Random (but not really)

Monday, September 17, 2018

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Sunday we made it to my happy place.

Location: Coopers Rock
Trails: Rhododendron, Notmucha, Clay Run, Mont Chateau Trails
Distance: 4.6 miles
Elevation: 1511-2156 ft (851 feet rise)

Written by Michelle at 7:07 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Books of August

It’s too hot to get excited, even though I do have some excellent books here. And some not so excellent books, as I had one DNF and two books I disliked.

I’m slowly re-reading Brother Cadfael, which is an historical mystery series set in the England – Wales border in the 1130s. I love these stories.

I finished Marie Brennan‘s Lady Trent series, which was utterly marvelous. You really need to check out these books–and give them to a fantasy-loving young person in your life.

Historical Fantasy

Within the Sanctuary of Wings (2017) Marie Brennan (9.5/10) (The Memoirs of Lady Trent)

I’m listening to the Raven Boys series, which I adore and which breaks my heart. I love this series, and Will Paton does a marvelous job with the narration. This is a YA series, but everyone should read it. Really.

I read one very good historical romance series, the Haverston Family series by Alissa Johnson. These are boinking books, but I do love her storytelling.

Historical Mystery

Brother Cadfael
Monk’s Hood (1980) Ellis Peters
Saint Peter’s Fair (1981) Ellis Peters (8/10)
The Leper of Saint Giles (1981) Ellis Peters (8/10)
The Virgin in the Ice (1982) Ellis Peters (8/10)
The Sanctuary Sparrow (1983) Ellis Peters (8.5/10)
The Devil’s Novice (1983) Ellis Peters (8.5/10)

Historical Romance

Haverston Family
Nearly a Lady (2011) Alissa Johnson (8.5/10)
An Unexpected Gentleman (2011) Alissa Johnson (8/10)
Practically Wicked (2016) Alissa Johnson (8.5/10)
The Duchess Deal: Girl Meets Duke (2017) Tessa Dare (7/10)
Widdershins (2012) Jordan L. Hawk (7/10)
Lord of Secrets (2013) Alyssa Everett (6.5/10)
The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter (2018) Mimi Matthews (6.5/10)
Dreaming of You (1994) Lisa Kleypas (5.5/10)
Silent Revenge (2012) Laura Landon (4/10)
Six Impossible Things: DNF (2017) Elizabeth Boyle

Audio Books

Raven Boys
The Raven Boys, Audio Edition (2012) Maggie Stiefvater narrated by Will Patton (9.5/10)
The Dream Thieves, Audio Edition (2013) Maggie Stiefvater narrated by Will Patton (10/10)
Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Audio Version (2014) Maggie Stiefvater narrated by Will Patton (10/10)
The Devil You Know, Audio Edition (2006/2007) Mike Carey narrated by Michael Kramer (8/10) (Felix Castor)
Something from the Nightside, Audio Book (2003/2008) Simon R. Green narrated by Marc Vietor (7.5/10) (Nightside)
A Deeper Sleep, Audio Version (2007) Dana Stabenow narrated by Bernadette Dunne (8.5/10) (Kate Shugak)
Silence Fallen, Audio Edition (2017) Patricia Briggs narrated by Lorelei King and George Newbern (7/10) (Mercy Thompson)

And now: the stats!

More reading time than expected, because it was hot, and because Michael’s work was crazy busy, so we didn’t get much hiking in this month.

Lots of ebooks this week, five of which I also own as e-books and/or paper books. And a lot of re-reads, partially due to the audio books, and partially because I needed something I knew I’d like to wind down at the end of the day.

eBook : 16
Audio : 7
Multiple Formats : 5
Re-read : 14

Genre-wise, this is an odd and oddly even split.

Fantasy : 8
Mystery : 8
Romance : 8
YA : 4

Sorry guys, women are still leading the pack of authors I’m in the mood to read.

Male : 2
Female : 14
Male Pseudonym : 6

And those are the books of August!

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day

Textile Mills









Triangle Shirtwaist Factory



Chimney Sweeps



Come all of you good workers,
Good news to you I’ll tell
Of how the good old union
Has come in here to dwell.


My daddy was a miner
And I’m a miner’s son,
And I’ll stick with the union
‘Til every battle’s won.

Breaker boys working in Ewen Breaker Mine in South Pittston, Pennsylvania, 10 January 1911, from a 1908-1912 series on...

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there;
You’ll either be a union man,
Or a thug for J. H. Blair.


Oh workers can you stand it?
Oh tell me how you can.
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?




Upper Big Branch

child labor today 1

child labor today 2

child labor today 3


child labor today 4




Just a reminder what we’re celebrating today.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Holidays,Politics  

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Hiking WV: New River Gorge, Grandview Area

Forecasts around the state were calling for a possibility of rain and thunderstorms, so we headed south to New River Gorge. It’s been awhile since we were at the Grandview area, and I’ve wanted to hike the Glade Creek trail.

On the way, after looking at the maps, I decided we should take the Little Laurel trail up the Grandview proper.

Here’s the sandbar area. We saw kayakers and rafters go by but mostly it was surprisingly quiet for a Saturday afternoon.

2018-09-01_NRG Sandbars

Location: New River Gorge
Trails: Little Laurel, Grandview Rim Trails
Distance: 7.2 miles
Elevation: 1305-2596 ft (1466 ft rise)

Little Laurel Trail
2.5 miles
1480-2539 feet
It took us just over an hour to hike up.

The maps we had said the Little Laurel trail was 2 miles. According to my GPS, from one sign to the other the trail was 2 1/2 miles and 1000 feet elevation rise.

Start HERE. At the BOTTOM. At Glade Creek Road near sandbar area.


This is NOT readily accessible from the main portion of the Grandview area. It’s a 2 1/2 mile hike from one area to the other, but it’s an 22 mile drive and that 34 minutes is almost certainly a lie.

Here’s the drive:

Here’s the hike. (View both in Satellite mode to see the comparison more easily.)

Powered by Wikiloc

Here’s the top. If you’re starting here… Don’t. Unless you like the second half of your hike to be 100% uphill.


I’m not quite sure what this tree is doing, but I am impressed.


And here’s why you want to hike or drive here.


Written by Michelle at 5:51 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hiking WV: Tea Creek

I absolutely adore the Cranberry / Tea Creek Wilderness areas. They’re beautiful and they are usually not a lot of people there.

The trail we chose yesterday was along Tea Creek itself, so we saw lots of people fishing, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment (probably because there were no mountain bikes and everyone looked happy).

Location: Tea Creek Wilderness
Trail: Tea Creek Trail
Distance: 6.6 miles
Elevation: 3009-3569 feet (756 gain)

Signs your trail might be on an old rail bed.


The light was lovely, so I took a picture of two other people out on the creek.





Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, August 26, 2018

How Do You Like Them Apples?

Yesterday on our hike I started to wonder about apples. Specifically: Why are apples typically portrayed as red?

The majority of apples we find at our Farmers Market are green or green & red. Yet when you think of an apple, you generally think of a shiny red apple. Why?

Considering that the most common red apple is the misnamed Red Delicious, which was bred not for flavor but looks and storage, it’s amazing that anyone would want to think about Red Delicious when they think “apple”.

Vaguely from my plant biology classes, I remembered that color was often dependent upon light. So might where apples were red be related to why red is seen as the color of apples? Were red apples more common in Europe?

But it’s even more complicated than that.

Apples do not breed true from seed. If you plant apple seeds you will not get an apple tree that bears the fruit of the apple you planted, most likely you’ll get a cider apple (which is what Johnny Appleseed was doing–planting seeds for cider apples, not the fruit).

You have to graft to get a reproducible apple variety.  So what grows in an area is dependent not just upon hardiness, but what humans have chosen to grow in any particular area.

Out of curiosity, I decided to look up what influences peel color in apples, and although light is important, temperature is also important, and colder temperatures increase anthocyanin production. Which makes sense in retrospect, since anthocyanis are protective. So you’ll get red apples where there is a lot of sun, but also where there are colder temperatures.

So red apples would seemingly be more likely to thrive in areas with harsher conditions (more UV or lower temperatures).

It still doesn’t make Red Delicious apples taste better, but it does help explain why we might have developed a preference for red apples.

(FWIW our other indepth discussion yesterday was use of silver to kill paranormal creatures and what kind of ammunition would be best (and easiest) to defend yourself. So don’t think that I spend my time pondering highfalutin topics.)

Red Color Development in Apple Fruit
Traverso, Amy. The Apple Lover’s Cookbook. W. W. Norton & Company.

Written by Michelle at 11:51 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food,Non-Sequiturs,Science, Health & Nature  

Monday, August 20, 2018

House Size Vs Household Size in the US

I came across an article on how the size of houses has changed over time in the United States. I found it interesting how there was a slow decline until WWII, then the square footage drops for the only time, after which house size skyrockets.

Now this is interesting in and of itself, but I know that my great-grandmother had (IIRC) ten kids, most of whom survived to adulthood (many of whom lived to 90, but that’s another tale), so I was curious as to whether the household size briefly increased once modern medical techniques came to the fore before decreasing.

Interestingly, the data I found didn’t show a bump in the 1900s, just a steady decline. (You can also check the census data.)

So of course, being me, I wanted to see how this data looked.

It turned out to be far more linear than I was expecting, although it did make a nice X.

Now to be clear, we’re looking at household size here, not total population, so that number should include not just children, but parents or grandparents or other extended family members. Which is why I found the steady decline so interesting.

But even more fascinating–and horrifying–is that as households got smaller, the size of the house in which those smaller families live has gotten steadily larger.

Don’t get me wrong–I live in a very small house and there have been many occasions where I desperately wished my kitchen was bigger, or that I had a separate dining room, or that I had another bedroom, or that I had more storage space. But for the most part I like living in a small house.

Which is why I find the increase is house size so bizarre. What on earth do people PUT in these houses? Do people in houses three times as large as my house even see each other over the course of a day?

So that’s one of the things that has been on my mind recently, and now I’ve nattered on about it I can close a bunch of browser tabs.

ADDENDUM the FIRST: The reason there was no household data in 1920 was because apparently the census takers didn’t count large households the same as was done in other years.

Written by Michelle at 8:50 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: History,Non-Sequiturs,Religion & Philosophy  

Monday, August 6, 2018

Hiking WV: Canaan Mountain Backcountry

Michael had a long and busy week at work, so we didn’t want to go too far afield. Davis is a relatively easy drive, so we hiked the Canaan Mountain Backcountry, out of Blackwater Falls.

It was gorgeous. No scenic views or water falls, just a lovely hike.

Location: Canaan Mountain Backcountry
Trails: Davis, Plantation Trails
Distance: 7.0 miles
Elevation: 3236-3615 feet (808 feet rise)



Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Sunday Flower Pr0n: Botanic Garden Edition

It was a nice walk at the Botanic Garden, but it’s hot and humid and now we’re both wiped out.





Written by Michelle at 2:55 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos  

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Books of July

It’s that time! Although I got birthday books, I also have been listening to a lot of audio, so not as many new reads as I’d expect.

Some of my favorite books of the month were the next two entries in Marie Brennan’s Memoirs of Lady Trent series: Voyage of the Basilisk (Rating: 8.5/10) and In the Labyrinth of Drakes (Rating: 8.5/10). This series is fantastic. You really should check it out, and then give it to any aspiring natural historians or research scientists in your life.

Fantasy, Supernatural

Mercy Thompson
Night Broken (2014) Patricia Briggs
Fire Touched (2016) Patricia Briggs (Rating: 8/10)

Mystery, Historical

The Alienist (1994) Caleb Carr (Rating: 8.5/10)
Brother Cadfael
One Corpse Too Many (1979) Ellis Peters (Rating: 8.5/10)
A Morbid Taste for Bones (1977) Ellis Peters (Rating: 8/10)

Fantasy, Historical

Memoirs of Lady Trent
Voyage of the Basilisk (2015) Marie Brennan (Rating: 8.5/10)
In the Labyrinth of Drakes (2016) Marie Brennan (Rating: 8.5/10)

Audio Books

Mercy Thompson
Silver Borne, Audio Edition (2010) Patricia Briggs narrated by Lorelei King
River Marked, Audio Edition (2011) Patricia Briggs narrated by Lorelei King
Frost Burned, Audio Edition (2013) Patricia Briggs narrated by Lorelei King
Alpha & Omega
Dead Heat, Audio Version (2015) Patricia Briggs narrated by Holter Graham
Fair Game, Audio Edition (2012) Patricia Briggs narrated by Holter Graham (Rating: 8/10)
Burn Bright, Audio Version (2018) Patricia Briggs narrated by Holter Graham (Rating: 7.5/10)

The Stats! The Stats!

eBook: 7
Audio: 6
Multiple Formats: 2
Re-read: 11

As I said, a lot of audio books this month, all of which were re-reads. And for bedtime reading I started re-reading the Brother Cadfael series. It’s good and I can read it at any time, but it shouldn’t keep me awake reading when I need to sleep. And note about the multiple formats–those are books I own in multiple formats. I borrowed most of the audio books from the library, because I don’t like the narration enough to own them.

Fantasy: 10
Mystery: 3
Romance: 3
YA: 2

Mostly fantasy this month.

Male: 1
Female: 10
Male Pseudonym: 2

And male authors were all but missing this month. More than twice the number of female authors as male so far this year.

And those are the books of July!

Written by Michelle at 6:32 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  
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