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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn


cropToday's giftwrap is my favourite of the lot, so I'm showcasing it, cuz I'm wanting to mark the day. Yeah, for a significant number of USian citizens, today is truly a holiday; the wizard plans to hoist a (very rare!) noontime beer.

As he has, Scalzi of whatever has captured, much better (& more punchily) my feelings—both about the incoming and outgoing administrations.

Honestly, I don't know how to get across to

...the white folks out there, the perfectly nice, oh-sure-we-vote-Republican-but-we-thought-Trump-was-a-bit-much folks, and also the perfectly nice, oh-sure-we-vote-Democrat-but-let’s-not-get-ahead-of-ourselves-here folks, who even after an actual white riot at the Capitol still don’t grasp how their own privilege and assumption got us to a place where we almost chucked away our republic for someone who represents the worst possible version of our union. White people in their obliviousness almost “both sided” our country into authoritarianism and, yes, fascism

That yes, Trump lost, and lost big — by seven million votes and a whopping 34 electoral votes—is not a thing I can convince those voters who even now think the election was “stolen”. So I finish with this fellow traveller's plea to reconsider.

(I can say it took me a number of years to dig myself out of an anti-vax [for young children] stance, and even now I can't really say exactly how I did it; but I know arguing with my doctor didn't help. I appreciated her willingness to treat my children all the same, and I did eventually get my head out of my ass. But I felt—and still feel—that there wasn't the clear answers to the questions I had which would have been so helpful. And so I suppose, the best I can add to the conversation is...well, everyone has discontinuities to their thinking, some bigger than others. Learn, apologize, move on.)

Okay, so here's today's page. It's actually a triple gift. —Enjoy.


cropToday's photography is pretty lazy, but here's a delightful tutorial by Don Komarechka on shooting snowflakes (technically snow crystals) using fairly minimal equipment, to go along with that other dpreview link for shooting frozen soap bubbles.

I could've sworn —was absolutely convinced that I have featured that gorgeous snow crystal photography (by a different photographer, Mark Cassino) before, but evidently not.

O hai, here's the website I was thinking of...

In addition to being made of beautiful six sided crystals, snow also makes a handy, neutral & (during cloudy weather, which is the norm here during winter) diffuse background, as for this gift wrap that was really too big for my studio setup.


cropAaaaaaand we're back to giftwrapping, cuz I'm still don't have a lot of other stuff ready to show. Soon!

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (NYT link) for those of you in the US, and a pleasant Monday to those not.

I'm starting the week off with one of my dear friend's elegant giftwraps. Enjoy.


cropHey, it's time for FridayFugly!

John Scalzi sums up my whipsawing reaction to national events, alternating between ‘he *what?!***’ and ‘I can't even, I'm escaping back into my regular, boring life for awhile, thank you’ pretty well with this post...

On the political side, a timely short video from PBS about nazis in the USA (their popularity having been swept under the rug during WWII); I guess people need to have cults and cult leaders explained to them but all the stuff in this article looked excruciatingly obvious to me. Yet it clearly doesn't stop people (NYT link) bright enough to attend far more prestigious universities than I ever could afford (or pass SATs for) so I guess we need to keep hammering away at ‘Cults and their leaders are bad news, and need to be deprecated in the strongest possible terms.’

Speaking of cult of personalities, I was pleased to see this corrective to James Randi who basically destroyed legit paranormal research in his efforts to present as an awesome skeptic (& collect enough cash through his foundation to pay himself 200K a year—20% of its take). As a sf&f reader, telepathy and other paranormal stuff of course fascinated me, and I accepted its denigration to woo with a little sadness. Now, like, say, research on LSD and other psychedelics demonized for gain, we might be finding out there's more to the story. —But that doesn't stop the fact that 2 or 3 generations of research have been lost to disinformation.

Skydog Ranch has another heartwarming story of mustangs reunited. I particularly liked this one for the not-very-noble-reason of being fascinated by one of the horse's apaloosa markings, not to mention the other's being white with brown below the knees and brown ears—a pattern I haven't commonly seen/heard of.

Oh, and finishing up the week, the bracelet that inspired yesterday's.


cropMost of the time I need silence to work on pages or the like, but this soundscape of falling rain and vaguely Bladerunnerish techno was actually listenable. Also making the rounds, the evolving sound of kulning, or calling farm animals, especially cows.

And then (NYT link) there's this poet who cleans plastic bags from trees in NYC which I think is uber cool—I would happily clean the ditch behind our local apothecary, if I could figure out a way to get permission to park the trash bags in their dumpster (without, of course, actually going inside...)

And finally, a Cherokee Nation beader, Tayler Gutierrez, is selling earrings using traditional technique (& hide backings) with modern seed beads for a fresh, elegant take (NYT) on classic Native American Indian seed bead embroidery. —It always makes me happy to see bead artists make a living with their work.

And speaking of bead artists, here's a bracelet by my glass buddy Fran.


cropI bookmarked this page back on 23dec(!) but now more than ever, despite doing a terrible job of reading the books I check out from the library, I need to get White Trash: the 400-Year Untold History of Class in America from the library.

Grant you, class distinctions in the US are pernicious and problematic. (It still amazes me that it's evidently harder to move up in the US than the UK, which to my mind is the original bastion of class—and an argument the book, above, makes.) Nevertheless, being a redneck hillbilly (I'm descended from such, and so is the wizard—my ancestors hail from the Ozarks, his from Appalachia) doesn't absolve one of bullshit, abuse, and, um, sedition. (This link was via Whatever, and it in itself references Slacktivist, two of my favourite blogs for political commentary.)

My kids’ ancestors successfully whitewashed (ahem) their origins with education, in some cases as autodidacts, (i.e. reading—the wizard's dad never went to college, and he didn't bother until his job required it; my own father, who wandered through 11 years and some greater than 4 number of majors for his undergraduate and another five for his masters, always claimed college wasn't necessary, but that it could provide a useful framework for organizing all one's info.)

This is why I so strongly support public libraries, high-speed internet for all, and free college for anyone wishing to go. Because I am convinced that education is the surest, most robust way for anyone to achieve...whatever it is they want to do. (well, as long as those ambitions don't include sedition and treason, murder and mayhem of course.)

Instead, say, of having to hang our heads in shame while we attempt to recreate Kristallnicht. Honestly!

Tomorrow I will be more upbead, er, upbeat.