address her problem, and in the upcoming days, she had improved comfort and mobility.

We followed that with my pre-birthday celebration; Bridget and I went to Ink, a restaurant in Beverly Hills, I think, opened by a winner of the Top Chef TV show. We agreed that the entree and sides were incredible, but the appetizers and desserts were forgettable.

At work later in the week, two of the offices where I worked the staff decorated my office space for my birthday; helium balloons appear to be very popular. The Ontario office got me a birthday cake, while the Pomona office fed me pizza. I'm abashed at their willingness to celebrate.

Thursday night was food truck night at the Fairplex again, but there were fewer there this time, so the lines were longer. I ended up going to one of the trucks with the shortest lines due to being famished, but the food was forgettable again. It was my choice.

Yesterday was my D&D 5th Edition game; most folks weren't available, so those who attended didn't press to do anything too difficult with so many of the characters not involved. It was still fun, especially when the mages got involved in a bar room brawl with a halfling thief, and nearly every swing failed to connect. Some kind of comedy! Nice day.

We shall see what this day brings. Have a good week!
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This week's reading I handled in a slightly odd way; whenever I finished a chapter in one particular book I'm still reading, I then read an Osprey book through. This lead to a lot of books finished though total pages aren't quite so impressive.

Anyway, the first one I got done was Osprey Weapon #23: The M1903 Springfield Rifle which taught me a bit about a weapon of which I knew nothing. There's going to be a lot of the Weapon series in a row here, BTW, because they've been piling up and I wanted to get through them.

Next was Osprey Weapon #29: US Combat Shotguns. Somewhere, somehow, I got the impression that shotguns were against the laws of war, but clearly they got a lot of use, starting with trench-clearing weapons in WWI to the Vietnam War and beyond, wherever it appears that US forces might be engaged in short range, closed in combat.

Then I finished Osprey Weapon #31: MP 38 and MP 40 Submachine Guns, the iconic weapon that is nearly always evident in WWII movies. Production of this was outpaced by the Sten, the Tommygun, and the following book which I read:

Osprey Weapon #33: Soviet Submachine Guns of World War II which discusses the weapons that they produced, used, and exported after the war. Interesting.

Next was Osprey Weapon #34: The Lewis Gun, the British light machine gun in use from WWI through II and beyond.

Then, Osprey Weapon #35: The MP5 Submachine Gun, leaping forward into the modern era and the chosen combat weapon of anti-terrorist units in the present.

Next was the book Osprey Weapon #37: The M14 Battle Rifle. I once had a friend who fought in Vietnam who swore by this weapon and could never get over being handed an M16 when he got overseas. The book spends some time on this controversy, which I found therefore interesting to read.

Following that was Osprey Weapon #38: The Hand Grenade, a modern weapon that goes way back, and one which has several variants, not all of which are anti-personnel. I found this book particularly interesting.

Then it was Vesuvius by Night by Lindsey Davis, a shorter piece which describes the life in Pompeii just prior to and during the eruption of the volcano. Chilling piece of work.

Then breaking free of the Osprey Weapon series for a bit, I read Osprey Campaign #47: Yorktown 1781: The World Turned Upside Down, getting a bit of background on the ground and naval maneuvers which led to the British defeat.

What a week!
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This whole week has been strange what with a day off in the middle for Independence Day. Then the next day was fretful when my beloved wife was riding a horse who tripped and fell on her; next thing you know she's in a splint and very uncomfortable.

On the good side, we had a wonderful dinner with the Phillipses at a restaurant that we've long enjoyed in Claremont. Excellent food and conversation made for a nice evening.

I did work yesterday; since my new job I've worked a total of two Saturdays and no Sundays. Amazing...

Today we'll visit my sister and her family in honor of my nephew who has graduated from the University of California, or as most of the state says: Berkeley. He's soon to start a job in San Francisco and I wish him the very best (even if he never reads this).

One thing that has kept us amused is the antics that the two kittens get themselves up to. Both of them appear to like us very much which is pleasant, and something of a change. Even when we don't share the room with them, we can hear them thundering around chasing each other. I know, it's an exciting life.

And on to the new week...
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This week's reading has a bit more variety to it.

The first book that I finished was Tanya Huff's The Truth of Valor in which the protagonist hunts down space pirates to recapture her kidnapped companion. I have to say that this isn't the best of this particular series though it's quite readable.

Next one was Osprey Warrior #77: French Soldier in Egypt 1798 – 1801, the army that Napoleon abandoned to its fate. Solid information about something of a sidelight in the Napoleonic Wars.

Then I finished up Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E., a graphic novel by Warren Ellis which must have been intended as a parody of superhero comics. I'd call this one a lesser read; I like most of Ellis' works better than this one.

Next was Osprey Warrior #78: US Army Tank Crewman 1941 – 45: European Theater of Operations 1944 – 45 which for this series was a bit unusual in that instead of describing the warrior and his milieu in general, this author looked at one specific tank officer and his units and followed them through training to the end of the war. Not exactly what I'd expect from this series. Not bad, not great, slightly odd.

Then I finished reading a book on my iPhone, And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails which for the subject matter was an interesting read. I found that it gave me insight into aspects of rum that I hadn't previously been aware of. Worth a read, if you tipple that particular poison.

Next was Osprey Weapon #11: The Beretta M9 Pistol, the handgun adopted by the US military when they finally set aside the .45 Automatic. The book appears to do a good job of discussing the overall controversies of this weapon's adoption.

Finally, there was Osprey Weapon #20: The M60 Machine Gun which goes into some detail about the development of American machine guns before dealing with the specifics of this one. Pretty solid.

And there's the lot. More when I have time to post...
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Looking back on the last two weeks my mind is a blur. We had a lot of fun with a number of activities but what happened when is no longer clear to me.

Oh well.

I'm pretty sure I should start with the season's finale at Dungeonmaster. Folks had fun with it; there were a lot of funny bits. I'll let you all know when we've set next season's opening date probably in September.

The next thing that sticks in my mind was driving into Studio City to spend some time with our friend David Woolley who lives in Chicagoland. We haven't seen him in years, though we keep some contact through FaceBook. He teaches at Columbia College, and a number of his former students turned up to enjoy his company. We finally met his wife, and it turned out that the creator of Dungeonmaster also was there, Bruce A. Young. We had a terrific time chatting, meeting people, and telling each other stories about Chicago.

A couple of nights later was Mike's birthday and we celebrated again in Studio City at the Residual's Bar on Ventura Boulevard. Clearly, the birthday boy was enjoying himself, and we had a good time chatting with folks and knocking back a drink or two.

That weekend we spent some quality time on cleaning up the kitchen cabinets, dumping food that was past its prime and looking at kitchen utensils that we've never used and either placing them aside for sharing with interested folks, or throwing them out. In addition, we culled some bottles from our liquor; several were dumped completely, a few need to be gifted out to someone who wants them, and the rest were repositioned where they are more easily accessible. In the end, our cupboards are much cleaner and we can now see what we have on hand.

End of the weekend, we went to the Claremont Flappers, a comedy club we've never tried, to see a selection of comedians. The entry fee wasn't bad, but the service and the food was, and much too overpriced. Only two of the comedians were funny, thankfully the best was saved for last so we didn't leave feeling completely gypped.

Last week one of the front yard fruit trees that we planted this last spring gave us the first of its peaches. Small, but utterly delicious! The tree is heavy with fruit, so there'll be more to eat and soon!

Wednesday night last we invited over the Greens for dinner with good food and conversation. We moved from the dinner table to the backyard and the old couch back to the dinner table where the cat managed to spill a glass of ice water into my lap, capping off the night. We discovered later that the beagle had stolen the last of the bread which led to a very pudgy dog.

At this time of year, every Thursday night at Gate 1 of the Fairplex, where the NHRA has their museum, they have a food truck event, and we generally go. A couple of weeks ago, the theme for us was lobster, while this last Thursday we took the daughter of a friend with us, and had quite a variety of flavors. Wonderful!

My beloved spouse wanted to see the movie Beatriz at Dinner with Salma Hayek, a fairly difficult film to describe. Hmm. How about "immigrant woman ends up at dinner with members of the 1%"? It was kind of hard to watch as they clashed; we were rooting for Ms Hayek.

I'm sure there's more to the week that I've forgotten; clearly a lot of my attention was on work as there's been some administrative duties that I've had on my plate. But it's been a good spell overall.

Have a good week!
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What with one thing or another last weekend I didn't have time to post, so here's two weeks' worth:

First one was Osprey Warrior #31: Union Infantryman 1861 – 65. Now I have mentioned before my antipathy to deeply studying the US Civil War, though I do still dabble with books on it occasionally, and this one does a solid job of helping a person visualize what it was like fighting for the Union in that war.

Next was Osprey Campaign #45: Majuba 1881: The Hill of Destiny, the major campaign of the Boer War. Not as engaging a read as I might have hoped for, but pretty good.

I followed that with Osprey Elite #13: US Army Rangers and LRRP Units 1942 - 87; this one I found especially interesting because when I was in osteopathic school, one of my family practice instructors had served in a LRRP unit during the Vietnam War. I learned a fair amount reading this book.

Then, Osprey Fortress #68: American Civil War Fortifications (3): The Mississippi and River Forts. Here we go again with the Civil War. Control of the flow of trade on the Mississippi River was critical for both sides, but in the end it was the Union who held it. Spoiler.

Next book then was Osprey Men-At-Arms #66: Montgomery's Desert Army. I've been a student of the history of WWII for much of my life, and so because over the years I've read so much about the North African campaigns that the data in this book didn't teach me all that much, still it was a pretty good overview of the many nations involved on the Allied side.

Following that was Osprey New Vanguard #35: M26/M46 Pershing Tank 1943 – 53. This is the tank that you see in many of the movies of the post-war period. Truly too late to be a major player in WWII, but had its place in Korea and thereafter. Pretty much gone by Vietnam.

Osprey Vanguard #27: Armour of the Korean War 1950 - 53 came next, showcasing the same Pershing tank with a few others. The whole Vanguard series is out-of-print having been superseded by the New Vanguard series, and in a way this book isn't as good as the one just above, but it does look at the topic more specifically (i.e. just the one war) and then again more generally (i.e. everybody's tanks that were involved). A different way of looking at it.

Next one was Osprey Warrior #52: US Naval Aviator 1941 – 45, the details about these key and critical warriors of the Pacific War in specific. A good one.

Then, and finally in this post, was Osprey Warrior #73: Tito's Partisans 1941 – 45. In my readings in the past, Tito's effect on the war was usually acknowledged; this book details what it was like for the men who followed him. Very good.

Yes, it's a lot of Ospreys. I know. I'm slogging through several novels and other non-fiction works at the same time, but the Ospreys are relatively short, and easy to get through. I suspect next post will cover some other genres entirely.
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There's been a lot of meetings at work which limited the socializing that I was able to do in the last week. Still, it's not been a bad week.

Most of the fun took place yesterday. We got snarled in traffic early while driving out to the edge of the Earth to pick up an inexpensive sewing machine, soon to be passed on to the daughter of a friend. We followed that by taking Brushette to the veterinarian for an external ear infection. Moving on to the next venue, we had lunch on a patio where they let in dogs. Then off to Danza del Sol Winery to pick up/out this quarter's wine club choices. From there, back home: since I did the wine tasting as the non-driver, I dozed the whole drive home.

Very pleasant day.

Today is the Guardian Trials at Dungeonmaster, so I hope we'll see you all there!

Oh, and happy Fathers Day! Best to all my friends who are fathers, and prayers to my father who I miss with all my heart.
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This week's reading remains a bit less than previous, but it was enjoyable for the most part.

First was a graphic novel/non-fiction piece called Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D. It deals with the invention of, and the subsequent battles over the game Dungeons & Dragons in a comic book style. Not bad at all.

The next book I finished reading was Earth, Air, Fire and Custard, a comic fantasy novel by the British author Tom Holt. This carries forward from the previous couple of novels about the magical corporation in Britain in a rather strange and somewhat offputting fashion. For me the book was a bit of a hard slog compared to other novels this gentleman has written. I'll be picking up and starting another of his novels moderately soon, but if it's this hard to get into, I may dump it quickly.

Finally, Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey was recommended to me years ago; the tale of a wizard who'd been transported to Hell alive and managed to return for his vengeance. Fast and fun read. There's several more books in this saga and I'll be looking to read the second one soon.

Have a good week!
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It's been so long since I last posted, I'm sure to miss out on some critical things that we did. I'll try to peg them all, but I'm not hopeful that my memory will manage here.

Anyway...

The Monday of Memorial Day we spent the evening at the Ground Control Anniversary event at Union, so that was pretty delightful. We hung with a few folks, sang at a distance (not on stage), and came home happy.

The next evening was a delightful dinner with the Axelsens. Good food, and good conversation.

Later in the week we had the opportunity to go to an early showing of Wonder Woman, a film that we really enjoyed. I urge anyone who hasn't gone yet to get out there and see it!

That Friday night we went out with a couple that we've newly met, the owners of the equestrian center where Bridget has been enjoying some horse camaraderie. Once again we had a wonderful time, with tasty food and interesting talk.

Sunday was the get-together with my sister Laurel for her birthday, and she wanted a stroll through the Huntington Library, and lunch there. It was a lovely day, and we spent time in a variety of the gardens as well as seeing a display of materials from the author Octavia Butler. I put in several miles of walking there...

Last Thursday night we got out to do the weekly food truck event at Gate One of the Fairplex. I had a delicious lobster roll, followed by a dessert crepe from a different truck. It's a beautiful setting with plenty of parking.

I had to work Saturday, but when I got home our friends the Archers showed up to take us to a restaurant called Neptunes in Artesia; the food once again was very good. Following that, we went to a horse auction where my wife was disappointed that the prices were a bit on the ridiculous side.

Next Sunday is a Guardian episode at Dungeonmaster, and I encourage you to join us!
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I was too busy last weekend to find time to post, and the weekdays just slip away, so let's try to catch up today...

A while back, a friend posted a recommendation for a graphic novel which I managed to scare up, called Orc Stain set in a world overrun by orcs. I found it fairly amusing and a quick read.

After that, I finished reading Osprey Fortress #27: French Fortresses in North America 1535 – 1763: Quebec, Montreal, Louisbourg and New Orleans. Now, my education as a child in Wisconsin mostly taught me that the colonization of North America by Europeans was done by the work of the English, with a bit of Spanish influence as well. Somehow they never really discussed the French all that much. This book reminds me of how extensive the French presence really was. Pretty good.

Next, I read Osprey Men-At-Arms #65: The Royal Navy 1790 – 1970 which honestly is too big a bite to reasonably chew in this small format. Not the best Osprey that I've ever read.

Then I started to catch up on the Lewrie series of books by finishing A Hard, Cruel Shore, another Napoleonic sea story. Not as exciting as some of the earlier books, but the protagonist is working his way up the Navy List and is no longer in frigates. Apparently the new book of the series was released Tuesday, so I'm only a little behind. I will continue to read these, though I'm not sure where the author is going with it (which might be a good thing...).

Finally I finished reading Osprey New Vanguard #34: Sturmartillerie & Panzerjager 1939 – 45. If you don't read German, basically the book deals with German assault guns (essentially tanks that gave direct support to the infantry) and tank destroyers (tanks that are defensive in nature, heavily armed but not particularly agile). In truth I found the book really clarified this whole topic for me, so this is a good one!
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I felt weird most of this week; I think much of that is due to having had to have a root canal early in the week and because of my intense gag reflex, I was forced to be put under anesthesia. It was done very professionally, but I still have to go back for a crown.

I shared a really good comedy piece via Netflix streaming called Homecoming King by Hasan Minaj, a correspondent for The Daily Show. It's a brilliant piece of work of standup that was very personal and topical about the immigrant experience in the last few decades. Well worth seeing.

We also finished watching the first season of Homeland via Netflix disc. I'm really not sure how I feel about the season, but we'll be starting season two soon.

I also dabble a bit with Amazon Prime. Originally I downloaded a number of video files to my iPad, but it appears that Prime only allows you a certain amount of time to see those files before they delete themselves. I blew through several shows that I didn't find as interesting as I had hoped; I also watched some episodes of a show about people restoring armored vehicles of historic interest. I also touched on Fortitude and The Man in the High Castle but I'm not sure if I'll continue them.

Yesterday we went to the Norco Equestrian Academy where Bridget has been getting some horse refreshers because they were having a trail ride with a light lunch. I helped set up the lunch at a park up in the Norco hills with one of the owners of the Academy and then helped again with takedown. Afterwards, I had a chance to bit of walking down memory lane, in that when I was a child occasionally on Sundays after Suncay school we would drive twenty miles north to Milwaukee to have a late lunch at Bob's Big Boy. Well, there's one in Norco, one of only five left in California apparently, and so I had myself a hamburger just like I would have fifty years ago. The major difference was that the Big Boy statue outside was wearing a cowboy hat (or course, in Norco). A few more adventures one way or another thereupon ensued, ending in play with the new kitten.

Today is Memorial Day. I find myself recalling the Veterans who I've known as friends, and who I've treated as patients who served their country in ways civilians can hardly understand. To those who lost their lives, thanks are hardly enough, but from me, you have them.
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Another week where I finished only a couple of books.

First was Osprey Warrior #69: Darby's Rangers 1942 – 45, essentially a WWII unit of some fame. Not bad, not great.

Second was Osprey Elite #4: US Army Special Forces 1952 – 84 which is a history of the decisions that led to the formation of our nation's various special forces and their use in the period described, which means mostly Vietnam. Not a bad overview.
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At the request of our friend Katie, who visited this weekend, I'm going to discuss the podcasts that I've been following for the last few years. She is curious about what I've been hearing and why I like them.

For starters, long before I owned a smart phone I followed the Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast; I had first seen them at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Southern California many years ago, and when I found out about the weekly release I would listen to it each Monday. The topics are for the most part theater-related, though not always. There's over 500 recordings, approximately fifteen minutes each.

What finally brought me to using the smart phone was a two-fold issue. First, Alton Brown started a podcast, which later became rather intermittent; secondly, KPCC which is my local NPR station began having what seemed to me to be constant money requests which led to me rarely hearing the news but instead nothing but begging on the radio, so I started hunting for other podcasts to listen to. Brown's work was called The Alton Browncast. It deals to a great degree with cooking, touching on other topics in a lesser fashion. He seems to go back to it when his schedule opens up a bit.

When I started looking for podcasts to try, nearly everyone had nothing but good things to say about The History of Rome podcast, and so I gave it a try. I've long since finished the whole run from the mythology of the city's start until the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 400s. The quality is excellent, the podcaster is engaging and it's well worth giving it a listen. He's since started the Revolutions podcast in which he deals in detail with a variety of revolutions which so far include the American, the French, the Haitian, the South American, the French in the 1830s, and the Belgian. Excellent work, once again.

From there I added the Global News Podcast by the BBC, updated thirteen times each week, it addresses the news of the day.

Next one is The History of Byzantium; its originator wanted to pick up where The History of Rome left off but dealing with the remaining Eastern Empire and he's doing a good job of it.

The British History Podcast goes into a lot of detail; there's been nearly 250 items and he's still in the Dark Ages.

Then there's The History of WWII Podcast. I'm not fond of the caster's voice, but he gives good quality reports. He's a bit shy of 200 casts but the US still isn't in the war. Not too much longer, though.

Then I picked up Mission Long: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast which has two guys discussing each episode or movie of Star Trek and seeing if they hold up to time. They are in the 230s of podcasts and are closing in on the end of ST:TNG. They include some special podcasts where they interview a variety of individuals who were important to the show. I've tried a number of Star Trek podcasts over time, and I like this one best.

The China History Podcast is done by a guy who works with companies who work in China; he's learned the language and clearly he's fascinated by the country. He's shy of 200 episodes but he deals in pretty good detail with the subject at hand.

Then there's The History of English Podcast which helps explain how English got the way it is. He's barely into Middle English in over 90 episodes.

History of Japan is next. Shy of 200 episodes, he clearly explains a lot about Japanese history and culture.

My wife hates the voice of the reader of History of the Crusades, but she does a good job of explaining the events and background. She's finished the Crusades in the Holy Land as well as the Albigensian Crusade and is now working on the Baltic.

History of Pirates Podcast is rather intermittent and he jumps around. Some fun, not as deep as I might like.

The Born Yesterday Podcast appears to be defunct though it's still available without trouble from iTunes and it deals with a pretty wide variety of interesting topics, such as the Secret History of Monopoly (as in the game).

WARTIME: A History Series is done by an author, mostly to stimulate sales of his writings, but he has interesting things to say about empires and he covers areas that my own learning didn't cover well. Although not recently updated, I know that the cast isn't dead.

Aussie Waves Podcast started talking about the various waves of immigration into Australia, but it's turned into a cast about various topics in Australian history and the caster is pretty good.

The History of England's reader has a puckish sense of humor and he keeps the discussion light and accessible. He's up to Henry VIII in 214 episodes so far.

The Podcast History Of Our World tried to start in the very beginning of our planet and carry forward from there but there's been no additional podcasts for over six months; he left off at the Kingdom of Rome, which predated the Republic.

Gamers Behaving Badly appears to be dead; it was a fairly funny work which followed a D&D game.

The Podcast of Doom is a strange piece of work in which the caster deals with disaster analysis; the history of an event, what went wrong and what's been done since to try to deal with it. A very good podcast; he posts occasionally.

A Brief History of Food seems gone as well, short pieces of background for various recipes.

The Hidden History of Los Angeles posts occasionally but when they do it's very good. Intimate little details about LA, its history, and its neighborhoods.

Damn Interesting is. They don't post all that often but when they do it's good.

Imaginary Worlds goes into some detail about exactly that. For example, the most recent post talks in some detail about Twin Peaks from the point of view of the folks who lived in the town used in the original show, as well as the history of some folks in a town called Twin Peaks and its parallels to the show. As a first-class geek I find this podcast delightful.

Then there's another moribund podcast, In the Company of Nerds, which spun off the TV show King of the Nerds. They would have two folks interviewing a third; it was pretty solid, but when the TV series was cut, the podcast fell apart.

Talking History: The Italian Unification worked it way practically up to the point of the final events and then stopped cold. Apparently the casters were swamped by life. It may come back. Their style was mildly off-putting but the information was fresh and interesting.

You Must Remember This is one of the best podcasts I listen to. The caster is taking several weeks hiatus at this time, but will be back. The podcast deals with the history of the first century of Hollywood and she doesn't hold back on the details. Terrific work, that's all I can say.

Our Fake History is also very good, though not quite as good as the previously described podcast. The topic is what is and isn't true in history and the caster deals with telling what we know and what we don't. Very good.

Killing Time is a military history podcast, but it's been three months since the last post so it may be gone. Still, the thirteen casts posted are pretty good.

The Dork Forest is pretty variable in quality. The interviewer is a stand-up comic and she spends a fair amount of time pushing her wares, then she takes about an hour to talk to various people about their various hobbies in various levels of dorkiness. I find myself cutting out casts that deal with hobbies in which I have no interest, seems to be like two out of three that I dump. However, when the topic interests me, she's not bad as an interviewer. YMMV.

Valiant: Stories of Heroes is pretty limited; there's only a couple of "heroes" discussed. They weren't bad but there isn't much here. Last posting was a year ago, I think it's dead.

99% Invisible is another wonderful podcast which in this case deals with design and what goes into it. There's way over 200 casts and they do a great job of explaining what goes into design. Marvelous stuff!

The Context was also a very good piece of work, giving all the background that you never get from news sources because it takes too long to explain it all. There's eight of them, last posted March of 2016, and worth hearing. I keep hoping for more.

Great Battles of History is another short-lived podcast that appears to be gone. However, the handful or so of podcasts talk about little-known battles and did a fairly good job of discussing them.

The History of Exploration is a pretty new podcast and it's going into the folks who have explored the world around them, what they did and how they passed it on. Heavily detailed.

The Secret Cabinet is done by a translator who gets these from the original German and then posts oddities. Strange history.

The Brazil Culture and History Podcast presents Brazil, a topic that most US classrooms never address. There's a dozen posts, but it's been a year plus since the last post. I really thought that I'd learned some things from them, so I hope it will return.

Revisionist History is another one that I await patiently, though it may be gone. It looks at various topics in history in a different way and I find it very thought-provoking. Bravo!

People's Democratic Republic of Podcast is a spin-off from a podcast called The Eastern Border which I liked but it runs very, very long and I didn't like it enough to invest that may hours in it. The latter podcast teaches about Russian and Soviet history as well as Eastern Europe especially in the effects that Russia had on the other countries of the region. The former podcast is supposed to look at an individual democratic nation and see how they work. Thus far they've discussed Israel and Canada and that is all. I await further developments.

The Land of Desire: French History and Culture is a fairly lighthearted podcast which has dabbled in French topics. I think the caster has been taking the pieces and giving them the proper amount of time and I think I've learned things from it. This is an active podcast at present.

A History of Oil seems moribund; it goes into the politics and business history of oil's discovery and use. I found some of the casts thoughtful and useful in understanding what is going on now.

The Sorting Podcast is a light romp done by a friend in which he sorts characters from one genre into Hogwarts Houses in discussion with another person. Fun; it's nice to revisit some characters from literature and motion pictures and work out where they would fit.

The History of Organized Crime...not bad enough to dump, not good enough to recommend.

Remarkable Lives, Tragic Deaths is active and they bring in voice actors to stand in for the famous folks that they are discussing. Solid work, worthy of listening.

Cocktail History Podcast hasn't had anything posted for four months; they deal with the background of various drinks. I like it, but it may be gone.

Africa: A History is pretty straightforward, but it's been offline for six months. Only a few casts posted.

Gastropod is very good, and remains active. They go into the science of food in some detail. Excellent stuff.

Slate Presents Lexicon Valley, I'm way behind on them but they go into the background of words and grammar. I like it; they are still active but I'm still more than fifty casts behind the present.

Wait, wait...Don't Tell Me isn't so much a podcast as it is the radio show being re-released. This is an NPR gameshow that I used to hear when I drove to work on weekends.

The Sporkful advertises itself as a podcast not for foodies but for eaters. Well, I think it's fair to say I'm a foodie, but I still like this podcast. Still active.

80 Days: An Exploration Podcast has three Irish fellows Skypeing from three places on Earth discussing a country, city, island or whatever that people might now know much about and going into their history and what have you. Each post thus far is over an hour, but some of these places deserve a closer look. I like 'em.

Shots of History is for those who imbibe. I'm still behind, but they've spent several very short podcasts on absinthe.

Decode the News is very new and very, very good, breaking down the news to see what they are and aren't doing and what journalism has become. Recommended.

I am presently listening to the first podcast of The Dangerous History Podcast and I don't know if I would suggest following it. I need more exposure first.

I have downloaded podcasts from each of the following but have yet to listen to any of them and can't recommend or reject them: Ben Franklin's World: A Podcast About Early American History; Libertarian's On Fire; The Whiskey Rebellion; The Feast; The Complete Guide to Everything; Judge John Hodgman; History of Southeast Asia.

I have listened to many more podcasts; some have clearly died and I dropped them from my list even though they were fine, while others I tried for one or three or twenty episodes and finally gave them up.

I am open to trying others as time permits; I still keep up with active casts. Please feel free to suggest others to me and why you think they're good.

There you go, Katie!
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
What was interesting about this week?

We watched XXX: The Return of Xander Cage. Not nearly as good as any of the previous movies of this series, but my wife liked it more than I did.

Bits and pieces got done in and around the house. We had a house guest in this weekend, so there was work done on prepping the room for her.

After the demise of Sven, the red cat, who lost a fight in the worst possible way, my beloved was unhappy, but she's brightened up after adopting a new kitten who we call Earl Grey. He's definitely a boy so no gender errors in naming (I'm looking at YOU, Loralie...).

In reflection of the latter event, the Archers came over once their daughter saw photos of the kitten on FB. We split a couple of bottles of wine amongst the adults while Shelby communed with Earl. Lovely time.

Dungeonmaster today; see you there!
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From a reading standpoint this wasn't one of my better weeks. I kept pretty busy at work and at home and I just didn't finish all that much.

That being said, I did finish reading Osprey Warrior #63: French Revolutionary Infantryman 1791 – 1802. The book is basically about the French innovation of mass conscriptions which allowed them to protect the Revolution. Moderately interesting.

The other book that I finished was Osprey Warrior #65: US Army Ranger 1983 – 2002: Sua Sponte – Of their Own Accord, the details about the training and use of the Rangers in that period. Fairly good.

I also dumped several books that I wasn't enjoying, but I'm no longer discussing those...
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Following the Carnivore's Feast we slowly cleaned up as well as finishing doing a few of the things we'd hoped to get done in advance of the party. I've pulled down the torn umbrella and swapped it out for a spare, for example. The dishes are done, the house is livable.

Since then we've seen Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume Two in the theater (fun; don't overthink it), had a few meals out, and recovered.

I spent several days in Las Vegas for medical education; the first few days without my spouse, but the latter few with. Before she joined me, I went out to see Penn & Teller at the Rio; reasonably fun show that. I also found a Chicago chain restaurant near my hotel, and Cliff joined me so we could have a stuffed pizza for dinner; very nice...Giordano's. Now I've eaten at the chain in Florida and Nevada. I wonder if they've hit SoCal yet? I watched a fair amount of Amazon Prime shows, too. The course was solid, and I learned plenty.

When Bridget joined me, we went to a pho place that Tina, a friend, had highlighted on her FaceBook, called District One. Since they had pho with a whole lobster as well as pho with bone marrow, my wife and I had to try it, and Cliff joined us there again. Yummy! Follow that with dessert in the same strip mall at a place called Snow White and it's all Tina-themed!

On the Saturday night the two of us went to see a Cirque d'Soleil show (did I spell that right???) at the Bellagio called O, which was spectacular...it involves a pool onstage! I can honestly say that there hasn't been a Cirque show yet that I haven't enjoyed.

Sunday morning we had brunch at a cafe at the Paris casino/hotel, and then headed back home. It took forty minutes just to get out of the parking lot! There were traffic jams at several points, but we missed one by my wife's brilliant attention where we crossed a portion of desert to get from I-15 to I-40 to get into Barstow. It worked out quite well.

I had meant to take a couple of Netflix discs with me to the hotel that I thought my wife wouldn't have any interest in, so this weekend I tried to watch The Dungeon Masters, a documentary which was horrible and which I dumped maybe fifteen minutes into, and then I did watch another documentary called Reclaiming the Blade which talks about fighting styles of the sword and the resurgence of people's interest in the subject. Cool work.

And so into the week we go...
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This is about two weeks' worth because I didn't have Internet access for a couple of days last weekend. I was out of town, which led to me having more reading time.

First finished book or story or whatever was Faster Gun by Elizabeth Bear, something of a time travel story with aliens in the Wild West. Eh, I'm not that fond of time travel stuff so it didn't amuse me as much as I'd hoped for.

Next was Osprey Men-At-Arms #62: The Boer War, once again an older book of this series and thus with lesser quality plates. It does do a fair job of setting the political stage.

Then, Andorra the Hidden Republic, a rather old book (pre-World War I, I think) that I downloaded from the Internet Archive which deals partially with the history of this tiny country in the Pyrenees, and partially with the travels of this American that included visiting the place. Moderately interesting especially as I've been listening to a podcast about the Albigensian Crusade which took place not far from there.

Follow that with The Monarch of the Glen, something of a retelling by Neil Gaiman of the Beowulf saga using characters from American Gods. Short piece. Good work.

Then, Osprey New Vanguard #33: M3 & M5 Stuart Light Tank 1940 – 45, not the best-designed piece of work an American has ever done.

Next then was The Key to the Coward's Spell by Alex Bledsoe, a short story piece from his Eddie LaCrosse series (I'm not sure about the spelling). Hired to find a lost boy, it deals with trafficking in children in a magical realm/fantasy world. I've liked this series and I hope the author writes more novels in it.

Then I read Osprey Raid #34: Oldest Allies: Alcantara 1809 which discusses the British and Portuguese alliance in the Napoleonic Wars and the raids that knocked the French back from Portugal during the Peninsular Campaign. Pretty solid writing.

Next, Fool by Christopher Moore, something of a retelling of King Lear in a comedic way. Very good read.

I followed that with Osprey Vanguard #38: Mechanised Infantry which gives a general talk about how the infantry supporting tank units are brought to the front in a combined arms fashion.

Then there was Dr. Blink Superhero Shrink: Id. Ego. Superego!, not so much a graphic novel as a collection of pieces dealing with a world full of superheroes who need counseling help as much as the next guy.

Next was Vulture Peak by John Burdett, the fifth mystery novel by this author set in the Bangkok police service. It deals with organ selling on the black market.

Finally I can report finishing Osprey Warrior #60: Sharpshooters of the Civil War. As I've said before, Civil War history is hard for me to read because of my own failure to accept emotionally that the US could have broken apart. Even given my prejudices, I found this book to be a good read, addressing a number of issues leading to the formation of these units on both sides of the conflict.

Whew!
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I tried, I really tried, but I couldn't get into the book I was asked to read. I'll have to send a report to the author, and I'm embarrassed about it.

Anyway, here's two weeks of reading other books that I actually finished. Let's start with Osprey Vanguard #33: German Light Panzers 1932 - 42, an older book on the subject which was reasonably good reading. Follow that with Osprey Vanguard #37: Modern Soviet Combat Tanks, modern for the date of publication, somehow it didn't quite gel for me.

Later I read Osprey Campaign #44: Pavia 1525: The Climax of the Italian Wars, not as interesting as I'd hoped for; then The Complete Tales from the Con, not really a graphic novel but a collection of funny drawings about typical events, heavily exaggerated, at comic conventions. If you're a fan, it's a fun read.

Then there was Osprey Elite #57: The Royal Marines 1939 – 93 which I found to be a solid read about the regiment's relatively recent activities. Follow that with The Hogwarts Collection Volumes 1 – 3, a bunch of quick writings which go into more details about the backgrounds of a number of characters as well as other bits of history from the Harry Potter series. Eh.

Finally I finished reading another Osprey, this one being Osprey Fortress #62: Soviet Field Fortifications 1941 – 45. The detail in this one was pretty fascinating.

Whew...
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The last few weeks are a complete blur in my mind. We were doing a vast number of things in preparation for yesterday's event at our home, and not completing everything that we were trying to do. The fruit trees are in, the yard is prepped, the new couch is in the den, and the old one is out in the yard for comfy seating, cooking has been and gone. Cleanup? Well, there's still a couple of hours worth of work to do with that, to be honest. Duck bones are being made into stock for the upcoming year...

Somewhere in the mess we watched a couple of Netflix discs: Trumbo which was a good film; also Passengers which was pretty stupid.

Friday night two friends of ours, Stacy from San Jose and Tom from a Chicago suburb flew in to join us for the next day's festivities. They were both instrumental in getting the final polish on our yard/house for the event.

Yesterday we were a bit worried because we were having a wind storm the evening before and in the morning and we were having trouble setting up for Carnivore's Feast. The winds died down pretty much just as we started having folks arrive and so though the temperatures were higher than they've been the last few years, all-in-all our festival turned out fun. Turn-out was the lowest its been for some years but I'm not disappointed in that it meant that each individual got more of my attention and I wasn't forced to cook the whole time. Lovely party, and I'm glad that we had so many friends new and old who could attend.

Today then will be devoted to cleaning and recovery. Heavy on the recovery.
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And I somehow managed to miss commenting on another read from last week...embarrassing. Anyway, it was Osprey Vanguard #31: US Half-Tracks of World War II, a book that I found fascinating. I've always been intrigued by half-tracks since before I knew anything at all about history; I think I had a toy half-track before I had a toy truck as a kid. This was a good work on the US version with all its good and bad points.

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July 2017

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