My Mini-Quest for a Retro Hugo Holy Grail

Misty Midwest Mossiness

Earlier this month, I began the process of finding all the Retro Hugo Finalists short fiction selections in various anthologies through my wonderful local libraries and the miracle of the modern world commonly known as inter-library loan (ILL for short).  I requested the majority of the anthologies through my local home library in Lansing but the one I thought would have the least chance of fulfillment I requested through my other favorite library, the Kansas City Public Library.  Two of the short stories finalists for the 1943 Retro Hugo were only available in an anthology which was last printed in 1980.  I searched various websites that sell used books but as I suspected, any copies of Asimov’s The Great SF Stories 4: 1942 were hard to find and priced accordingly.  I should not have been surprised when I received an email from KCPL letting me know my ILL was…

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Daughter Featured at Contralto Corner

My niece posting about her talented daughter’s coming appearances.

Misty Midwest Mossiness

This post at Contralto Corner featuring my daughter became the high point of my evening.

I really need a Spring/Summer home in the Pacific Northwest so I can enjoy her live performances in person this season, or any season for that matter.  I miss hearing her unique, powerful and beautiful voice.

For a full list of her upcoming engagements, visit her web site here:

http://rachellemoss.com/engagments/

Visit her Patreon page and become a supporter for exclusive content, such as behind the scenes view of the creative process of preparing and performing classical music, discussions on the history and origin stories of operas she’ll be performing, videos featuring the music from those works, discussing opera history, and the current life of an opera singer.

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Looking a Lot Like Christmas Around Here

Thanks.

Misty Midwest Mossiness

As I promised earlier this month in my post about my building’s less than traditional holiday decorating, I managed to snap a few photos of some of my favorite things – and my that I mean Christmas lights, displays and decorations.

In roughly chronological order, starting with Thanksgiving weekend decorating the exterior of our home.

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Followed by a drive by on Grand Avenue past one of the tallest Christmas trees in the country in the heart of Crown Center two days later:

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I started off December right by stopping just before dawn on Broadway to snap this photo of the annual decorations hung at the Kansas City Life Insurance building:

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A week later I made it to work very early, with the sun still below the horizon with the help of some cloud cover and took several photos of the Country Club Plaza Christmas lights from the top floor…

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Book Review: The Christmas Train by David Baldacci (Three Stars)

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Book Review: The Christmas Train by David Baldacci, read by Tim Matheson

Four Stars

A fun, seasonal story. The blurb claims Baldacci is “one of America’s most critically acclaimed storytellers.” Never heard of him. It is a good story–mixing (rail)road trip, mystery, romance, humor and advocacy (for increased Amtrak funding). Has a good heart.

A fun read listen. Perfect tale for whiling away the miles on a road trip of my own.

Concern: Current revelations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood are reflected in one character. What goes on is Hollywood, like Las Vegas, is an open secret which our society has winked and Continue reading

Universal Song Remains the Same and Beyond All the Light We Cannot See

This explains in an understandable way why we only see “back” to CMB, not all the way to the Big Bang. Helpful.

Misty Midwest Mossiness

For such a small chapter, this week’s topic on Cosmology has some large and deep concepts.  I’m attempting to delve into “How did the period of inflation cause the universe to become homogeneous and isotropic?

Definitions

Big Bang ~ Universe began as an extraordinarily hot, dense primordial atom of energy and caused expansion, just like an explosion.  Before that moment, nothing existed, not even space and time.  Rather, the explosion created spacetime, which continues to expand.  (Comins, 446)

Cosmic microwave background (CMB) ~ If the universe began with a hot Big Bang, then calculations indicated the energy remnants should still fill all of space today. The entire universe’s temperature should be only a few kelvins above absolute zero.  This radiation’s blackbody spectrum peak should lie in the microwave section of the radio spectrum.  (Comins, 446)

Isotropy of CMB ~ The cosmic microwave background radiation is almost perfectly isotropic…

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Just A Sun-Day Drive Around the Galactic Neighborhood

Fun facts of the type that most writers of science fiction understand.

Misty Midwest Mossiness

This week I’m tackling the subject of our Sun’s motion through the Milky Way Galaxy and approximately how long one orbit is.

The Milky Way Galaxy has two major spiral arms, named the Perseus Arm and the Scutum-Centaurus Arm.  There are also smaller less pronounced arms, including the Sagittarius Arm, the Norma Arm, The Local Arm (aka the Orion Spur) and the Outer Arm.  Our solar system resides in the Orion Spur (Local Arm), branching off from the larger Perseus Arm.  During the summer months in the northern hemisphere, we predominantly observe the Sagittarius Arm, including the galactic center, which appears as steam from the Tea Pot asterism in the constellation Sagittarius.  (Gaherty, 2016)  Over the winter, we’re looking away from the galactic center and through the Perseus Arm.  (Comins, 396)

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To Serve Quietly (or Not) Against the Dying of the Light

Misty Midwest Mossiness

This morning I woke early, as I nearly always do, but with a melancholic mood fogging my mind.  Two Hallmark movies and a cup of hot tea later and I still could not shake the malaise.  I turned off the television and grabbed the closest half-finished book handy and continued my perusal of Cosmic Discoveries with David Levy.  The subtitle for chapter nineteen was a quote I’ve heard many times but which I had never read the original source.  Since the chapter also started with another quote from the same work with a byline to the poet, I decide there’s no time like the present to read the original poem.

My tablet was charging across the room so I grabbed my smartphone and searched on the phrase and poet and got a crazy amount of hits – no surprise.  I read the Wikipedia article first to get some background on…

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Books I Loved 2017 Edition

Misty Midwest Mossiness

At the end of September I reached that point in the year when I could shake off all my various book club obligatory reading and get down to the serious business of reading the books I bought for myself all year long.  Not every year gives me a break where I can read what I want.  I often have to squeeze in my ‘must read’ books between the two to three other books I read per month for various discussion groups and book clubs.  Don’t get me wrong.  I very much enjoy reading outside my comfort zone and would not give up the wonderful discussions and cherished friendships I’ve nurtured through a shared love of reading.

Moss "Loved-It" Shelf YTD 2017

Most years, I read between 75 and 100 books; last year I read 88 and as of today I’ve read 99 thus far in 2017.  And only about ten percent make it onto my…

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Book Review: The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell (Four Stars)

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Book Review: The Empty Throne (Saxon Stories #8) by Bernard Cornwell

Four Stars

“It probably did not matter what the Witan thought … or what I thought. I should have thought harder.”

A romp through a historic game of thrones. History may not be quite as exciting as fiction, but that’s why we have historical fiction. And few authors blow the dust off the pages of time better than Bernard Cornwell.

“It probably did not matter what the Witan though … or what I thought. I should have thought harder.”

Uhtred may be on his last legs. His near-fatal wound is festering, his king is dying, his family is threatened, and his dreams are unfulfilled. What’s a man do to? If that man is Uhtred, attack.

“I wanted an end to the pain, to the problems, but I also wanted to know how it would all end. But does it ever end?”

Well written. Good map, though unreadable in the ebook format. Love, death, betrayal, and surprises. A real life strong female leader. Leavened with humor.

“As I said, Father, I am not noisy.” “And I am?” “Very.”

No quibbles, just looking for an excuse to insert another text quote.

“How?” “By killing any bastard who opposes her.” “Oh, by persuasion.” “Exactly.”

 

Book Review: Through Five Administrations by William H. Crook (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, Body-Guard to President Lincoln by William H. Crook

Four Stars

“The newspaperman, then as now, was on the outlook for a sensation. There was less regard for the truth then ….”

I’m a sucker for primary sources, even when–especially when–the writer reveals more about himself and his stop than he intended. Such is the case with this book. Crook takes you into his mind. You experience six presidents from the perspective of one who worked with them closely and personally, but was not involved in the politics of the day.

“It must be taken as for granted that I am somewhat prejudiced.”

Not surprisingly, Crook sees the best of each man, though some reviled each other. He defends each president, even as he acknowledges that some (especially Andrew Johnson) poured burning coals on their own heads.

“A narrow circle of New England theorists who, with their inheritance of inflated ideals and incomplete sympathies, had come to replace, by way of aristocracy, the social traditions of colonial times.”

Snowflake warning: This was written more than a century ago. Crook’s attitudes and expressions will offend modern sensibilities, even of those who agree with him. But if we are denied his point of view, the whole work would be suspect.

“Speeches in both House and Senate … filled with wild alarm, not for the country, but for [their] party.”