Category Archives: science fiction

Mundane Monday: CITO Events

This past weekend was Earth Day in the United States. There were marches in support of science in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, which I agreed with and supported, but didn’t end up going to. I am an introvert and don’t like crowds.

I did something more mundane, which was to go to CITO events. “CITO” means “Cache In, Trash Out,” and these are geocaching events in which cachers look for trash instead of geocaches, and pick it up and take it out of the park. Frequent CITO-ers carry trash grabbers, poles with a handle and button on one end and two pincers on the other, which close when you press the button. Having one of these means you don’t actually have to touch the trash with your hands, which can be a good thing. I bought my husband a really crappy one last year. It broke at our first event. We tried to fix it at subsequent events, but it never worked properly and we finally ended up throwing it in one of the trash bags. I bought him a new one this year that seems to be working better!

SchwanLakePark
Schwan Lake Park, Santa Cruz

We went to two events, one each day of the weekend. One was in Santa Cruz and one was in the Baylands Reserve near the Googleplex. As you can see, neither of them ended up having a lot of trash to pick up, but they were gorgeous walks in beautiful weather. The wildflowers are out and you can see them blooming, in contrast to the bright blue sky.

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Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Mountain View

And then, I used this online bio generator to make a satirical “artist bio” for my landscape photography for Mundane Monday. I thought the bio was surprisingly accurate (or at least amusing. And I learned some new words!) Plug in your own information and see what you get :-). For the Mundane Monday Challenge #106.

Karen Allendoerfer (°1965, Providence, United States) is a photographer who mainly works with the iPhone. With Plato’s allegory of the cave in mind, her photos references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.

Her photos demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the early part of the twenty-first century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. By choosing mainly formal solutions, she makes work that deals with the documentation of events and the question of how they can be presented. The work tries to express this with the help of physics and technology, but not by telling a story or creating a metaphor.

Her works are characterised by the use of everyday objects in an atmosphere of middleclass mentality in which recognition plays an important role. By taking daily life as subject matter while commenting on the everyday aesthetic of middle class values, she investigates the dynamics of landscape, including the manipulation of its effects and the limits of spectacle based on our assumptions of what landscape means to us. Rather than presenting a factual reality, an illusion is fabricated to conjure the realms of our imagination.

Her works establish a link between the landscape’s reality and that imagined by its conceiver. These works focus on concrete questions that determine our existence. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, she tries to develop forms that do not follow logical criteria, but are based only on subjective associations and formal parallels, which incite the viewer to make new personal associations.

Her works are an investigation into representations of (seemingly) concrete ages and situations as well as depictions and ideas that can only be realized in photography. By exploring the concept of landscape in a nostalgic way, she often creates work using creative game tactics, but these are never permissive. Play is a serious matter: during the game, different rules apply than in everyday life and even everyday objects undergo transubstantiation.

Her works are based on formal associations which open a unique poetic vein. Multilayered images arise in which the fragility and instability of our seemingly certain reality is questioned. Karen Allendoerfer currently lives and works in Mountain View.

Book Review: A Gleam of Light by TJ and ML Wolf

A Gleam of Light (The Survival Trilogy #1)A Gleam of Light by T.J. Wolf

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A Gleam of Light has many of the elements of a first-rate thriller: a sympathetic protagonist, mystery, conflict, and a fascinating backdrop. It’s clear that a great deal of thought and research has gone into this book. These elements, however, need to be put together differently to keep the reader really turning its pages.

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Book Review: Tales From Alternate Earths

Tales From Alternate EarthsTales From Alternate Earths by Daniel M. Bensen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this idea for an anthology and even though the premise is popular and often tried, I was intrigued to pick it up and explore the stories. My favorites were “Twilight of the Mesozoic Moon,” which also had the best title and the most imaginative characters, and “The Secret War,” which provided a unique twist to a story I already thought I knew something about.

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Book Review: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Water KnifeThe Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paolo Bacigalupi is a master of near-future dystopian science fiction. I’ve been dabbling in the genre, and reading this book made me realize that I have a long way to go with respect to world building. In many ways, this book is a textbook for how it should be done. The book is richly drawn, with complex characters, plausible extrapolation of current events, catchy slang, and unexpected twists and turns. With The Water Knife, Bacigalupi is at the top of his imaginative game.

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Film Review: Rogue One, a Star Wars Story

I was going to post this review a couple weeks earlier, but the untimely death of Carrie Fisher, the actress who played Princess Leia, delayed my finishing it. Leia was barely in this installment, and much of the initial discussion of her cameo focused on the CGI. But even though I haven’t been a real Star Wars geek for many years, Fisher’s death hit me hard. Continue reading Film Review: Rogue One, a Star Wars Story

Book Review: The Secret King–Lethao, by Dawn Chapman

The Secret King: LethaoThe Secret King: Lethao by Dawn Chapman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book bears a heavy responsibility. It is part of a larger team enterprise called The Secret King, which has a website, several book titles, a dictionary, audiobooks, 3D artwork, and a created language associated with it. This book, Lethao (named for the home planet), is where it all starts in more ways than one: it introduces the important characters, their conflicts, and their quest. Continue reading Book Review: The Secret King–Lethao, by Dawn Chapman

Book Review: Eden’s Serum by Angelique S. Anderson

Eden's SerumEden’s Serum by Angelique S. Anderson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a very readable and fun science fiction romance. Its fast pace and plot twists made it feel like a screenplay for a summer sci-fi action thriller. There were a couple of times the plot genuinely surprised me and made me sit up in my chair and take notice. That rarely happens to me any more as a reader, even with science fiction.

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Little Writing Retreat on the Prairie, Part III: Storm

Thunderstorms in South Dakota are impressive. You can see entire storms in the distance, hanging down from clouds. And after dark the thunder and lightning put on a 360-degree show. Linda had a weather radio in Homestead House, the house where retreaters stayed and wrote. This radio would go off periodically with warnings about thunder and hail storms. Linda told me how to turn it off if I was trying to sleep, but I ended up leaving it on because the announcements only came while I was awake, and I thought they were interesting. Continue reading Little Writing Retreat on the Prairie, Part III: Storm

Little Writing Retreat on the Prairie, Part II: Nostalgia

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 6.00.45 PMMy German husband has been to all 50 United States, and he’s found a geocache in every one. Although I’ve travelled quite a bit too, mostly with him but also with the family I grew up in, this trip was my first time in South Dakota. I got on one big plane at SFO airport, and then transferred to a small one in Denver, heading to Rapid City. There I rented a car and drove about a half hour south to the ranch where the retreat took place, just south of the small town of Hermosa. The normal schedule for these retreats is a half day, followed by two full days, followed by another half day. My flight schedule worked out that I got in late the night before the first half day, and rather than stay in a hotel in Rapid City, I added another night at Windbreak House. With the extra time in SD before the retreat started, I planned to do some sight-seeing and find a few geocaches.

Continue reading Little Writing Retreat on the Prairie, Part II: Nostalgia