A Grammar of the Film

Just opened up A Grammar of the Film, by Raymond Spottiswoode, and was amused by some bits of the preface. The book was written and published around 1935, but this edition was published in 1950, with a rather self-deprecating preface by the author, who refers to his younger self in the third person. Some bits […]

On dragons and flight

In Delany’s world of Nevèrÿon, dragons can glide if they jump from a ledge, but they can’t take off from the ground. In the opening chapter of Neveryóna, fifteen-year-old Pryn has just flown on dragonback, but the dragon landed in a clearing instead of on a ledge, so it won’t be able to take off […]

Replacing doorknobs

About four months ago, I went to Orchard Supply Hardware for their going-out-of-business sale and bought (among other things) three sets of Kwikset lever-style door handles. (Specifically, Balboa style, in Venetian Bronze finish.) There was nothing wrong with the brass-ish round knobs on the doors in my house, but I found these levers much prettier. […]


I keep seeing articles suggesting that it’s universally understood that Star Trek: Discovery wasn’t very good in the first season, and/or that it’s generally disliked by fans. Which makes me sad, because I loved the first season (and am continuing to love the second season so far). It continues to be my favorite Trek series […]

Pandemic: Fall of Rome

Kam and I played our first game of Pandemic: Fall of Rome yesterday. Pretty interesting. We won fairly easily, on Introductory difficulty, and got a better sense of how the game works. Will play again. A couple of notes: It was very unclear to me from the advertising materials that the goal of the game […]

Comcast adds popups to web pages

For the past few days, I’ve been getting what I assumed were random fake popup ads about Xfinity when I visit various web pages. But it turns out they weren’t fake, and they weren’t ads. Turns out there are two things I didn’t know about my cable internet service: It’s a limited data plan. If […]

Jim’s visit + roundsing

Jim was in town this week. Good visit—played various boardgames, went through some Puzzled Pint puzzles (you can download past puzzle sets from their archives), chatted about stuff, went to the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum, had a roundsing. Even though I’ve lived in this area for most of my life, I didn’t know the […]

10…08 is divisible by 18

I recently had occasion to learn that 108 and 1008 are both divisible by 18. Which led me to wonder whether any integer consisting of 1 followed by some number of 0s followed by 8 is divisible by 18. And in fact it turns out to be, and I came up with two fun proofs […]


About five hours from now, the winter solstice will arrive in the northern hemisphere. (And the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere.) This is my usual reposting of two winter-solstice verses. First, from T. S. Eliot‘s “Burnt Norton” (1935): At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; […]

Parrot Mambo Fly quadcopter

My latest toy is a Parrot Mambo Fly mini-drone. I found it in a Wirecutter article about best inexpensive drones, and ordered it from Amazon (via the Wirecutter affiliate link). And I love it. I’m a near-total beginner; my only previous drone experience consisted of (1) a tiny drone I bought in the UK years […]

Gone to Soldiers

Marge Piercy’s 800-page non-sf WWII novel Gone to Soldiers (published in 1987) has been sitting unread on my bookcase for some time. I don’t recall when I bought it, but I’m pretty sure the only reason I did is that I very much liked Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time. But anything over about […]