A “good” person

Why do people say that a murderer, a robber, a terrorist was a “good” person?

Is it because we don’t know what good means anymore?

(Note, after looking for the murderer=good thing I remembered reading, I found an article on murder in Victorian Ireland. He was a good man, his neighbors said, was a common refrain.)

Greek astronomy machine

A 2100+ year old Greek astronomy machine worked, according to Live Science.

It could predict solar and lunar eclipses. It mechanically replicated the irregular motions of the moon.

Previous reconstructions suggested the Antikythera Mechanism was about the size of a shoebox, with dials on the outside and a complex assembly of bronze gear wheels within. By winding a knob on its side, the positions of the sun, Moon, Mercury and Venus could be determined for any chosen date. Newly revealed inscriptions also appear to confirm previous speculations that the device could also calculate the positions of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn—the other planets known at the time.

In 150 BC this machine worked.

I wonder if I can borrow it for my second book? The wonders of the ancient world. Why would Dielli encounter it and what would she think?

My dissertation

I was reading my dissertation yesterday for the first time in years. I didn’t remember having so many tables in it! I didn’t remember having any at all and there were one hundred or so.

I was looking for an introduction to genre, which I know was in there, but I didn’t see it before it was time to go.

A Note on Genre (SF)

found while looking at David Simpson’s “Science Fiction”

A Note on Genre

To recognize some works as precursors of SF makes sense in any case because literary genres aren’t absolute classifications. They’re fuzzy sets. Moreover, individual works of literature–especially modern ones–are seldom entirely tragedies, or comedies, or satires, or adventure stories, or SF tales, or lampoons, or any one thing. Instead, they tend to be complicated amalgums of various genres. Twain’s Connecticut Yankee, for example, combines elements of comedy, satire, parody, farce, fantasy-adventure, and prophetic nightmare. Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle offers a similar mix. Yet without question both novels also qualify as specimens of science fiction.

(Emphasis mine.)

other good stuff from there:

It’s visionary.

The mere fact that a novel or film deals at length and seriously with science and technology does not necessarily mean that it’s honest-to-goodness SF. The novels of the British writer C.P.Snow, for example, are largely about science and scientists, but they’re hardly examples of science fiction. In fact these novels are actually much closer in style and character to standard historical or political novels than to sci-fi products. That’s because Snow’s concern is entirely with character, power, and moral conflict in a realistically rendered present–a precisely depicted here and now. Traditional SF, on the other hand, tends toward the hypothetical and has a decidedly more prophetic or apolcalyptic goal. The SF writer, that is to say, is more concerned with future scenarios and vivid alternatives, with provocative extrapolations and exciting possibilities, than with the naturalistic transcription of current circumstances. In short, true science fiction is visionary writing about science and technology.

Other options on words for “genre” in this sentence: “We can conveniently sub-divide SF into a set of modes, sub-categories, or sub-genres…”

Those sub-divisions:
fantasy adventure
utopian or dystopian
exotic travel narratives (Gulliver’s Travels again)
moral/philosophical tales

Mystery Genres

For a fascinating description of mystery genres, see Books ‘n’ Bytes discussion.

I think they mix genre (all of its wonderful permutations) with archetypes and motifs, setting, character… But it is an interesting discussion.

I especially like Camille’s (incredibly simplified) list of mystery types:

In the old days, publishers and critics classed mysteries in four (later five) sub-genres.
1) Ratiocinative (Puzzler, Whodunnit or “Classic”), where the emphasis was on the clues and the puzzle (Holmes, Ellery Queen, Charlie Chan).
2) Cozy, overlaps with the above, but specifically has a domestic setting, and an amateur detective — and it’s about the people more than the clues. Agatha Christie is the prime example here.
3) Hard-boiled–which may or may not involve a puzzle–has a private detective or criminal as the main character, and is about the seedier side of life. It relates to much pulp fiction and Film Noir. Dashiel Hammett and Raymond Chandler are the major examples here.
4) Police Procedural, which also may or may not involve a puzzle, is more about the police themselves — and may focus tightly on the case (think the TV show Law and Order) or more broadly on the melodrama of their lives (Hill Street Blues or LAPD Blue). Thriller is another sub-category–where the emphasis is on danger and suspense rather than the crime, sometimes a variation of Cozy (Woman in Jepardy) or Hard-boiled (Criminal stories).

If you don’t know what a cosy is, it is defined earlier by David and Vicki Ball as:

Cozy: There is a LOT of discussion on what does/does not constitute a cozy.

American Cozy: see Classic Cozy, but may include broader, harder-edged activity in a larger community.

Classic Cozy: small enclosed community, sex or violence off-stage, amateur sleuth, eccentric characters, a puzzle solved.

Potato Chip book: a good, quick, light read that won’t keep you awake at night.

I personally prefer classic cozies and potato chip books. Robin Paige’s works are classic, so are Susan Wittig Albert’s.

But I also like the Puzzlers (ratio what?), especially Holmes and those like him.

Genre Challenged Works

During a discussion with the head of my department, we realized that I like genre challenged works.

What does that mean? It means that I like to teach, and do teach, works where the genre is either unclear or where several different genres (whatever you mean by that) are mixed up together.

Is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland adult literature or children’s literature? People argue for adult literature because of the preponderance of the minor theme of death, of the scariness of the tale, and of the narcotic using caterpillar. They argue for children’s lit because it is fantastical, was written for a child, and was originally children’s lit.

Then we have the fact that saying a work is an adult or children’s lit genre doesn’t exclude the application of other genres to the work.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is clearly speculative fiction, but is it fantasy or horror?

If it is fantasy, is it low fantasy or fairy tale fantasy? (Carroll clearly was leaning this direction himself because he added a “fairy’s” comments at the beginning of the work.)

It is clearly an implausible story, one of Princeton’s definition of fairy tale. (They also said this was told as an excuse. An excuse for what?)

And it is clearly a smaller part of folklore, as Heidi Anne Heiner at Sur La Lune indicates. It was first told to Alice Liddle on July 4, 1862 and changed at least three times even once it was written down, until its publication on July 4, 1865.

According to Tolkein’s presentation of fairy tale the work is one since the story does take place in Faerie, the diminutive size (which he says we may reject but which it is not necessary to reject in this particular work) simply emphasizes it.

And at Heiner’s site, I find a quote that details just my problem with presenting “genre” to my students, in a quote from Jack Zipes’ “Introduction: Towards the Definition of the Literary Fairy Tale.” The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales. Oxford: Oxford University, 2000.

…[I]n fact, the literary fairy tale is not an independent genre but can only be understood and defined by its relationship to the oral tales as well as to the legend, novella, novel, and other literary fairy tales that it uses, adapts, and remodels during the narrative conception of the author.


So, what are my other “genre challenged” favorites?

Frankenstein. Is it science fiction or horror? Is it gothic? (And is that a genre?) I would say that it is definitely romantic (tradition) gothic (sub-tradition) speculative fiction. Whether it is sci fi or horror probably depends on your definition of those sub-genres. So…

Gulliver’s Travels. It is speculative fiction and fantasy. But what kind of fantasy is it? Is it a fairy tale? It is clearly an improbable tale, but is that its main point, its focus? Is it part of travel literature? (A very popular genre at the time Swift wrote, but pretty much non-existent now.) It is satire. (That’s a genre too, but of a different type.) It’s a social statement. … But what is it specifically?

Note that I wrote my dissertation on genres and attempted to define the genre of missionary newsletter. (So I’ve been doing this a while.)

The End is Coming

For Keith McCord. I asked yall to pray in June. Apparently God is calling him home this week. Please pray for him and for his wife Stephanie and their baby son, Lincoln.

God, please give him your faith in his salvation. Give Stephanie the strength to let him go. Bless Stephanie and Lincoln with your comfort and your strenghth. Help the R’s do what is best for her.

Shopping for your funeral dress… I would hate that.

I like reading and I like quizzes

so the “What Kind of Reader are You?” quiz was made for me.

What Kind of Reader Are You?

Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Literate Good Citizen
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

By the way, that summary at the end is ME.


I was going to write a long post listing my top 1000 blessings, but instead I will say that I am thankful to God that the RV stopped and did not hit the SUV in front of us, which did not hit the two little cars in front of it, which did not hit the 18-wheeler which decided to stop at the bottom of a hill on a highway where the speed limit was 70 and it was daylight without his flashers on.

I am so glad we didn’t smash ourselves or anyone else up.

Higher IQ protects kids

Okay, your child might be picked on for being a nerd, but it turns out that higher IQ at age 6 protects children from traumatic events or, if they are part of the smaller group of bright children who do, they are less likely to get post traumatic stress disorder.

“The ways in which high IQ might protect from the PTSD effects of traumatic exposure are unclear,” the study authors wrote. “The findings underscore the importance of investigating cognitive processes in a person’s responses to challenging and potentially traumatic experiences and the involvement of general intelligence in shaping them.”

Read more at Live Science.

Women allergic to sex

Not all of them, obviously, but some women are allergic to sex. Their allergy can be overcome with treatments made from the semen of their partner.

Like many allergies, some women outgrow it.

Read more at Live Science.

Tasting Health

Need an excuse to not eat your vegetables? Maybe you can say that you’re a supertaster. One in four people are. And how you taste impacts your health.

[B]rains are programmed to want fat, probably an evolutionary hangover from times of scarcity. But what’s necessary for survival isn’t all the brain likes. University of Michigan researchers just uncovered that eating something tasty can spark brain cells that sense actual pleasure to start firing rapidly.

More provocative, how intensely people sense different flavors seems to affect how healthy they are.

Are you among the “supertasters,” people who shun vegetables because they find them more bitter than the average person does? Supertasters may be more at risk of developing colon cancer as a result, says a recent University of Connecticut study.

from Live Science

Some people taste words

Live Science says some people “can taste a word before they ever speak it, and that the word’s meaning, not its sound or spelling, is what triggers this taste sensation.” They say that “phonograph” tastes of Dutch chocolate. “[M]any of the synesthetes reported words with the sounds “eh” or “mmm” tasted of mint, and that those containing the sound “aye” tended to taste of bacon.”

I don’t do this, but I think it would make reading a novel much more interesting. I wonder if they taste words all the time.

Ancient Tombs in Israel

National Geographic writes about 4000 year old tombs found in Israel. They haven’t been broken into, so they offer a peak into the past.

Other objects found at the site include metal weapons, tools, and jewelry as well as fully preserved earthenware vessels….

Sheep and goat bones found in the cemetery are believed to have been used in burial rituals.

The animal remains and foodstuffs, likely stored in earthenware containers, are known as “food for the dead” and were meant to serve the deceased after their passing.

It’s useful information for Dielli. I know I can use that somewhere.

Why we are here…

CS Lewis preached at Oxford on October 22, 1939. Less than two months earlier, Hitler had invaded Poland. Britain was about to face the Nazi onslaught. This is what Lewis told the assembled students:

It may seem odd for us to carry on classes, to go about our academic routine in the midst of a great war. what is the use of beginning when there is so little chance of finishing? How can we study Latin, geography, and algebra in a time like this? aren’t we just fiddling while Rome burns? This impending war has taught us some important things. Life is short. The world is fragile. All of us are vulnerable, but we are here because this is our calling. [ed. italics] Our lives are rooted not only in time, but also in eternity, and the life of learning, humbly offered to God, is its own reward. It is one of the appointed approaches to the divine reality and the divine beauty which we shall hereafter enjoy in heaven and which we are called to display even now amidst the brokenness all around us.

“…[T]he life of learning, humbly offered to God, is its own reward.”

Yes. Exactly.

(qtd. from our church bulletin.)

Sopapilla cheesecake recipe

This stuff is delicious.


2 pkgs. (8 ct.) Crescent Rolls (I used HEB brand)
3 pkgs. Cream Cheese
1 and 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

½ c. sugar
1 and 1/2 sticks butter, melted

Lay 1 pkg. crescent roll dough flat in bottom of lightly greased or buttered 13×9 pan. Press seams together. Blend cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together. Spread over uncooked dough. Lay 2nd pkg. crescent roll dough on top of cream cheese mixture and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Drizzle melted butter over the top and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.


More than you wanted to know

about me. I got this list from BevG, one of my five best friends in the world. (Too bad none of them live near me.)

I’ve italicized the ones I’ve done.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain- in Switzerland, in Germany, and in Tennessee
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights– I want to do this. I’ve been to Alaska twice, but I haven’t seen the lights.
15. Gone to a huge sports game –The UT v. A&M game ought to count.
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables– growing up and in NC when I knew BevG
18. Touched an iceberg– Hiked up a glacier/mountain in Switzerland. The ice was pink. Walked on a blue one in Alaska.
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper– lots of different babies diapers
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon– for graduation from my master’s program, in Colorado
22. Watched a meteor shower– in college, at Fort Phantom Lake, with my friends
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity– The best time I remember was at Christmas with R.
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse – in grade school using box with a hole– Hey, Bev. We were looking at the same one!
34. Ridden a roller coaster- I don’t do them anymore but I used to love them. My Oma White rode one with her husband, years ago, before they had bars. She didn’t want to go… She passed out and her husband had to hang on to her and the car for them to be alive. He managed. That’s not why I don’t ride them. They make me uncomfortable.
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking– At my hubby’s 20th reunion.
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day- I did a Cockney accent while working at the Renaissance Festival, for an entire ten weeks.
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states Not yet, but R and I want to do all 50 states.
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales– I was on a ship. Saw lots of them. I don’t remember where, though.
45. Stolen a sign –If you count a paper sign on a college bulletin board.
46. Backpacked in Europe – in the Juras when I was in Switzerland working
47. Taken a road-trip– Love those. R and I used to take a lot of them.
48. Gone rock climbing –in Switzerland. I was a lot more adventurous then.
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving I haven’t done this, but I dated a guy in the Air Force who was always saying he would take me. I was really looking forward to it, but it never worked out.
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero– An alien princess counts, right? And an alien princess robot?
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving I want to do this. Maybe this Christmas.
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain– My favorite time was with the boys.
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites –in Thailand
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark -in Thailand
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship– to Alaska and this Christmas, to Mexico and Belize
94. Spoken more than one language fluently– many years ago, Spanish
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children – still raising!
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi –
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad– at least part of it
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read -I did all the children’s books, since I missed those the first time around.
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair – red, black, blonde, pink
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life


Are holidays important?

Our first 16 years of marriage, I celebrated our meeting, our first date, our first kiss, our engagement, and our marriage. But last year and this we haven’t done that.

And we didn’t do anything for Halloween. R took the kids out for dinner and even though I actually made it home from work, I didn’t turn on the lights and hand out candy. Foolish me.

We didn’t do Veteran’s Day on Saturday, even though I had wanted to go to the parade. … I guess I didn’t want it badly enough to go, even if R didn’t want to.

But I miss holidays. What is it about my life that makes me not pay attention to them? It would have been fun to get my alien costume on and answered the door. It would have made me bawl to be at the parade.

What are the holidays supposed to be? What should they be?

Last year at Thanksgiving we were at Disney and it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving. Those people didn’t get to go away and see their families. I was thankful. We had a lot of fun.

I guess that’s it. We have fun when we do different things, but we don’t often do anything different except try out new restaurants.

I have a November resolution. I want to celebrate the holidays. We need to do something special for Thanksgiving. Maybe write down stuff we are thankful for? The boys and I did that one year and put the list on the wall. It went from the ceiling to the floor. I wonder if they remember that.

We need to plan something special for Christmas, even though we are going to be on a cruise. Maybe we could take small (but good) gifts with us to open Christmas eve? Mom and Dad are only planning on presents for the children. I need to find something small and good for A, G, and AK. But I need something small and good for R and my boys too. It needs to feel like Christmas.

I wonder how much money we have to spend on Christmas presents.

But I just want it to feel like holidays. Who wants 365 days of the same?