Sunday, March 31, 2013


We had friends help us move up here. Most of our stuff fit into the Uhaul, but we ended up tying some of the odd-shaped stuff into the back of Theo's pickup truck. Among these were the office chairs, the bird playstand, the Grim Reaper, Laura the mannequin.

This made for a pretty entertaining drive, particularly since we got into town late at night.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Beach dogs.

Awesomedog has a typical heeler-shriek bark. He is particularly shrill when he is excited and impatient.

We go to the off-leash dog beach a lot. We meet a lot of other cattledog owners there. Most people who own them are pretty enthusiastic about the breed, but it's always a bit difficult to chat with each other.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sleeping with Cats.

The cats sleep wherever they want. Sometimes that's on me.

The Hellions are fine, but occasionally Evilcat decides to sleep on me. Sometimes she suddenly gets offended and claws my face. That's a fun way to wake up.

Sometimes she doesn't seem to notice or care that I'm not Z.

And then we both wake up and come to the same realization at the same time.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tortoise Hunt!

I like to visit the Turtle Sanctuary and play with the tortoises. My favorite part is rounding them up in the evening and putting them in their houses for the night.

I'm pretty good at finding their favorite hiding spots. Tortoises are like Easter-eggs with feet.

Some of them are very heavy.

I had thought all the really big tortoises had gone to zoos recently. I was wrong.

The turtle sanctuary also has a lot of birds. Turkeys, peacock, ducks, and lots and lots of chickens.

I'm not sure there's anything quite as silly as a hen trying to brood a tortoise like an egg.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Battle of Waterloo

I decided to read the complete and unabridged Les Misérables, partly because I've found that most classics are classics for a reason, and partly because I felt like doing some masochistic reading. After finishing Lovecraft I wanted another good slow-read.

I went into this project well-prepared. I knew that only 1 in 3 chapters would contain actual plot, and that there was absolutely no way to tell whether a given one was a plot-chapter without reading the entire thing.

In particular, I was warned ahead of time that I would learn more details than I ever wanted to know about the sewers of Paris. Also that there was a giant chunk of the book devoted to the Battle of Waterloo for some reason.

While historically very important, Waterloo occurred 40 years before the plot of the book. There are 19 chapters about the battle, and only a tiny little nugget of plot at the very end of the very last chapter. I knew this before I started reading  Les Misérables. I knew that at some point I was going to have to abandon the plot and read a random book about the Battle of Waterloo. I often read several books at the same time, I was ok with this. I knew I needed to not be emotionally involved in the plot because at some point it would go on hiatus for a good long time.

And then I was reading intently along as Fantine died and Valjean escaped from jail and was on his way to rescue Cosette, when suddenly it snuck up on me.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Convergence Insufficiency.

I had an educational eye exam last year, and discovered that I have managed to make it to the age of 29 with an undiagnosed eye problem. This all started when my niece's developmental therapist wanted to test the entire extended family for learning disabilities. Among other things, she showed me a picture of a cube like this:

You and I both know that this is a static picture. It's not moving. My brain knows it's not moving. Obviously it's not moving. However, the therapist asked me to count the number of cubes in the third row and then asked if the squares were moving. You know, when I really look at it, the cube moves a bit like this:

The therapist also showed me a blank musical staff and asked if the lines were moving. Intellectually I know they aren't moving, but if I really look they do this:

The eye problem is called a convergence insufficiency. It means one of my eyes points out and up, instead of in perfect alignment with the other eye. Something like 15% of kids have this issue, but it is usually caught and corrected with eye exercises. Convergence insufficiency can make everything look blurry, especially sharply-contrasted things like words on a page, or black and white patterns. It can make it difficult for kids to concentrate, and make reading difficult. I've always been a fast and avid reader, apparently my eyes are really good at compensating. The illusion of everything moving is caused by my wonky eye perpetually trying to align itself to focus and then rapidly flicking back to its natural placement. To correct this I now have prisms in my glasses. My glasses are tinted blue-gray to stop solid colors from looking like magic eye puzzles.

The eye doctor also determined that it takes a full three seconds for me to switch focus between tiny fine print up close and the eye chart on the wall. Now I have blue-tinted prism bifocals and I can see everything far more clearly than I ever have before. It's like the difference between regular and high-definition television.

Sharing these revelations with Z was fun.

Guess who else has prisms now?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Art Class: Expectations vs Reality

I think most adults don't really remember what it's like to be a kid. I've been teaching summer art classes for years, and I can remember what it was like to have to follow the directions and do what everyone else was doing when I really would have preferred to do my own thing. I usually tell the kids in my classes that they aren't required to do the same project as everyone else as long as they aren't being disruptive, but a couple of years ago I got to start a class I had been imagining since childhood.

It would have been the art class of my dreams as a kid, we had paper, pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils, several different types of paint, sequins, bells, plastic jewels, seashells, pipe cleaners, curling ribbon, scrap fabric, cardboard boxes, small bits of scrap wood, hot glue guns, popsicle sticks, craft foam, pompoms, googly eyes, yarn, and almost anything else you can find in a craft store. I had boxes and boxes filled with leftover stuff from my old classes, and the other teachers would bring me their scraps and unused bits of their craft kits. The first day I expected the kids to either be completely lost or utterly out of control.

Instead I was pleasantly surprised.

I even let the kids use the hot glue guns themselves, on the theory that they would learn to be more careful if they burned themselves. Kids who made a big fuss about getting burned were banned from using the glue guns, and I had classroom aids supervise and glue stuff for the kids that needed help. This was remarkably successful. Shockingly, the parents loved the whole thing, from the total lack of structure to the slightly-dangerous glue guns. Sometimes they would just stand around in the doorway and watch the kids create, or lament that they didn't have an entire room at home to devote to creativity.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Lovecraft Reading List

I recently finished reading the Complete Works of H. P. Lovecraft.

Not the extended works, this was just all the stuff he did on his own. Lovecraft opened his fictional universe of horror to his friends and other authors, leaving us all free to play and write and shudder. The Complete Works include everything Lovecraft ever wrote, including unfinished stories, things he wrote as a small child, and his essay on Supernatural Horror in Literature. Intended as a history, this is basically H.P.'s personal reading list for those who enjoy his work.

I made a list of all the titles and authors Lovecraft mentions, and started looking for them. To my delight, nearly everything is in the public domain and can be read on Project Gutenberg or The Internet Archive. You can even find free audiobooks for many. My list is approximately seven pages long, and I've only linked sources for the first two pages, but here it is in case you'd like to embark upon your own journey of literary horror. I'll add further links as I find them. The bold titles are the works that Lovecraft spent a significant amount of text discussing. Enjoy!

“Child Roland” Robert Browning
The Turn of the Screw Henry James
Elsie Venner Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes
“The Upper Berth” F. Marion Crawford
“The Yellow Wall Paper” Charlotte Perkins Gilman
“The Monkey’s Paw” W.W. Jacobs
The Book of Enoch
The Claviculae of Solomon
On Wonderful Events Phlegon
“Philinnion and Machates” Proclus
“Bride of Corinth” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Morte d’Arthur Sir Thomas Malory
Dr. Faustus Christopher Marlowe
Macbeth William Shakespeare
Hamlet William Shakespeare
“Apparition of Mrs. Veal” Daniel Defoe
Adventures of Ferdinand, Count Fathom Tobias Smollett
“Ossian” James Macpherson
“Tam O’Shanter” Robert Burns
“Christabel” Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Kilmeny James Hogg
“Lamia” John Keats
Wild Huntsman Gottfried August Bürger
Lenore Gottfried August Bürger
“The Ring” Thomas Moore
Faust Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The Castle of Otranto Horace Walpole
“Sir Bertrand” Anna Barbauld
The Old English Baron Clara Reeve
The Recess Sophia Lee
The Mysteries of Udolpho Anne Radcliffe
The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne Anne Radcliffe
A Sicilian Romance Anne Radcliffe
The Romance of the Forest Anne Radcliffe
The Italian Anne Radcliffe
Gaston de Blondeville Anne Radcliffe
Edgar Huntly Charles Brockden Brown
Ormond Charles Brockden Brown
Arthur Mervyn Charles Brockden Brown
Wieland Charles Brockden Brown
The Monk Gregory Lewis
The Castle Spectre Gregory Lewis
Tales of Terror Gregory Lewis
Tales of Wonder Gregory Lewis
Northanger Abbey Jane Austen
Fatal Revenge; or, The Family of Montoria Charles Robert Maturin
Melmoth the Wanderer Charles Robert Maturin
Horrid Mysteries Marquis von Grosse
The Children of the Abbey Regina Maria Roche
Zofloya; or, The Moor Charlotte Dacre
Zastrozzi Percy Shelley
St. Irvyne Percy Shelley
History of the Caliph Vathek William Beckford
Arabian Nights
Caleb Williams William Godwin
St. Leon William Godwin
The Magus Francis Barrett
Faust and the Demon George W.M. Reynolds
Wagner, the Wehr-wolf George W.M. Reynolds
Frankenstein Mary Shelley
The Last Man Mary Shelley
“The Vampyre” Dr. John William Polidori
Redgauntlet Sir Walter Scott
Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft Sir Walter Scott
Tales of a Traveller Washington Irving
Alciphron Thomas Moore
The Epicurean Thomas Moore
“The Werewolf” William Harrison Ainsworth
The Phantom Ship William Harrison Ainsworth
“The Signalman” Charles Dickens
“The House and the Brain” Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Zanoni Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton
A Strange Story Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Varney, the Vampyre Thomas Preskett Prest
She Sir H. Rider Haggard
“Markheim” Robert Louis Stevenson
“The Body-Snatcher” Robert Louis Stevenson
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson
Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte
Undine Friedrich Heinrich Karl
Treatise on Elemental Sprites Paracelsus
The Amber Witch Wilhelm Meinhold
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Hanns Heinze Ewers
Alraune Hanns Heinze Ewers
“The Spider” Hanns Heinze Ewers
Hans of Iceland Victor Hugo
The Wild Ass’s Skins Honoré de Balzac
Séraphîta Honoré de Balzac
Louis Lambert Honoré de Balzac
“Avatar” Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier
“The Foot of the Mummy” Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier
“Clarimonde” Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier
“One of Cleopatra’s Nights” Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier
The Temptation of St. Anthony Gustave Flaubert
“Venus of Ille” Prosper Mérimée
“The Horla” Guy de Maupassant
“Who Knows?” Guy de Maupassant
“The Spectre” Guy de Maupassant
“He?” Guy de Maupassant
“The Diary of the Madman” Guy de Maupassant
“The White Wolf” Guy de Maupassant
“On the River” Guy de Maupassant
“Horror” Guy de Maupassant
The Man-Wolf Erckmann-Chatrian
“The Invisible Eye” Erckmann-Chatrian
“The Owl’s Ear” Erckmann-Chatrian
“The Waters of Death”
“Torture by Hope” Villiers de l’Isle-Adam
The Golem Gustav Meyrink
The Dybbuk Ansky
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket Edgar Allen Poe
“Metzengerstein” Edgar Allen Poe
“The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” Edgar Allen Poe
“MS. Found in a Bottle” Edgar Allen Poe
“The Man of the Crowd” Edgar Allen Poe
“The Masque of the Red Death” Edgar Allen Poe
“Silence - A Fable” Edgar Allen Poe
“Shadow - A Parable” Edgar Allen Poe
“Ligeia” Edgar Allen Poe
“The Fall of the House of Usher” Edgar Allen Poe
A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys Nathaniel Hawthorne
Tanglewood Tales for Boys and Girls Nathaniel Hawethorne
Dr. Grimshawe’s Secret Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Marble Faun Nathaniel Hawthorne
Septimius Felton Nathaniel Hawthorne
Dolliver Romance Nathaniel Hawthorne
Legends of the Province House Nathaniel Hawthorne
“The Minister’s Black Veil” Nathaniel Hawthorne
“The Ambitious Guest” Nathaniel Hawthorne
“Ethan Brand” Nathaniel Hawthorne
The House of the Seven Gables Nathaniel Hawthorne
“What Was It?” Fitz-James O’Brien
“Diamond Lens” Fitz-James O’Brien
“The Death of Halpin Frayser” Ambrose Bierce
“The Damned Thing” Ambrose Bierce
“The Suitable Surroundings” Amrose Bierce
“The Middle Toe of the Right Foot” Ambrose Bierce
“The Spook House” Ambrose Bierce
Can Such Things Be? Ambrose Bierce
In the Midst of Life Ambrose Bierce
Wandering Ghosts F. Marion Crawford
The King in Yellow Robert W. Chambers
Trilby George de Maurier
The Maker of the Moons Robert W. Chambers
In Search of the Unknown Robert W. Chambers
The Wind in the Rose-Bush Mary E. Wilkins
“Fishhead” Irvin S. Cobb
“The Dead Valley” Ralph Adams Cram
The Dark Chamber Leonard Cline
The Place Called Dagon Herbert S. Gorman
Sinister House Leland Hall
“The Song of the Sirens” Edward Lucas White
“Lunkundoo” Edward Lucas White
“The Snout” Edward Lucas White
The Hashish-Eater Clark Ashton Smith
The Double Shadow and Other Fantasies Clark Ashton Smith
“The Phantom Rickshaw” Rudyard Kipling
“The Finest story in the World” Rudyard Kipling
“The Recrudescence of Imray” Rudyard Kipling
“The Mark of the Beast” Rudyard Kipling
Fantastics Lafcadio Hearn
Kwaidan Lafcadio Hearn
The Temptation of St. Anthony Lafcadio Hearn
The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
Xélucha” Matthew Phipps Shiel
“The House of Sounds” Matthew Phipps Shiel
The Purple Cloud Matthew Phipps Shiel
The Lair of the White Worm Bram Stoker
The Jewel of the Seven Stars Bram Stoker
Dracula Bram Stoker
The Beetle Richard Marsh
Brood of the Witch-Queen Arthur Sarsfield Ward
The Door of the Unreal Gerald Biss
Cold Harbour Francis Brett Young
Witch Wood John Buchan
“The Green Wildebeest” John Buchan
“The Wind in the Portico” John Buchan
“Skule Skerry” John Buchan
“The Were-wolf” Clemence Housman
The Elixir of Life Arthur Ransome
The Shadowy Thing H.B. Drake
Lilith George Macdonald
The Return Walter de la Mare
“Seaton’s Aunt” Walter de la Mare
“The Tree” Walter de la Mare
“Out of the Deep” Walter de la Mare
“A Recluse” Walter de la Mare
“Mr. Kempe” Walter de la Mare
“All-Hallows” Walter de la Mare
“The Listeners” Walter de la Mare
Visible and Invisible E.F. Benson
“The Man Who Went Too Far” E.F. Benson
Negotium Perambulans” E.F. Benson
“The Horror-Horn” E.F. Benson
“The Face” E.F. Benson
They Return at Evening H.R. Wakefield
Others Who Return H.R. Wakefield
“The Ghost of Fear” H.G. Wells
Thirty Strange Stories H.G. Wells
“The Captain of the ‘Pole-Star’” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
“Lot No. 249” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
“Mrs. Lunt” Hugh Walpole
The Smoking Leg John Metcalfe
The Celestial Omnibus E.M. Forster
“A Visiter from Down Under” L.P. Everett
Uncanny Stories May Sinclair
The Boats of the “Glen Carrig” William Hope Hodgson
The House on the Borderland William Hope Hodgson
The Ghost Pirates William Hope Hodgson
The Night Land William Hope Hodgson
Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder William Hope Hodgson
Chronicle of Clemendy Arthur Machen
The Hill of Dreams Arthur Machen
“The Great God Pan” Arthur Machen
“The White People” Arthur Machen
The Three Imposters Arthur Machen
“The Red Hand” Arthur Machen
“The Shining Pyramid” Arthur Machen
The Terror Arthur Machen
The Great Return Arthur Machen
“The Bowmen” Arthur Machen
“The Willows” Algernon Blackwood
“The Wendigo” Algernon Blackwood
“An Episode in a Lodging House” Algernon Blackwood
Incredible Adventures Algernon Blackwood
John Silence-Physician Extraordinaire Algernon Blackwood
Jimbo Algernon Blackwood
The Centaur Algernon Blackwood
A Book of Wonder Lord Dunsany
A Dreamer’s Tales Lord Dunsany
The Gods of the Mountain Lord Dunsany
A Night at an Inn Lord Dunsany
The Laughter of the Gods Lord Dunsany
The Queen’s Enemies Lord Dunsany
Ghost Stories of an Antiquary Dr. Montague Rhodes James
More Ghost Stories of an Antiquary Dr. Montague Rhodes James
A Thin Ghost Dr. Montague Rhodes James
A Warning to the Curious Dr. Montague Rhodes JamesThe Five Jars Dr. Montague Rhodes James