Random (but not really)

Friday, March 27, 2020

E-Moore Hall Sycamore

If you weren’t aware, the sycamore in front of EMoore hall is scheduled to be taken down, along with several other historical trees on campus.


On social media I’ve seen a lot of people up in arms about this, and although I am admittedly sad, these trees are unhealthy and unfortunately a danger.

In 2011 the silver maple in front of Stewart Hall fell unexpectedly, and it was very lucky that no one was injured, and no buildings were hit.

So I thought I’d point out something that I don’t think many people have noticed: the sycamore branches have support wires–and have for several years.

Here’s a one view of the tree–if you click through you can zoom in and see several other pictures I took from different angles.


And here are three different areas where you can see the bolts that the wires are strung between.

I noticed these wires years ago, which is why I was not at all surprised that the tree is coming down. Unfortunately, for all it’s age and history, the tree is becoming a danger not just to the building, but also to people who walk around this busy part of campus.

So as much as I don’t want to see the sycamore go, it’s better to take it down safely, than for one of these branches to fall.

And on a positive note, the wood from these trees is going to the Davis College to be used to make things, which is a lovely use.

And FWIW, here is the stump of one of the two trees that has already come down.


Again, if you click through you can zoom in and see the amount of rotted wood at the core.

So, hopefully this won’t many anyone feel better necessarily about the trees having to come down, but to understand why it is necessary.

Written by Michelle at 2:53 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Morgantown,West Virginia  

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Happy Hour Books

I had a lovely virtual happy hour with friends, and someone mentioned we needed to note all the books mentioned. Here’s what I have, minus the SF and history books, which I don’t remember.

American Gods (2001) Neil Gaiman
Anansi Boys (2005) Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman –Urban Fantasy

The Wolf at the Door (2018) Charlie Adhara (Big Bad Wolf) — Supernatural fantasy w M/M romance

Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters (2016) Angel Martinez (Offbeat Crimes) — Supernatural fantasy w/ M/M romance

Open for Business (2016) Angel Martinez (Brandywine Investigations)
Family Matters (2018) Angel Martinez (Brandywine Investigations) — Supernatural fantasy w/ M/M romance

Band Sinister (2018) K.J. Charles (Historical M/M Romance) (Georgette Heyer’s Venetia)

Thirteenth Child (2009) Patricia C. Wrede (Frontier Magic) (sub for Alvin Maker series) (Historical fantasy)

The Illiad by Homer

Isaac Asimov, William Gibson (?), Ray Bradbury

Histories of Nixon and some other Republicans.

N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy – The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky (Vince)

Claire North’s “The End of the Day” (David)

Darynda Jones’ Charlie Davidson series

I’m not naming the authors we used to love until we discovered they were horrible people.

I’ll list more as people remind me!


Written by Michelle at 6:15 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,UCF  

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Books of February 2020

Even having an extra day, February flew by. Very little hiking this month because it WON’T STOP RAINING, so once more an absurd amount of reading.

So what was good last month? A lot!

Blank Spaces

The Trouble Brewing series by Layla Reyne was almost as good as her Irish & Whiskey series. Imperial Stout, Craft Brew, and  Noble Hops were all fun and thrilling, although lots of boinking.

I finally broke down and purchased Rob Thurman’s Trickster series as ebooks, and   Trick of the Light was just as good as I remembered. 

Because I was talking about it with Michael (and because there was a new book coming out) I re-read Charlie Adhara’s Big Bad Wolf, which I enjoyed just as much the second time around.

I’ve found a lot of Ace romances, and most of them were very good. I definitely recommend Upside Down by N.R. Walker, Three Stupid Weddings by Ann Gallagher,  Blank Spaces by Cass Lennox, Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists by Angel Martinez , and  All the Wrong Places by Ann Gallagher

I even read some comics last month. All were new-to-me series, and I do want to read more of Lady Mechanicka

Here’s what I read by category. The Ace romances may or may not have boinking, so check the tags / categories if you want to be sure.

Mystery, Historical

Owen Archer
The Riddle of St. Leonard’s (1997) Candace Robb Rating: 8/10
A Gift of Sanctuary (1998) Candace Robb Rating: 7.5/10

Trick of the Light
Mystery, LGBT

The Art of Murder
The Monet Murders (2017) Josh Lanyon Rating: 8/10
The Magician Murders (2019) Josh Lanyon Rating: 8/10
The Monuments Men Murders (2019) Josh Lanyon Rating: 6/10
Trouble Brewing
Imperial Stout (2018) Layla Reyne Rating: 8/10
Craft Brew (2018) Layla Reyne Rating: 8.5/10
Noble Hops (2019) Layla Reyne Rating: 8.5/10

Fantasy, Supernatural

Trick of the Light (2009) Rob Thurman (Trickster) Rating: 9.5
Big Bad Wolf
The Wolf at the Door (2018) Charlie Adhara Rating: 8.5/10
The Wolf at Bay (2018) Charlie Adhara Rating: 9.5/10
Thrown to the Wolves (2019) Charlie Adhara Rating: 9/10
Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists (2017) Angel Martinez Rating: 8.5/10
Known Devil (2014) Justin Gustainis (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation) Rating: 8.5/10
The Alpha and His Ace (2015) Ana J. Phoenix Rating: 5/10

The Wolf at the Door
Romance, LGBT

Upside Down (2019) N.R. Walker Rating: 9/10
Three Stupid Weddings (2018) Ann Gallagher Rating: 8.5/10
Blank Spaces (2016) Cass Lennox (Toronto Connections) Rating: 8.5/10
Dine with Me (2019) Layla Reyne Rating: 8.5/10
Arctic Heat (2019) Annabeth Albert (Frozen Hearts) Rating: 8/10
All the Wrong Places (2016) Ann Gallagher (Bluewater Bay) Rating: 8/10
Candy Hearts (2020) Erin McLellan (So Over the Holidays) Rating: 7/10
Save the Date (2017) Annabeth Albert & Wendy Qualls

Romance, Historial

The Winter Companion (2020) Mimi Matthews (Parish Orphans of Devon) Rating: 8/10


Lady Mechanika Volume 1: Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse (2015) Joe Benitez, Peter Steigerwald Rating: 7.5
Check, Please!: # Hockey (2018) Ngozi Ukazu Rating: 7/10
Mooncakes (2019) Suzanne Walker, Wendy Xu Rating: 7/10

So what good did you read last month? Or did you have decent weather and were able to leave your house?

Written by Michelle at 2:44 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Don’t Yuck My Yum

I read an article that voiced something I’ve seen in so very many sub-cultures: the hatred of things once they become popular because popular can’t possibly be good.

I think music might give the best example, just because I can so clearly hear the things people said about so very many bands.

1. Oh, I love (obscure band). You haven’t heard of them?
2. I saw (now up and coming band) back when they first started.
3. Ugh. (Now popular band) totally sold out. I hate all their new stuff.

Yes, sometimes good bands put out lousy follow-up albums. Some artists change things up and so every album is different which means what you loved about one album may not be in a later album (See: Prince). But usually it was the same music and only popularity tainted it and made it unpalatable.

The same thing happens with books of course (hence the original article catching my attention).

The fantasy books (and mysteries) I love are typically looked down upon because they aren’t “serious literature”. I never believed that about fantasy, though I did look down upon romance novels for decades. However, that was due to my introduction to the genre, which was full of rape, and the fact that I just don’t care for boinking in books, and the romances I came across were full of it. (“UGH. They’re kissing again. Can we get back to the sword-fighting and cat burglary?”)

I eventually got over that, because there were so very many really good stories I was missing out on solely because they were kissing books, although I still skim the boinking bits to get back to the crime solving or whatever.

And of course the same happens with movies. If it’s popular we have to look down upon it for it cannot be “good”.

Whatever. Give me my explosions and car chases and you can watch whatever “artistic” stuff you want. And don’t even get me started about the bullshit that happens at cons with “fake gamers” and “you’re not a real fan if you don’t know every bit of minutia” crap that is almost always directed at females.

The fact is, hating things solely because they are popular doesn’t make you cooler or show better taste. It just means you’re an asshole.

There are plenty of books I’ve hated, and some genres of music I absolutely cannot stand. But the fact that I dislike something does not make it inherently bad, it just means I prefer other stuff. Sure I’ll still complain about how much I dislike opera and I flat out won’t read dystopias because they make me feel terrible. But if you like opera or dystopias: good for you!

If someone has found something that makes them happy, that is AWESOME! We need more happy in the world.

I like what I like. If you don’t agree with me, I’m delighted to discuss why “I hate all those high notes that sound like screeching”. Just don’t try to tell me something sucks solely because it’s popular. Because that’s elitist bullshit and I’m completely uninterested.

Hating Popular Books Does Not Make You Superior: A Lesson Learned

Written by Michelle at 4:32 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Geek,Movies & TV,music  

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Finally got out to Coopers Rock.

Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trail: Advanced Ski Trail
Distance: 5.2 miles
Elevation: 1518-2226 feet (773 feet)

No snow. No flowers. But there was water.




Written by Michelle at 8:18 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Tax Burdens

We’re in that interstitial period where people like me who filed their taxes as soon as they could have already gotten their refunds, and the majority of everyone else are dragging their feet, waiting for the last minute.

I’ve discussed this before, but I have always been delighted to pay taxes.

I like paved streets and police and fire departments.

I like public education and after school programs.

I like knowing that families struggling can have a way to help put food on their tables.

I like the elderly and disabled having access to medical care and believe that health care is a right and that no one should have to die because they can’t afford it.

So I’m totally fine with taxes.

What I’m not ok with is how those taxes are paid. Why? Because a greater percentage of income is paid by the poor–those who are least able to afford it.

Here are the numbers for West Virginia:

Lowest 20% Second 20% Middle 20% Fourth 20% Next 15% Next 4% Top 1%
9.4% 9.1% 8.5% 8.8% 8.7% 7.7% 7.4%

The poorest 20% of the population pays 9.4% of their income in taxes. The richest 1% pay 7.4% of their income in taxes.

And to clarify, that is income–what money comes in–not existing wealth.

States without income taxes place a much higher tax burden on the poor than the rich.

Lack of income tax means high taxes for poorer households; low taxes for high-income households

Lack of income tax means high taxes for poorer households; low taxes for high-income households

What does this mean?

That people with second homes and golf course tee times are supported by service workers earning minimum wage.

That those with leisure are supported by those working multiple jobs.

If it was up to me, I’d enact a wealth tax. I’d shift the income tax burden from the poor and to the wealthy.

But of course coming from a poor state, I get almost no saw in any of those–the primaries are generally decided long before we vote, and out-of-state actors have an outsize influence on state politics.

But it doesn’t mean I’m not mad about it.

ITEP: Who Pays?

Written by Michelle at 4:39 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Friday, February 14, 2020

Want a Bigger Research Pool for Concussion Studies? Stop Focusing on Football Players

Violence against women has been an invisible epidemic pretty much forever. Even when we moved past “She must have provoked him” and “It takes two to make a fight” it still happens every day, across all classes. One quarter–25%–of all women will experience domestic violence.

So why do researchers focus on football players and soldiers when looking at the affects of repeated concussion? Most likely because these huge numbers of women are hidden. Women rarely talk about the violence perpetrated against them, for reasons of embarrassment but also of fear.

72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female.

Fear for their children. Fear for family members. Fear for themselves.

In 2017, 2,237 people were murdered by their intimate partners–a number that has been on the rise in recent years. Those murders didn’t just come out of left field–they generally come after violence and abuse and attempts by the victim to escape.

But because we don’t talk about these victims, because they are hidden in plain sight, researchers don’t even consider adding women to their research studies, even if their history of abuse has affected their health, income, and ability to work.

I have no answers or solutions, just a reminder that violence against women remains a problem in our society and our world. By forgetting about it, by allowing it to remain hidden, by allowing those who have been abused to feel shame and guilt and fear, we allow it to continue, and we fail to help those who have suffered not just the immediate bruises and broken bones and fear, but the long term affects of fear and trauma.

Research into athletes should continue, because they are the most obvious sufferers of repeated concussion, but researchers need to remember that their pool of candidates is far larger, and those who have suffered violence often don’t have the resources to help them deal with the long-term affects.

CTE Researchers Should Study Domestic Violence Survivors

National Statistics Domestic Violence Fact Sheet


Patrick Stewart: the legacy of domestic violence

Written by Michelle at 2:37 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Science, Health & Nature  
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