Category Archives: Uncategorized

Conclave

Today’s photo is of three foster kittens holding a conclave. More accurately, two of them (Wellerman on the left, Tina on the right) having an important discussion about a piece of painter’s tape that was between them when they were interrupted by Shanty (center). It’s the sort of thing Shanty does. He’s very much an “in your face” kitty who demands attention and who wants to be in the middle of whatever is going on. So the important conclave regarding the piece of tape was interrupted by an interloper.

All three of these fosters — Wellerman, Shanty, and Tina — will be available for adoption soon from Happy Tails in Sacramento. Wellerman has Cerebellar Hypoplasia, which is a neurological condition, so he sort of wobbles when he walks. He’s definitely shyer than the other two, but he’s still a love. Tina’s shy as well, but Shanty is very friendly and loving.

Now, you may wonder where the kittens got their names. Or maybe you weren’t. I don’t know. But remember a few weeks ago when everyone was singing sea shanties? Yes, that one. Here’s the one I mean (I hesitate to share this video, because I know you’ve seen it before, but whatever):

Except, of course, this song has no mention of Tina, so her name was given to her before we got her.

Now, you may ask yourself, why is there no sea shanty about cats? Well, there is! Here you go!

Of course, when I think sea shanties, I can’t help thinking of the King of Sea Shanties. Yes, I’m talking about “Barrett’s Privateers”, performed here by Stan Rogers:

Fun fact: in the mid-1990s I had an online relationship (conducted entirely by email and telephone) with a woman from Halifax, Canada. At some point she made me a couple of mix tapes of purely Canadian music. There were a couple of Stan Rogers songs on those tapes, which is how I learned of his music.

I wonder whatever became of her.

Anyway. Yes. Cats. The picture above, of Wellerman, Shanty, and Tina is today’s Picture of the Day for Thingadailies. Enjoy!


Thingadailies!

Did I Mention…

…That I have a blog?

Here it is, and you’re reading it! I seem to have neglected it since August, which is five months, which is a long time. My last post, about our cat Nutmeg, was a sad one, and I’ve been reluctant to post since then for some reason.

 

…That I’m back in library school?

It’s true. I was originally going to library school — the MLIS program at San Jose State University, to be exact — back in the early years of this century, but I’m afraid I burned out and withdrew without notice in 2004. But I’m back now and enjoying it, feeling competent in my classes, and learning a lot. The more I study, the more convinced I am that this is a good fit for an intellectual vagabond like me who has a philosophical bent. I’m taking it nice and slow this time. The only weakness with my plan is that I may not become a librarian before I reach retirement age.

This book, Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World, is one of the books I’ll be reading for my current class, and I’m very much looking forward to it. For a previous course, I created a small website about the “digital divide”, a topic which is near and dear to my heart.

…That Daikaijuzine is back online?

Yep, my online magazine of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and poetry is back online after going into hiatus back in… uh… 2011. It’s back now, with some old friends behind the helm and some new ones as well. Quality fiction of all genres, and quality poetry from luminaries. We’re a (minimally) paying market, though we’re currently closed to submissions (we still have many, many to consider from last year). We are on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook so you can track us down at one of those fine venues.

…That I’m reasonably healthy?

It’s true! No migraines for quite awhile, no other major issues going on. Because of the pandemic, I’ve had very little contact with other people, and it’s been nearly eleven months since I stepped into my office of employment. As a result, I haven’t contracted any colds or bronchial infections for nearly a year. Sure, my allergies kick in from time to time, but that’s because I’m allergic to anything that moves o stands still, including cats. And speaking of cats, did I mention…

 

…That we’re fostering kittens and cats?

We foster kittens through Happy Tails, a local no-kill cage-free pet sanctuary that does wonderful work. We’ve been doing this, my wife and I, for nigh on to two years now, and we’ve had dozens of kittens and cats come through our home. There’s lots of love and laughter (kittens are cute and fun and full of energy and love!), and some heartbreak (sometimes they don’t make it past a few days), but it’s always rewarding.

 

…That there was a storm?

Yep, and it was a big ‘un. The wind blew off a huge branch from a tree in front of our house and landed on both our cars (see pictorial evidence below). Sadly, Jennifer’s car (the blue Prius on the left) was totaled, but we’re being compensated for it. My car (the red Prius on the right) will likely be in the shop for a couple of weeks.

 

And that’s all I got for now.

The Weirdness of Emergent Behaviors

800px-Whooping_Crane_in_flight_in_Texas
Whooping Crane in flight in Texas. USDA Photo by John Noll.

While listening to the February 17th episode of This Week in Science podcast, I learned that the whooping crane, Grus americana, which has been on the brink of extinction, was recently reintroduced to the wild in Louisiana, though their original habitat has changed. The birds are responding to this change, and thriving, by altering their appetite to include small reptiles and amphibians. Though their natural history isn’t entirely understood, it’s generally agreed that this is new behavior; it’s behavior that emerged after their habitat changed.

Or consider our cat Rosemary (gone but still in our hearts). She was a normal cat with no particular strange behaviors, until we acquired some small stuffed dragons, which she began to pick up in her mouth and carry around our house. She wasn’t nesting with them, because she didn’t gather them up in one single place; rather, she deposited them in random locations, upstairs and down, and sometimes on the stairs themselves. So this I’m also considering an “emergent behavior”, that is, an unexpected new behavior that emerges after a change in environment.

I suppose this isn’t technically emergent behavior, though. The term, I believe, actually comes from complexity theory and refers to a system which exhibits traits and behaviors that cannot necessarily be explained in terms of the parts. A single neuron, for example, is not at all capable of the higher thought processes that a brain, composed of millions of neurons, is capable of. Similarly, an individual ant is not capable of doing very much, but organize thousands of them into a colony and you get some very complex behaviors indeed (Douglas Hofstader, in his book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, even imagined that an ant colony that was capable of rational thought).

This post isn’t meant to be scientific or a reflection of any philosophical notions, just some random thoughts that I’ve pondered throughout the years. The basic point is that emergent behaviors and properties are weird. When an organism’s or individual’s habitat or environment changes in a truly novel way, you can’t necessarily predict what the response will be. Similarly, with complex systems, you can’t necessarily predict what strange properties will show up.

That’s all I got for now. Again, my next post will probably be about our cat Nutmeg, who, because she’s kind of chubby, I’ve taken to calling “Miss Chumbly-Wumbly”. Sure it makes no sense. But neither does this post.

The Tale of the Lonely Spider

Nerd Tree(Click to embiggen this picture. It’s huge.)

We haven’t yet gotten around to decorating our house for Christmas. We were going to do that yesterday (as well as cooking a bunch of food to stock our freezer and so on), but Jennifer got sidelined by a 7-hour conference call for work, so we didn’t get any of that done. So she did that, and I worked on the Holidailies site.

We did put up our Christmas tree a couple of weeks ago. Again, we haven’t had a chance to decorate it, but a day or so after we put it up, we did put on that giant spider that you see in the upper left, assuming that Sherman would knock it down at some point. So far he hasn’t. Then, because the spider was lonely, on Saturday I added the plush Cthulhu, which is a traditional Christmas decoration in our home (actually, Cthulhu lives on top of the grandmother clock in our hallway during the year, but in the tree during Christmas time). And yesterday Jennifer added the Dalek. So is our tree sufficiently decorated? You tell me.

In other news, I have decided that there is far too much negativity and downright nastiness in my life, mostly in the social media aspect of it. So I have promised myself not to be nasty, sarcastic, or mean on Twitter or Facebook. This certainly does include my political posts, and there’s a lot going on in politics right now that has been making me angry. The trick, I think, is to express that anger in a way that isn’t sarcastic or mean. Or, better yet, to channel that anger in a positive way. Saying that one group or another sucks might be cathartic but it’s hardly constructive.

It’s a precarious balance, and since I made that promise to myself, I haven’t actually posted either on Facebook or Twitter. I am sure I’ll post though. I go through phases anyway.

Now, this may be my only post for Holidailies. Enjoy it while you can.

Winds of Patwin County Kindle Edition Now Available for Pre-Order

Um… Pretty much what the title of this post says. The Kindle edition of “The Winds of Patwin County” is available for pre-order here. And at $2.99, I think it’s quite a bargain.

The trade edition will be available on May 1. I’ll keep you posted on that.

The Winds of Patwin County Cover

Some writing-related news

First, my Story of the Week thingy. I’ve rebooted it, and decided to start at Number One all over again. For purposes of this project, a story is at least 250 words and has a (mostly) coherent storyline. I sent out the first story, “The Hunt”, today, and hopefully the lucky readers will enjoy it. To sign up for my Story of the Week mailing list, go here. It’s fun!

Second, I’ve just put up a page for my novella, “The Winds of Patwin County“, featuring cover art by the fantastic Amber Feldkamp of Amber Covers. The novella will be available as an ebook on April 1 of this year, and in paperback on May 1. Share and enjoy!

Third, I’m considering setting up a Patreon page so that people can support my writing endeavors. Everyone else is doing it, it seems, and I just want to be cool. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Finally, on an unrelated note, my wife Jennifer and I just got Jawbone Up fitness bands. So if you’ve got one of those, let’s team up! I go under the name Richard Crawford, of course, and there’s a picture of me wearing a fez.

That’s all. Share and enjoy!

A Wee Whine

I need to update my website.

I need to rebuild the Holidailies.org website from scratch.

I need to rebuild the Stonegoose wishlist server from scratch.

I need to complete my advanced PHP/SQL course

I need to learn Ruby and Ruby on Rails

I need to learn all about Amazon Web Hosting services

I need to write a blurb for “The Winds of Patwin County”

I need to finish up my Swords Vs. Cthulhu story

I need to write a synposis of “Code Monkey”.

I need to learn Drupal.

I need to import all of the old Daikaijuzine.com (WordPress) articles into the new Daikaijuzine.net (Drupal) website.

I think I’ll go read some comic books.

One year on

I don’t deal with death very well.

My friend Leonard Pung died of pulmonary complications brought on by leukemia a year ago today. And every now and then I look through the window of the cafe where we hold our writers’ group meetings, and half expect to see him walking in, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a wry grin on his face, as if he had just come up with a delicious pun that he couldn’t wait to share with us.

I’m putting this video here. It’s Leonard reading from his short story, “Crossroads”. It’s a good story. Enjoy.

Return of the Kings Now Available

Return of the Kings, that awesome book that Jennifer orchestrated for my 45th birthday, is now available as an e-book from Amazon. Proceeds from the sale go to the Leonard Pung Memorial Scholarship for the Clarion Writers’ Workshop.

Go buy this. You know you want to read this.