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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!
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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 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.

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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.

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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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The activities of the last week are something of a blur, mentally. I know much of what we did but the timeline in my head is a bit messed up.

Let's start with last weekend.

We were supposed to join the family for an early Seder just before Passover, but I was struck down by food poisoning and rather than let me be a hero and tough it out, driving over an hour to my sister's place, my beloved called her up and cancelled. Honestly, she was right; had I gone I doubt that I would have had the energy the next day to go to work. It turned out that I was better (let's not say "fine") the next day probably because I rested some and didn't try to be particularly stupid.

Monday night the Archers had a small Seder which we attended and it was lovely. However, something that I ate there must have be imbued with the essence of caffeine because I couldn't fall asleep until after 3AM which led to my zombification at work the next day...

I think it was Wednesday night when we helped move some lawn furniture that someone we knew was never going to use again to the new home of another friend. Following that we worked our way across the LA area looking for a place to park/eat, and found ourselves in the end at Osteria Mozza. They had good martinis, and my chosen dishes were pretty good, especially the duck, while Bridget wasn't quite as happy with some of her choices. Honestly, though, her lamb was fantastic!

Sometime during the week I finished watching via Netflix streaming season one of Samurai Gourmet which was mildly amusing in a cultural sense; last night we finished watching season three of Grace & Frankie on the same streaming service which deals pretty solidly with aging and a variety of other somewhat uncomfortable topics in a very engaging way. I think it's worth your time, if you haven't seen it.

Also in the last ten days or so I've spent a bit of time downloading videos from Amazon Prime onto my iPad and watching some of them, particularly Emeril's new show Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse. I think I have one episode left in the season; so far they've been pretty solidly good for cooking travelogues.

Preparations in our home for the upcoming event later this month continue. Yesterday a big job got finished in that the new couch replacing the decade-old one arrived. The new couch is now in place and it's very comfortable, beagle-approved. The old one has been moved into the backyard for more seating for our Feast, though it's going out to the curb (or will be donated to friends, if someone wants it) after the end of the month. I think that this weekend is going to be devoted to dealing with upstairs issues so that we have maneuvering room. I think we're also going on an expedition to one of our sources of exotic meats to get that out of the way in advance of the party. Busy, busy, busy.

How was your week?
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I hit the goal of the 50 Book Challenge for 2017 last week, but that doesn't stop me from continuing to read.

The first book that I finished for the previous week was Osprey New Vanguard #32: The Long Range Desert Group 1940 – 1945 which discusses the equipment of this raiding group that got its start in North Africa messing about with the supply lines and airfields in the rear of the Afrika Korps. I've read other books going all the way back to junior high school on this organization, so this detail about their gear was moderately interesting. What amused me even more was that I then read Osprey Raid #49: Stirling's Desert Triumph: The SAS Egyptian Airfield Raids 1942 which though it does give some background on the start of the SAS in North Africa, the book is mostly about the attacks on German air bases and little about the more boring of their duties. Not bad for topical consistency.

The following book was then You Suck by Christopher Moore. He continues the stories of vampires in San Francisco with several recurring characters from previous works and he makes it a pretty amusing read. I gather there's more to come in this vein (as it were). The next book of his that I'll get around to reading is The Fool though.

Then I read last night The Bill the Cat Story: A Bloom County Epic for Ages 4 – 33 and 36 – 89. If you ever read Bloom County, you'll know Bill the Cat; honestly this isn't all that much of an origin story but it was good for a chuckle or two.

I was asked by an acquaintance to read a manuscript by him and critique it, and I think that's going to tie me up reading-wise for at least a week so I don't expect to discuss much next week. I hope to find it a good read...
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Work on various things about the house continues in preparation for later this month's event. Beyond that, what's to say? One of two woodpiles has been cleared out; the other is pretty large but it's in an out-of-the-way spot so it can be left for now. It rained again overnight, thank goodness...
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Bits and pieces this week and so I hit the first goal.

First book finished was Osprey Campaign #42: Bagration 1944: The Destruction of Army Group Center, the battles that completely changed the strategic initiative on the Eastern Front in WWII. Nicely done in a fairly short format.

Next was Osprey Elite #54: UN Forces 1948 – 94, a good review of United Nations peacekeeping efforts during that period.

Then, Lamb: A Global History, in other words lamb as food. There's some recipes at the end of the book.

I followed that with Osprey Fortress #60: The Forts of the Meuse in World War I, which brought back memories of playing an old board game called 1914 by Avalon Hill. Interesting material.

Finally, Osprey Men-At-Arms #60: Scandinavian Armies in the Napoleonic Wars. Aside from what the British did to the Danes, I was unaware of most of this historic material so I found it pretty fascinating. The plates are meh, but the supporting text was worth reading.
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This was a very busy week. It included our 29th wedding anniversary and going out to a restaurant we've frequented many times over the years, me scurrying around to all of our clinics doing quarterly reviews, tearing apart our bedroom for some deep cleaning and furnishing changes, watching the ISS fly overhead one evening, having a couple of evening firepits to unwind. The deep cleaning is finished except for the steady return of items to their places after we've pared them down which I expect will take a few more days. The dogs and the male cats like the changes, our senior lady cat does not...
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
I didn't think I'd read so very much this week, but there it is...

The first book I finished was a Sociological thing called Jennifer Government by Max Barry, which deals with a world where corporations have extreme power, but governments' powers have become very limited. It's a weird way of looking at things and was handled pretty well.

Next was Osprey Elite #215: British Light Infantry & Rifle Tactics of the Napoleonic Wars. I expected to learn a bit from this book, especially in light of my love of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series of novels, and I did. One of the better Ospreys.

Then, Osprey New Vanguard #230: Imperial Roman Warships 27 BC – 193 AD, not quite as engaging as the previous book. Read it, not retaining much...

Finally I also read Osprey Fortress #86: English Castles 1200 - 1300. There's a lot of terrific photography of those castles that still stand, and there's a number of maps that lay out the structure of a number of others. Pretty fascinating.

On to the next week!
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
I'm closing in on my reading goal for the year.

First book this week was Pottermore Presents Hogwarts: An Incomplete & Unreliable Guide, a fairly silly bit of a book about the school in the Harry Potter series of books. Fun for someone who's read the series, useless for anyone else.

Next was Osprey Vanguard #29: The M47 & M48 Patton Tanks a very similar book to one that I've read in the past from their New Vanguard series, it discusses a 1960s state-of-the-art tank. I remember making a plastic model of this one, for what it's worth.

Lastly I read Osprey Vanguard #30: Polish Armour 1939 – 45. It discusses not only the tanks the Poles had on hand when they were invaded by Germany in 1939, but also the tanks that they later got from the Allies later. Portions of the book details how they managed to get out of Eastern Europe and join the fight on the Western Theater of Operations by getting through Iran. Wild! I found this one particularly interesting for that reason.

More later!
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
The weekend last weekend was especially busy.

Saturday afternoon we stopped by a party given to honor and give good wishes to Kira who is taking a job on the East Coast. It sounds like a real step up and a good job, so my wife and I wanted to show our support. Actually, we went to that party twice; first early to show our faces and then later after a show that we'd purchased tickets months in advance for.

See, Alton Brown, the food television personality and author has been doing live shows. We'd seen the first one of his last tour in Palm Desert several years ago and loved it. He has a new show that was at the Hollywood Pantages for two nights, and we had tickets for the second night, which was last Saturday. This interrupted our party-going... Anyway, the show was well-worth the ticket cost and well-worth hunting up if he's going to be in your area.

Back at the party a few hours later we had some great conversation and very much enjoyed the time with folks. I hope we'll be able to catch Kira if and when she makes a West Coast visit in the future.

Sometime during the week I took the opportunity to finish that Polish TV show, watching the DVD for With Fire and Sword 2. Meh.

We keep getting bits and pieces of work done on the yard and house for preparation for Carnivore's Feast. In addition, we've had a few evenings of hanging out restfully in the backyard using one at a time of the two newly constructed firepits, which has been very pleasant. One of them clearly is engineered to be the sort where folks hang around it and chat while the other is engineered to burn large and bright. Each has its place.

We had some folks over yesterday to run in my D&D world. As far as I can tell, everyone had a good time. Because of the impending party we'll be skipping a month and heading into May for the next one.
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
This week led to a lot of dabbling in movies and the like.

We open the week by popping out to the theater to see Logan a very mature superhero movie. I liked it very much; much more than most of the other films in this particular series.

The next night my beloved was feeling pretty ill and went to bed early so I stayed up and put on a disc called With Fire and Sword 1 a Polish TV series that deals with a mid-17th Century war between the Poles and the Cossacks in a very melodramatic fashion, reflecting what was happening on the international stage by what was happening in the love life of a Polish knight, Polish heiress, and Cossack lord. Not great, and I have my doubts about the translations on the screen. What's very weird is that they rattle on in Polish, then apparently has overdubbing in Russian, and then English subtitles. I may watch the last disc, but I'm in no rush.

The night before last my beloved had another meeting and so I put on via Netflix streaming the documentary about a documentary called Night Will Fall which discusses the making of a film at the end of WWII about the discovery of the concentration camps. At first just a British project, later they added materials from the US film teams and finally Soviet. In the end it took so long to piece together that the political situation had completely changed and the documentary was never released. The film uses portions of the original documentary that are appalling, so don't watch this if you're squeamish. If released now, it would be a slap in the face of Holocaust deniers.

Last night after we took the dogs on a long-delayed walk which they clearly appreciated on such a pleasant evening, I put on Harry and Snowman a lovely documentary about a Dutch resistance fighter who came to America after the war and became a horseman here who saved a horse from the knacker's wagon for a pittance who became a famed jumper in the 1950s. Very touching piece of work.

There's a lot to be done this weekend; we'll be driving all over the place today, and tomorrow we expect to be doing a bunch of yardwork both front and back.

Have a good week!


mycroftca: me on horse (Default)

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