winterbadger: (pooh tao)
It seems hard to believe that I haven't updated this list since October. I'm fairly sure I'll have missed out some titles as a result. But it also seems likely that I've not come close to matching last year's total of 48, let alone my goal of 50. But looking back over the years since I started keeping track here (in 2008), I've only once hit 50 and many years not reached 40, so 42 or so seems adequate. I don't know whether it's because I pick long books, or read slowly, or what. I certainly have a lamentably short attention span, so I flit back and forth between things.

The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon by John Ferling (36) This really deserves an entry of its own. Let's just say that Ferling does a great job of pulling off the heaps of laurel and waving off the clouds of incense and letting the very human Washington stand out.

John Macnab by James Buchan (37) An adventure tale by an accomplished tale-spinner, this story of three "gents" roughing it to play a prank on landlords in the Highlands is entertaining for its story, for its loving view of the geography of the Highlands, and for its portrayal of Scots and English (and some dreadful American) 'types' seen through the eyes of a Scots minister's son who rocketed upwards through Oxford and the diplomatic service to the governor-generalship of Canada.

Dodger (38) and The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett (39) One non-Discworld and one (final) Discworld volume by the master. Entertaining and educational in equal measure.

The Complete Rainbow Orchid by Garen Ewing (40): A graphic novel of pulp adventure in the style (artistically and literarily) of Herge's Tintin. I'd read sections for free online and eventually treated myself to a hard copy of the entire book. It's very fun if you don't take it seriously.

The California Voodoo Game by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes (41) A re-reading, and another of those where one sees the imperfections of a book one loved blindly at the time. Niven and Barnes sexism is off-putting, almost repellent, in a way that is clearly still popular among the Gamergate/Sad Puppy crowd. That said, it's an entertaining story combining RPG, sci-fi, and detective genres.

Penric's Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold (42) An entertaining tale (really a novella) of a young man in a medievalesque fantasy setting. I'll certainly read the others of its ilk.

Still in progress:

With Zeal and Bayonets Only by Matthew Spring
The Philadelphia Campaign: Brandywine and the Fall of Philadelphia by Thomas J. McGuire
Queen Victoria's Book of Spells Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy
Little, Big by John Crowley
Eastward to Tartary by Robert B. Kaplan
Boderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine by Anna Reid
Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby
winterbadger: (RockyMountain)
Not sure which of these signs makes me happier

this one

this one

or this one.

Heck, just seeing this restaurant, perched up on its hillside in NY over I-87, makes me smile.
winterbadger: (loch tay)
A tale about Cromarty Harbour

As some who follow my travels knows, when I looked for the Cromarty-Nigg ferry, it was absent. At the time, I and my travelling companion were told that the absence was permanent, but it seems that the ferry has been reinstated. There are references in their guestbook from 2011 to "the new ferry", so the cash must have come through after all!
winterbadger: (glasgow)
I heard this piece about Scots today on the radio in the car.

And I smiled all the way home, thinking, "For the next year, maybe more, I get to hear people like this every day."

It really made me very happy.
winterbadger: (guitar)
There's been lots of cool stuff (and not so cool stuff) been going on that I need to blog about, but that will have to wait until I have more time. For right now, I want to just quickly mention that the Proclaimers concert at the Birchmere last night was bloody awesome!

Opening for them was a local signer-songwriter, Owen Danoff. I really liked his lyrics, his tunes, and his self-effacing tuning chats :-). He's doing some more local events soon, including a date at Jammin Java on the 27th, a Habitat for Humanity benefit early next month, and he's opening for another player's CD release at Iota early in May.

The Proclaimers were there usual wonderful selves. They were playing acoustic this time, but they were just as excellent as with full electronics. They played all the songs I could have wished for, including several special Maggie Thatcher commemorative songs (Letter From America, Throw the R Away, Cap in Hand, and the scathing In Recognition, with a special introduction praising the institution of the House of Lords in their own inimitable way). But it wasn't all angry music; they played lots of romantic stuff like Let's Get Married, Then I Met You, and their classic I'm Gonna Be. To the delight of quite a few Hibs supporters in the audience (yes, even here), they played Sunshine on Leith. They played Joyful Kilmarnock Blues and the rockin' I'M Gonna Burn Your Playhouse down. And they played some pieces from their new album (which I haven't gotten yet), including Women and Wine and Spinning Around in the Air.

I love these guys: I love their no-nonsense sets ({finish song} "Thank you. That was... Now we're going to play..." {start new song}). I love the passion of their music and the depth and feeling of their lyrics. And I love, love the sound of their voices, both when singing and the burr of their Fife-y speech when talking. Makes me miss Scotland so much.
winterbadger: (glass_standrew)

My own Thatcher remembrance, with thanks to Ronnie Brown and the late Roy Williamson.

Annotated lyrics :-) )

winterbadger: (loch tay)
This is a freakin' scary image.  (from this very cool blog)

snipped for image )
winterbadger: (scotrail)
Having mentioned it, I should explain. I'm applying to two GIS programs:

one in Edinburgh

and one in Glasgow.

This is partly because I need a little more time to decide which direction I want to go with a research degree in history (my ultimate goal) and because I think having not just training but actual academic credentials in GIS would be good either for working in history or as a new career path of its own. It builds on what I already have (training and experience designing, building, and maintaining databases), some limited training and experience in GIS systems, and a lifetime love of maps (it was really a love of maps that got me into wargaming to begin with--the map-love came first).
winterbadger: (glass_standrew)
I've gotten simply an astonishing number of nice birthday wishes from folks on Facebook, which has been very cheering. I also got a lovely handmade birthday card and a hilarious present from The Nurse, which really made my day.

So, the cold having its odd depressive effect on my appetite, birthday dinner is a nice salad and some tea. :-) And to celebrate, since I was in the mood for something funny and romantic, I'm watching The Decoy Bride. Given that it has one of my massive crushes (Kelly Macdonald) as well as David Tennant and Hamish Clark (who I also adore and who, wow, lost a lot of weight since he was in Monarch of the Glen), I think it's likely to be the movie that the absolutely atrocious Made of Honor wanted to be when it grew up. Eleven minutes in, and they've already had me in stitches once (Elderly beldame to KM: "No throwing yourself at the men visitors, Katy. We don't want them thinking this is the Orkneys, where anything goes.")

After three days at home, I am getting stir crazy...

o rly?

Feb. 19th, 2013 07:32 am
winterbadger: (glasgow)
from the BBC

Have you ever dreamt of quitting your cushy job and starting a new life halfway around the world to follow your passion?

Jessica Fox, a Nasa employee in Los Angeles, decided one day to move to Scotland to live in a used bookshop.



On the face of it, that's quite impossible, so I'll be interested to see how she accomplished it.
winterbadger: (glass_standrew)
This is preposterous.

People living in the United States but born in and citizens of Venezuela were allowed to vote in the recent, contentious elections there. US citizens who live abroad are voting now in our (hopefully less danger-fraught but still contentious) elections next month. Those nice Venezuelan people, despite many of them having lived here for years, cannot vote in our presidential election (unless they have become dual nationals, which is not an easy thing to do, as the US disfavours that citizenship category).

But apparently, Scots-born persons who reside in the far-flung reaches of Carlisle or Berwick-on-Tweed will not be eligible to vote in the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, while all sorts of folk form Bangor, Ballymena, and Basingstoke who have an address in Dundee, Dunbar, or Dunfermline can help decide the fate of a nation they might not be citizens of.

The article suggests that "it's difficult to imagine how an electoral register of everyone who considered themselves a Scot might be drawn up." Well, yes, but then nations rarely leave it to personal preference to decide who is or is not a citizen (a fact that lies at the heart of pretty much all immigration debates). The most commonly adopted metric is whether one is born within the geographical boundaries of the state (usually to include any foreign dominions, if a country has such). There's no question what the borders of Scotland are. Anyone who claims UK citizenship presumably has a birth certificate that shows where they were born. Some substantial number are naturalised citizens; those cases, indeed, would need some sort of mechanism to adjudicate. But it was pretty easy for the authors of the BBC piece to state that around 400,000 non-Scots will get to vote int eh referendum, while 800,000 Scots will not. That, to my mind, is completely ridiculous.
winterbadger: (scotrail)
I stop off every other week to talk to my therapist in Bethesda. I always stop at the same car park, a county building called the Waverly garage.

I like to think of it as Waverly Station. :-)
winterbadger: (glass_standrew)
Given how much I like

cycling and

camping.

I've often thought of emulating Eric Newby's Round Ireland in Low Gear in Scotland. But in the 20+ years since he wrote it (I remember doing the book launch work for that...), someone else has probably hit on it.

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