Saturday, December 31, 2011

Blog stats

Wrapping up the year.
294 posts here, plus 16 at Ficton, plus 20 at Battle Honors = 327.

"All time" stats, not counting the two sub-blogs:

13029 pageviews. Last year the total was 4369, so my net views for 2011 was 8660, or 23 a day.

Top posts by page views:
  • 245 Classical Values blog
  • 128 Absurd beliefs
  • 123 Stones and scriptures
  • 111 Letter from Australia
  • 103 If I had ten thousand dollars
Top referring sites:
  • 643 Google
  • 574 Bing
  • 119 Blogger
  • 90 Google Philippines
  • 68 Google Canada
Pageviews by country:
  • 8859 USA
  • 567 Australia
  • 401 Canada
  • 384 Russia
  • 294 Germany
  • 230 South Korea
  • 177 UK
  • 132 Ukraine
  • 128 Netherlands
  • 121 Philippines

Important events of 2011

Important to me, that is.


Spellbound is the second book in Larry Correia's Grimnoir series, set in the 1930s era with the addition of superpowered Actives. You need to read Hard Magic first to understand Spellbound. This is nothing to complain about-- see my review or just note that Hard Magic has, in Larry's words:
a teleporting magic ninja fight on top of a flaming pirate dirigible in a world with bear cavalry, gangsters, wizards, and John Browning fighting the magic samurai of Imperial Japan with Tesla super weapons"
so you should want to read it. And if you don't, what's wrong with you?

The Grimnoir are a society of Actives who are trying to protect normals from abusive Actives, and Actives from hostile normals. Jake Sullivan is former solider, former private eye, who looks like a big dumb bruiser. He is now a Knight of the Grimnoir, and an Active Heavy (more formally, a Gravity Spiker). When someone attempts to frame the Grimnoir for an assassination attempt on the President, and when Jake gets a phone call from an enemy he already killed ... well, things get interesting.

Larry's other series is Monster Hunter, and one thing that bugs me about that series is that the protagonist has been granted a one-of-a-kind divine mandate by authorial fiat. (This happens in other successful series, but it bugs me there too). The Grimnoir series doesn't have that problem; Heavy Jake does have super powers, but so do about 1% of the rest of the population. He's better at using them, but only because he's smart and self disciplined.

Buy it in hardback. Read it on nights when you don't have to go to work the next morning.


Amazon is awesome. Tom ordered two books for me around Thanksgiving; one arrived here, one arrived somewhere that the delivery service thought was here. Yesterday at 6:45 Tom emailed Amazon to say that the missing book was missing, do we need to order another copy or what? Amazon Customer Service apologized for the mishap (which wasn't their fault to begin with), promised to send a new copy and promised to send it Next Day Air. And it arrived at 10:52 this morning. Can't get better than that.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The idea was interesting, but the execution was lacking. It's an action film, but some of the action just doesn't make sense--it feels too contrived. My Suspenders of Disbelief were overstretched, so to speak. Jekyll was okay but why was Hyde such a nice guy? When did Nemo get to be a martial artist? Why blow up that much of Venice? How did the characters learn to drive cars? Why did the villain go to all that trouble when he had superweapons already? Given who the villain was, why would he say "There will be more like me"? Why did he move to Russia? a good film, the characters have to make choices. Am I going to throw in my lot with the Rebellion even though it means I have to take a fighter to the Death Star? Do I want Buttercup bad enough to storm the castle when I can barely move? In this movie, though, each character (except Quatermain) got a couple of lines of token "why I'm fighting" at the beginning, but that was it. Not a lot of agonizing over "why are we doing this? Is this right or wrong?", not enough "I could give up and move to Cleveland but instead I'm going to risk my life to accomplish this."
It felt too busy, particularly during the fight at the Evil Fortress. We have a kind of climactic scene between one hero and the traitor, we have another one with Nemo and Hyde, we have another one with Quatermain...okay, I know you have to show why this character and that character and all are extraordinary, but it was just too much. Build up the climax, make it big and impressive, and be done.
But if you want a campy pseudo-superhero group in 1899 , this may be for you.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The marsh is all golden brown now, with no tinge of green. The moon and Jupiter setting in the west. Earlier, one lone duck was in the water, bobbing under and popping back up.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Josh's expedition

Josh is camping for the week at Wilson's Promontory, which is the cape southeast of Melbourne. I gather spear fishing will be involved.


We saw Tintin The Movie tonight. It was enjoyable, although nothing profound; in fact, that was the main problem with it. There wasn't much introspection, and what there was seemed a bit forced; there was no pondering of "why am I risking my life to do this?" There was plenty of action, though: "a few more thugs with guns hunting for our hero", and "yet another chase scene". There were a few inconsistencies or storytelling issues: why did they show Haddock shooting the dam, when it had so little effect? How did the tank get involved? Why did Sir Francis Haddock need to make a mysterious message to tell where the treasure was? But the animation was impressive.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Stockings and coffee, then a few presents, then walk the mutt. As I was coming back to the house with Zoe, I saw one of our neighbors arriving. She had departed Virginia Beach last night and driven 300 miles to drop off her daughters with her former husband, then she turned around and drove through the night to get back this morning. Glad I've never had to do that.

Breakfast was eggs and sausage, then the rest of the presents. Notable gifts included a Sarcasm Ball (because I am unable to come up with sarcasm on my own), three scarves (from three different people), four sweaters, plus books including The Empire Strikes Out, Snuff (the latest Discworld book), Spellbound (sequel to Larry Correia's Hard Magic), and A Brief History of the Universe. The big present for me was new struts and tires for the Camry.

Since Diana should be staying off her feet, I made Christmas dinner solo. I considered the house specialty-- beurre d'arachide et confiture -- but decided the occasion called for a little extra effort. The menu:
  • roast turkey breast and gravy
  • mashed potatoes
  • cranberries
  • petite pois
  • steamed carrots
  • stuffing with sausage, onions and mushrooms
  • yeast rolls
  • vanilla roasted pears with raspberries
  • pink moscato
And I managed to get it all ready at the same time.

Post turkey nap, phone calls from friends and relatives, and reading my new books. Nice peaceful Christmas day.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Got up too early because Zoe was feeling frisky. So I got tea, the house properly cleaned, more tea, made a sherry cake, picked up a few things for Christmas dinner, more tea. Diana dropped off gifts with the neighbors, five packages arrived on our doorstep, friends stopped by, and we had our Christmas call with Josh, Gwen and Gwen's mom. Candlelight service at church, with a drive by some of the more elaborately decorated houses on our way home.

For our Christmas Eve gifts, Diana chose the package from Gwen's mom, with several things related to blue wrens; mine was a new frying pan, which bodes well for sausage and eggs tomorrow morning.

Last year we were in the mountains and had snow--lots and lots--and the year before we caught a bit of snow at Tabitha's place, but this year it's about 40° and no snow in sight.

We have the nutcracker soldiers up, the stockings hung, the tree decorated...still feels odd without Josh here.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Eve Eve

What a week. It's been weird not having Josh home for Christmas--first time since 1989.

And Diana came back from Montreal in a wheelchair, due to a bad knee exacerbated by arthritis. So I've been walking the dog, getting Christmas gifts and prescriptions and groceries, taking the car in for repairs, doing much of the housework, making dinner, and carrying stuff up and down stairs as needed. Oh, and going to work. It's been busy. I have no idea how single parents cope with a regular week, much less all the stuff for Christmas.

But it's all done. Time for a long winter's nap. Not a creature was stirring...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dogs and screens

We've had several conversations with Josh by Skype, and in some of them Josh has said "Hi Zoe!" However, The Mutt doesn't respond. She can certainly hear; drop a bit of bacon on the kitchen floor and she will rush downstairs. And it's not like she doesn't know who Josh is; if he were here, Zoe would be bouncing around and romping with him. So does she just not recognize voices? Do dogs need a smell-o-vision? Does Skype not carry the full frequency audio range, so it doesn't sound real to her? I think I detect the opportunity for a multimillion dollar research grant...

Monday, December 19, 2011


Watched The Golden Compass and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

I'd heard The Golden Compass is pro-atheist and specifically anti-Catholic. The book may well be, but it didn't come across that strongly in the film, certainly not as blatantly as in V for Vendetta. The Big Evil Organization was apparently intended to be the Church but was actually rather more like your average Communist dictatorship. There is a certain irony to it: the author was preaching atheism because he was afraid the Church might act the way atheistic governments do. And of course there's the alethiometer, which is a mystical device, and only a few people have the esoteric knowledge necessary to use it; this reminds me of Gnosticism, or for that matter our "ruling elites" who "know what's best for us" because they've been to Harvard, or some such.
The film was watchable, once, but not memorable. I ended up feeling that the protagonist was in need of a spanking or two.

The Mummy was the third in the series; instead of taking place in Egypt, this one is set in China, with the terra cotta army, the Great Wall, and Shangri La making an appearance. I was disappointed that Rachel Weisz didn't play Evy this time around, but otherwise it was fine; not a life-changing epic, but a fun movie nonetheless.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Egg Nests

I attempted to make Egg Nests, although it didn't quite work out as the egg white didn't get stiff enough. I added the salt at the beginning, and a few drops of lime juice, and it got fluffy but not to the point where I could make a mound of it without it spreading out all over. And then I beat in the parmesan instead of folding it in, which didn't help. Eventually I spooned it into a pair of ramekins, added the egg yolks, and put them into the microwave. But I put bacon beside it, so it was fine.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tea Party

On December 16, 1773, a group of Sons of Liberty members dumped crates of tea into Boston Harbor.

In 1811, the New Madrid (Missouri) earthquakes struck, causing parts of the Mississippi to flow backward, awakening people in Pittsburgh and Norfolk, and ringing church bells in Toronto and Boston.

Also, a notable international economist was born in Virginia Beach in 1988.

RIP Christopher Hitchens

Sometimes brilliant, sometimes incoherent, but always, as far as I could tell, fearless.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Words vs Action

“One's feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions
which bring results. ”

Florence Nightingale (1820–1910)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Close Action AAR

A USS Franklin-centric view of yesterday's combat is on Battle Honors.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Storms of Steel

The After Action Report on my first scenario with Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel posted on Battle Honors

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Ploughed through 4400 words in the last two days to end up at 30,006 for the month. That isn't 50k, but it is 30k more than I had when I started November.