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It's finally getting colder out there. It's looks like time to drag out the flannel sheets. We had frost both yesterday morning and today. 

Weekend

Oct. 16th, 2017 08:59 am
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I learned that if I keep a burner running, my stove runs. That's good news. There must be something weird about the pressures. In bad news, the stove ran hot, so the bread came out too crusty. Still good, though.

Jenny ran off to listen to a Norse saga somewhere in upstate New York. She had a wonderful time.

My daughter and I slouched about home, and had Aggie over for the day. The girls played and I ignored them.

I've been working on covers. My first try (which I'd spend money on the images) didn't pass muster with some other writers. The two main faults, in my mind, was that the image didn't say fantasy enough (I think it did, which is why I reality check), and more importantly, the image had been used on other books, which is a killer. So, I spent too much of Sunday working on alternate ideas. 
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In the Red Lord's Reach (1989) by Phyllis Eisenstein reads like the fantasies a decade earlier, which makes sense because the stories were first published in 1977 and 1979 in The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy. That makes this book seem a fix-up, but I think that the short stories were always intended to form a complete arc. Each chapter of the novel reads like a complete short story.

This particular novel is the sequel to Born to Exile, being the second book of the Tales of Alaric the Minstrel. I hadn't read the first, but that didn't matter. While his past history got quite a few nods, this set of stories forms a distinct stand-alone tale, assuming nothing of the reader.

Because the novel is broken down into stories,  you almost always get a feel of progression and advancement, as each story isn't so long that the action bogs down or that it gets lost in its own descriptions. It's a good trick and I'd like to see more modern authors using it. Where it falls down compared to modern novels is in its loose story arc. The ending doesn't come across quite as rousing as if an entire book has built up to that point. 

The action here is very low key as action isn't the focus of the story. If you're good with that, the story moves, but if you crave good action, you'll find that many sections drag.

The primary character, Alaric, has one good power, teleporting, and much of the novel explored that one good power, what it means, and what advantages it can be put to. While some advantages of teleporting are obvious, many are situational and not quite as obvious. The character of Alaric himself is a bit of a pacifist and a bit of a self-doubter. He's not an oozing testosterone fighting hero. Everything doesn't go right simply because he's a good guy doing right. The world is a bit more complicated here than good and bad, a little larger than it seems at first.

While I happily recommend the book to anyone, as I rather enjoyed the read, I can't say that anyone in particular would enjoy it. In this novel, much depends on your taste.
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From the way that the new Star Wars movies are set up, we know some things.

Rey and Kilo are on parallel tracks. They will both be growing stronger and contesting each other as the films progress. The culmination of the three films will directly involve them and their force relationship to each other in a final confrontation/fight.

Both Rey and Kilo must be tempted, although that which tempts Jedi vs Sith differs.

All we know about Rey is what she's self reported. That story may not be accurate. Even she doesn't really know, so her past is an open book.

The second film see the good guys lose while the ascendence of evil seems assured.

We know that the series will end on a large battle and a personal battle. The forces of good must overcome the forces of evil.

Hope must be lost before it's regained.

Snoke has a plan. His plan will feature prominently in the last film, and it will be bigger than the First Order or any of their petty ambitions.

The rousing conclusion will likely feature a third way, something that both Rey and Kilo will determine.

The final conflict must resolve the age old conflict of Sith and Jedi. (This will end the series. It must resolve this primal conflict.)

Rey and Rilo will discover an unexpected connection, one that's not obvious.

Key concepts and ideas evoked in Films 1-3 will likely return, helping to bring a feeling of full circle to these films.
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I hate color grading. Color grading must be destroyed.

Aside from the color grading, Wonder Woman (2017) made for an enjoyable film whose issues weren't big enough to hurt it. It waltzed through all the appropriate tropes with a diverse cast of characters. The general arc was one where Diana goes from idealist to worldly wise, where the world goes from black and white to shades of gray. I guess that color grading helped show that, with Themiskyra, a place in rich color, while the world of humans was washed out, less clear, less distinction between good and evil.

The inherit issue of the film was that it had to power up Wonder Woman through the entire movie, enough for the audience to get her powering up, but not enough for us to explore where we were or enjoy where we are. And those places where she was? I really liked those places. A non-Superman powered Wonder Woman in World War One London had the making of a fantastic series setting. I wanted more of that Wonder Woman, not less. The idealist in an imperfect world made for a great setup. As Wonder Woman continues powering up, we get another great setup, Wonder Woman with a real team, each character of which seems to have a story worth telling. But all these things get left behind to get her to apotheosis, to the ultimate Superman equivalent Wonder Woman. There's nothing wrong with that level, but I just didn't enjoy her as much when she was all powered up. That more human-level Wonder Woman seemed to have more story in her.

Powering up Wonder Woman is where the film worked well, because if that hadn't worked, the film would have sunk. We as the audience don't know just how powerful Wonder Woman will wind up, so every time we think that we've got how able she is, she exceeds herself and we notice. It's that dynamic of the predictable, followed by the unpredicted, that makes these sequences work so well. Those jumps give us a "whoah" moment.

Like most female written story, the romance turns hot in the middle of the story, not the end.

Steve Trevor generally worked, even with the power disparity. The usual story approach in such situations is to give the most powerful person a threat that can't be ignored, while another terrible problem is brewing which the less powerful people must handle, and they use that technique here effectively. He's also the morally stronger of the two leads because he knows the stakes far better than she. To her, the stakes are about Ares, a pure win, but to him, the stakes are about people.

The film got to breathe as well, to step back from its mayhem and enjoy the characters as characters. This was important to us, the audience, to get to know everyone, and important to Diana to connect with the outside world, to learn that gray existed in inexhaustible supply, where even the good guys did bad things. 

Despite this, there's so much forgettable about this film. It's an entertaining few hours, but I already don't remember large stretches of it. It thrilled me while it showed, but it didn't stick with me. 
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I think that I can finally articulate one of my issues with the modern Mary Sue definition. Let's call the game, "7 Degrees of Mary Sue." Your job is to show that a character is a Mary Sue, pick your reasoning, any reasoning. I bet that a skilled person in this game could turn Hellen Keller into a Mary Sue through good rhetoric. And that, my friends, is the problem. Turning any character into a Mary Sue is the rhetorical game, one open to all the abuses of rhetoric. 

Weekend

Oct. 10th, 2017 08:37 am
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This weekend's bread came out far better than last weekend's bread. Adding in more whole wheat seems to be sucking down more water, so I figured a way to add in more water as I knead, which means that I'm under-adding water now where before it was perfect. I got the loaf to come out nice this time by changing how I shaped it after the first rising, then it came out a tad crusty from the toaster oven, resting as far down as it could go. 

So, the toaster oven can work in a pinch.

I found that I can solve my gas oven problem by operating the burners. The gas will kick on and the stove will relight. Weird. I haven't solved that yet.

On Sunday night, the family huddled together for Wonder Woman. I found the film a bit frustrating because they'd do a good setup, then leave it to power up Wonder Woman. I want a TV series of Wonder Woman in WWI London. 
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I had a lucid dream on Saturday night. That happens every so often. I realize that I'm dreaming and usually cop a feel on the nearest girl, and then lose the lucidity in 1-2 minutes. This time, the lucid dream went on, and on, and on. I copped a feel and kissed one girl, and another, and another, before wandering off to different parts of the dream, still lucid. I must have been lucid for 10-15 minutes. I'd found the zone.

I can only bend a lucid dream so far, so I know how to back off. I did try for lucid dreaming sex, but the pieces just wouldn't go there.

The dream wasn't all sexy time. Like all dreams, it wandered all over, with me observing. I'm always in awe how my brain can come up with a working Rube Goldberg machine on the fly, and fill rooms with infinite levels of detail. At one point, I was watching two Godzillas fight outside the window (but I wasn't afraid because i knew this was a dream), when I thought it funny that a roar could be like Godzilla getting off during sex. Don't ask me what a Godzilla blow job would look like. It was only an idea that I came up with while watching the scene.

I suppose that you could call my lucid dreaming escapades rapey, which is a fair take on the matter, but as all the pleased women were generate by my brain, that makes the issue of consent rather circular. I take it as more self-permissioned and self-accepting. The thing about lucid dreaming is that you say to yourself, "It's a dream. I'm scott free of consequences." Those two go together. With my own permission to indulge, I indulge.
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When I first read Moreta (1983) by Anne McCaffrey, I was quite a fan and very excited for that new Pern book. I had read The White Dragon thirteen times. Yet, Moreta failed to move me at all. McCaffrey, who could do no wrong, had produced a fairly bland book that I didn't care for. First she produced Dragondrums with Piemur as the lead character, and now this.

This should have been a rocking good book. It should have given us all the excitement of The Ballad of Moreta's Ride. Instead, I found tedium.

McCaffrey wrote the book during the Reagan revolution and the AIDS crisis. It was a time that we seemed to be going backwards rather than forwards, and that many now feared a slow and invisible disease that always killed. 

On rereading, I can see how this novel disappointed me. It's a novella that been fluffed into a novel. There's just not enough story here to sustain an entire work. It starts excruciatingly slow, progressing along with shallow ups and down, then peters off into something resembling an ending. I found little to pull me into the work, and even less to sustain me along. 

The Pern of the past is a Pern that we recognize, filled with people just as dumb and hard headed as those in the future. (Dumb and hard headed people are the bane of Pern's existence.) It's pretty much the same place, just with different characters. In that, Anne wasted a huge opportunity, because the past gave us a chance to see a different Pern, rather than just shuffled deck chairs. They knew a few things that the future didn't, but they are astonishingly dumb about what they do remember. Really? The healers forgot basic immunology? Are you kidding me?

The biggest problem of the work is a brand new, expansive set of lead characters, most of whom we don't care about and never care about. They're all part of an explosion of names that hits our eyeballs as all proper historical epics should have, which makes the narrative more a documentation of what happened rather than the story of a few characters in a turbulent time. Because of this, the story lacks quite a bit of emotional resonance, quit a bit of emotional arc. Almost all characters exist in the here and now, having no sort of arc whatsoever. I can't say that Moreta has grown, changed, or overcome anything in any meaningful way through the course of the entire work.

In theory, I ought to have felt concern for the runner beasts and the great herds getting wiped out, as their fate will influence Pern's future, but the horses only really matter in the beginning and at the end. In between, they're absent so completely that I completely forgot about them and their fate. 

The work sets up a lackluster romance between Moreta and Allessan, lacking all the tension that makes a great romance, and pretty much lacking in all the tension that makes a mediocre romance as well.

One would think that the tale of Moreta's Ride would begin with a crisis, push the planet to the brink, and with great courage, one queen rider takes responsibility to do what must be done, ultimately sacrificing herself for the good of the world. It's a well known story arc, one that works. Yet, McCaffrey gives a wandering tale, where the worst of the crisis is seemingly over, yet there must be one last push for vague reasons that really don't hang together, resulting in a death for our protagonist that's rather more anti-climactic than courageous. If she had been a day or two later, people would have died, but the population was no longer in immediate jeopardy.

We see a bit of Nerilka's story, but not enough to matter. Her appearance in the book feels rather more forced that organic. As a reader, she had a feeling of being inserted in despite the narrative.

Anne got a little braver about homosexuality. Rather than hinting at the relations between men, she has a clear homosexual couple as secondary characters. That was pretty brave and daring as far as Anne goes, appearing at a time when the AIDS crisis was hitting and the young generation was learning how to accept homosexuality rather than beat it up. It's also from a time where preachers said that AIDS was a punishment from God.
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I'm waiting for the winter trailers to drop. Where are they? Huh? Huh! I wanna wanna wanna see them. 
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The incident in Las Vegas demonstrates why carrying a gun is not about self defense. As it turns out, bad guys with guns think about what they're doing to get maximum advantage. What good is a Colt M1911 against a guy shooting an automatic weapon out of a building? The incident demonstrates that guns do not defend you. If everyone in that concert had been carrying a semi-auto assault rifle, many would still have died because the attacker gave himself every advantage.

In order for guns to really work, you need the right weapon in the right situation, which is why the Army mixes different weapons into its infantry companies. There is no one perfect weapon, and its simply untenable to live while carrying every possible weapon. The only true weapon that we have against violence is a civil society, one which creates reasonable laws that walk the line between freedom and the good of all. 

Socks

Oct. 2nd, 2017 08:54 am
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I'm wearing socks today, damn it. And shoes. I've been in sandals since May.  Damn it. I don't wanna wear shoes.

Hack a Yard

Oct. 2nd, 2017 08:39 am
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My yard hackage continues.

Not so much hacking as pulling, I yanked up about half the red cement border thingies that protected my bush beds. Their main job is to nick my mower blade, so after years of grousing, I pulled half of them out. Maybe next weekend I'll pull out the other side. We've got a whole bunch. I'm storing the leftovers on one of the side beds that always gets overgrown, conveniently killing anything living there.

I did start pulling some weeds, but I noticed that they were blooming and honey bees were swarming them, which earned them a reprieve because I'm all for honey bees.

My daughter was out at a sleepover, so Jenny and I wandered off to First Farmers to try their fare and have a cozy little date. And it was a Cozy Little Date in capital letters. It was a total throwback to our singler days, a reminder of why we worked so well together. That was nice.

My daughter wound up with a dangling AppleJack, which she didn't want because she not into ponies any more, so I took it and hung the toy from my mirror. 

My daughter's also been busy watching doll hacking videos, both in terms of remaking them and making clothes for them. She and my wife ran off to a nearby doll store for supplies. This is cool stuff. They're pulling off heads, repainting scalps, pulling out hair, and essentially recreating the doll.

At church, I've been getting pulled over to youth group, and they've been fun to hang with. They're a great bunch of kids, and I'm enjoying getting to know or reknow them (especially since they've each gotten older on me). 

I made a cranberry bread this week, this time without a loaf pan, in the toaster oven. I killed the recipe when I forgot to put the egg in and put the oil in late, ruining the liquid balance. The loaf never really rose, so baked rather dense, with too much liquid remaining inside even though it was short on liquid. I think that the heading elements sealed up the top too quickly, so next time I'm going to take the bottom rack out of the toaster oven to get another inch of clearance. On cutting the loaf open this morning, it was definitely still too moist, but otherwise okay.
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My inky map of Endhaven.

Endhaven Inky Style Map
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I went into Batman vs Superman (2017) expecting an agonizing film experience. The talk of how utterly bad it was convinced me that I was in for agony. A-GONE-EE. And that's what I wanted and expected, because I'm a veteran of bad genre cinema and I know how to take my coffee black, but what I found did not meet my low expectations. 
 
In most ways, I found the film a middle of the road action blockbuster, with all the messiness and Hollywoodisms that that entailed. The idea mostly worked, but had problems. The plot mostly worked, but had problems. The motivations sometimes worked, and sometimes didn't, but mostly stumbled along just well enough to get you where you were going. The plot was too big, the number of plot lines too numerous, and the number of dangling thread too copious, but not so much that the plot turned into mud.
 
Mostly, the film had a zen quality to it, an evenness in tone and intensity that barely varied from one end to the other. Beat followed beat followed beat like a man walking down the street, occasionally interrupted by stepping off the curb or moving around someone, but always, the steady beat returned.
 
As of this date, 6,450 reviews on Amazon rank the film as follows:
5s 38%
4s 18%
3s 14%
2s 12%
1s 18%
 
A full 50% of the viewers rated the film as 4 stars or better, and 50% as 3 starts or better. That's not great, especially for a $100 million+ film, but it's also not worst film of the decade territory. We could say that they're wrong or they're ignorant, but that numbers too big to blame on bad. No, there's got to be something to why many find this film entertaining, while others don't.
 
This film was all over the place, filled with many good ideas, but those ideas competed with each other rather than complicated each other. The film raised many good question, answering none, then bringing up more good questions. The film had character arcs obscured by other characters arcs. The film had metaphors stacked on metaphors, some of which punched in you in the face, while others paced quietly in the background. Because of this, you were either paying attention to the film as an active participant, or you weren't. If you were paying attention, you put together all the unsaid pieces in your head before the film told you (or didn't), but if you weren't actively participating, if you weren't busy managing all the data coming at you, then the film would degenerate into a series of nonsensical scenes barely connected by something self-identifying as a plot.
 
For the watcher, this is no casual film, which is the exact opposite of what you'd expect from a super-hero blockbuster.
 
I found Superman and Batman's arc interesting. How does Batman (and thus, in extension, how do we, the audience) see Superman? Is he a god, an alien, or a hero? The much maligned "Martha" line uttered by Superman is the key to the entire arc, and possibly the entire film. By itself, it's stupid, but in the arc, it's the hinge on which Batman changes his understanding of Superman. "Martha" is Superman's mother, and a mother makes Superman not a god, not a devil, and not an alien, but a human in a hero's outfit. Martha is the name of both their mothers, both Bruce and Clark, meaning that those two share a common humanity. It's exactly this moment, when Batman stops seeing Superman as god, that he can accept Superman as human rather than an invader or a ruler.
 
I found Lex Luthor interesting as his character was always performing. For most of the film, I interpreted Lex as a person who was always on stage, where everything that he said and everything that he presented was an act. This made all his characterizations and grandiose statements make far more sense, because they weren't there to make sense, they were there to look good and distract you from his real intentions. Even in the end, when he acted insane, was that an act? Lex liked asked questions and providing no answers. Even at the end, you don't know. In the end, the law shears him of his good looks, revealing him as the skin head as he'd always been. Racist. Fascist. Zealot.
 
What I never quite understood was Lex's motivation. I could see how getting rid of Superman and Batman would allow him free reign of the world, but that is the one point where I as the audience needed to know his motivation and stakes. They weren't forthcoming. So why did Lex put out all that effort? Why did he bet everything? It's not space aliens taking over the world that we should be looking at, it's the worst of us that aspire to be god kings. 
 
Considering that all modern villains seek to take over the world, this is no large leap of faith. It's more like jumping off a curb. The trope is so well used that its presence could just be assumed.
 
Batman had an arc to go through, one that begin with being a lone and abusive vigilante into being a team leader. That arc didn't work so well. But through the course of the film, Superman taught him how to be a new sort of hero, one that he hadn't been before. Before Superman, Batman took down criminals because vengeance, because the world is brutal, and there's nothing good about it, but by the end, he sees the world as worth saving and protecting.
 
All these themes and plotlines, and there are so many themes and plotlines, come at a price. What's important gets lost in a sea of other things that are important, meaning that very little gets the screen time and development that it begs for. The film sets out with a incredibly full agenda, so much so that a single film struggles to handle the whole enchilada. Even incredibly well written, producing this film would have been a challenge, so any issue in the script or design gets amplified because, requiring even more screen time or feeling hollowed out because the screen time isn't there.
 
The film itself beated more like a comic book than a work of cinema. I think that this is the biggest issue. The film does too good of a job homaging the source material. In a comic book, these fight scenes would have worked, these plot twists would have worked, this character development would have worked. They were appropriate to the medium. For film, these beats don't quite land the same. 
 
So in its tendency to almost work in so many ways, but to not quite work in any of them, the film feels far worse than it really is. And because what's bad isn't pervasively bad, but merely annoying, the bad slides by pretty quick. Much of the audience says "okay" and moves on. In the end, you get either an entertaining film with numerous transient flaws, or a mass of transient flaws that override whatever else the film may provide.
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I don't know what to feel about Tender Is the Night (1933) by F. Scott Fitzgerald. To quote the Beatles, "It's a dirty story of a dirty man, and his clinging wife doesn't understand."
 
How far we've come from 1920 where kids fooling around was seen as scandalous, or the wife who turns out to have been virtuous the whole time while the husband wasn't. No, now literature has degenerated to the point where everyone is having affairs, EVEN WOMEN, and getting away with it. There's even mentions of (in a whisper) ho-mo-sex-u-als.
 
Who is this the story of? Is it the story of Rosaline, the young movie star? Of Dick, the socialite psychologist? Of Nicole, who seems well but really isn't? Of all three at the same time? I get the feeling that the novel was supposed to be about Rosaline, the young movie star, but as Fitzgerald's life wandered, so did this book. About a quarter of the way in, focus changed to Dick and Nicole and their challenged marriage. Although Rosaline shows up later, she's never the same presence is the book as she is in the beginning, making her place rather confusing.
 
Fitzgerald often has a simple overall idea behind his books, a game that he plays with structure or tone. He may have begun with an idea, but it's clear that his initial ideas were abandoned as he grew more interested in Dick and Nicole's story, which takes us through the remainder of the novel. Unfortunately, because we met so many characters through the eyes of Rosaline, when we get to the same characters later on, through the eyes of Dick or Nicole, we don't feel the same about them or their fates. I think that we could have followed all three characters, but the novel would have worked better if we had only switched between Dick and Nicole, following their scissoring paths.
 
That scissoring path is my best idea for a theme in this book. Dick is the well adjusted and healthy psychologist while Nicole is an unstable mental patient. By the end, Nicole has come into herself, fully realized herself as a person, while Dick has deteriorated into a weakened alcoholic. His moral weakness and his physical weakening go together. Yet, even that overall theme and trajectory doesn't quite fit, doesn't quite work.
 
This would be a terrific novel is Fitzgerald went back and rewrote the whole thing as a united piece rather than piecemeal. As it stands, I find it only a passable novel, where my own investment in the characters deteriorates as the novel progresses. By the end, I care for no one, find no joy in their character growths, and walk away without a fight, just like Dick.
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When my most recent car decided that using all 6 cylinders was optional, I decided to make it somebody else's problem, so I traded it in for a new car. I missed my Subaru desperately, so I went used car shopping with a list of wheel bases and a big list of possible cars, narrowing down what was available to something that would work better for me. With affordable wagons that aren't behemoths being so hard to find, I settled for a highly available sedan.

My primary criteria for purchase was that the car feel peppy, get good mileage, and excel at stop and go traffic. I eliminated anything too high end because giving myself power and handling just seemed like an exercise in frustration. My finances said I could pay under $200/mo. My savings and loan said they would lend me money at 1.74% but the model year had to be 7 years old or younger.

Out of that criteria came a Hyundai Sonata. I hadn't expected that I could get such a nice, good looking, good handling, peppy car for that price. I mean, the thing has been a grand pleasure considering the sub-$10k price tag. My wife's hatchback cost almost the same a few years back. Yet, here it was, a great sedan. My had the pearl white paint job along with heated seats and a few other bells. 

My particular Sonata has been sitting on the dealer's lot for a year suffering from bad car photography. I myself had passed over that car for sheer ugliness because of its two toned interior, but when I saw a Sonata like that in a parking garage, and saw that the color combo actually looked quite snazzy, I relented and looked at its wonderful reviews. It couldn't be all that, could it? It was.

I have found my Sonata a joy to drive, the exact opposite of recent sedans. I call it my poor man's sports car. It rides a little low, handles curves easily, accelerates well enough to feel it, and maintains modern highway speeds like a champ. What really makes me happy is that the car feels light off the mark, starting when you want it to start and stopping when you want it to stop. In a commute with innumerable lights and constant traffic, this single trait makes the car a joy. All that on an inline-4 engine that gets great mileage.

In terms of styling, I feel more like I'm in an 80's sporty car more than a sedan. That mid-00's uber-bland offend-nobody styling is gone, giving way to curved lines and aggressive yet cute looks, like a tough but sensitive boy band singer. It's got looks and attitude, but retains enough charm to make it onto magazine covers.

The Sonata's Selectronic transmission has proven useful to me. In general, the transmission is optimized for fuel economy, but there's enough times when you want more power, and that's where Selectronic really shines. Fortunately, the designers made the transmission work well for 90%+ of the time, so the technology works best for those edge cases. 

Headlights work great. Note that tail and turn lights aren't yet LED in this model, so if you want that, you'll have to replace them on your own.

The stereo is not up to audiophile levels, but it's not an embarrassment, so I see no need to replace it yet. The car isn't so quiet that road noise won't still compete with fidelity.  It plays MP3's just fine. I may replace the head unit with a GPS eventually, but as 95% of my driving is to known locations, that technology won't add much. "Oh, look, the road to work is totally packed with traffic again. Gee, what a surprise."

There's a few aspects about the car that I don't like. It idles so low that if you have the windows open, the pressure waves from the engine are a bit much, but maybe I have some defect that I don't know about.The pressure waves don't show up when you're rolling. The engine can be a bit louder than my old V6, and less smooth, but its perkiness is a more than welcome replacement. As a bonus, it sounds like my car is working when the extra power kicks in, which helps me pretend that it's a real sports car (never underestimate the power of the brrrr sound). If you change between braking and accelerating too quickly, the transmissions takes a few seconds to figure out that it should do something else, so you hit a power bottom-out unexpectedly.

I've taken the car both to the beach and camping, stuffing lots of cargo into the trunk. It's not as expansive as a full size trunk, and the hinges make packing a bit more challenging, but for 3-4 people, it works. If I had wanted a bigger trunk, I would have gotten a bigger car. I bottomed out only once, and that was on a well worn driveway, so the car isn't a great off roader, but most gravel roads and camping sites haven't been an issue.

For the most part, the car has been invisible to me. If want the car to go, I press the pedal, and it goes. Sweet. If I need it to go fast, it goes fast and doesn't mind. If I need it to accelerate, it complies.

I don't know how it handles snow yet. It may not matter if my local roads keep jamming with people and nobody gets to go anywhere. 

I like the layout of the dash. The designers kept themselves from going crazy with all kinds of new widgets, and that's great because it keeps the controls simple. I greatly oppose any design that distracts the driver. Even the environmental dials are big and easy to grab, and best of all, completely manual so you don't need to think to operate these controls. 

I tried the cooled seats once. I found the luxury gimmicky. Maybe I'll feel differently about heated seats in the winter, but I found the noise from the blown air more annoying than the cooling. If I have to wait for the warm air in the winter, that sort of gimmick seems pointless. On the other hand, if my wife loves it, then it's gold. We'll find out when Christmas travel rolls around.

An important note is that the Sonata was the least selling sedan of its model year, but that doesn't mean that it's a terrible car. If anything, it's a testament to the competition. The sedan market is hotly contested, and even last place is a surprisingly good value.
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When determining if a character is a Mary Sue, having a good set of metrics works well. If not, you wind up in a world of hurt.
 
For example, let's take a car that's a lemon. How do you identify one? Well, it has four tires and a steering wheel, which would imply that all cars are lemons because all cars have that feature. Maybe drivers like lemons?
 
You can see the logical error there, because the heuristics chosen are too broad. You'll get many false positives, making it look like far more cars are lemons than really are.
 
The same is true when determining if a character is a Mary Sue. The fact that Mary Sues are instantly liked does not mean that a character that is instantly liked is a Mary Sue. The fact that a Mary Sue solves problems instantly doesn't mean that a character that solves problems instantly is a Mary Sue.
 
Mary Sues are problem characters, ones that your audience doesn't like. They don't work for the reader. The problem in these characters are not single traits, which are often the same traits that work quite well in different character. No. What makes a Mary Sue is a combination of traits that creates a character unappealing to your reading audience in a particular way.
 
Mary Poppins would seem to be a Mary Sue, because she's practically perfect in every way. She exhibits almost every Mary Sue trait known to man, yet she's quite an entertaining character. Why? What makes a Mary Poppins work while a Mary Sue not work? (Aside from Julie Andrews, who could make just about any character work.) There must be something more to determining a Mary Sue than external traits.
 
In the film Mary Poppins, the entrance of Mary begins the story and her exit ends it. She may be perfect, but nobody else is. Her perfection highlights the imperfection of the other characters. She may be the title character, but the real story is the character arc of the family. It's the family that meaningfully grows and changes. There's both a character and a story.
 
With a Mary Sue, that character is practically perfect in every way, but that character is also the center of the story. Character growth from anyone is impossible because the Mary Sue occupies all important spaces, and then she decrees the answers. No character growth is necessary.
 
In short, Mary Poppins causes the disruption which lead to character growth while a Mary Sue removes the problems which lead to character growth. 
 
dmilewski: (Default)
I've been working on a map for Crystal Hope. I aimed this design to look good on monochrome devices, such as ereaders. The land mass is a traced cloud from a photo shoot while camping at Cunningham Falls.

This is a map for Crystal Hope in development.

Weekend

Sep. 25th, 2017 02:57 pm
dmilewski: (Default)
I mowed the lawn this weekend, and continued my epic trek into our overly wild wildlife zone.

Somehow, we have figs this year. I picked five that the deer hadn't found.

The "fixed" oven isn't fixed, once again losing its ability to maintain temperature. So, I don't know yet what I'll do about that. (It must either be the thermometer or the control board.) However, my experiment with baking bread in the toaster oven worked by putting the bread pan between the two lower coils. The bottom didn't get done quite enough, and the top got a little dark, but otherwise it worked. Getting it out afterwards was hell. It fell over and I couldn't get it up because oven mitts just couldn't grip well enough.

If I want a toaster oven good for bread, I want a convection oven that can do rotisseries. I don't care about the rotisserie part, I just care that the oven is tall enough to bake bread.

Or I could buy a proper oven that works again. Not cheap, but not crazy expensive. 

Or maybe I can bake without a bread pan. That'll be a fun exploration, but it won't work as well in the toaster because of its odd shape.

With the summer being over, we had our first pot luck of the autumn. Too much cheesy goodness emerged as our hostess cooked with lots of cheese. Otherwise, the food was good and I didn't go hungry. 

I've been working on a map for my latest writing projects, and I hope to show it soon. I've got it looking pretty good in monochrome. 

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