- The Washington Post is speculating that writers/poets/creatives will be needed in Silicon Valley alongside coders and programmers, to build the personalities of the AI’s and virtual assistants of devices and apps. I’d never considered this part of development before, despite being delighted by Siri’s many quirks. Further proof that the humanities are still valuable and viable in our technologically sophisticated world!
- Speaking of humanities, although this article dates back to 2011, I only discovered it (via Tumblr) this past week, so I’m including it. Almost two million index cards to index a language! I love “dead” languages, and studied both Anglo-Saxon and Latin in college, for my medieval studies degree. The University of Toronto offers its own Dictionary of Old English, and offers free access (up to 20 log-ins per year) if you’d like to poke around.
- Buzzfeed posted suggested television shows for all the Hogwarts houses: Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, and Hufflepuff.
- April is National Poetry Month! This year is actually the twentieth anniversary of the event, which is pretty awesome. Along with reading more nonfiction, I always vow to read more poetry each year, and never seem to really get around to it. Still, I have gems by Matthew Dickman, Leigh Stein, and others sitting around, waiting to be read. Maybe I’ll try to get through at least one this month? (As a bonus, Powell’s is offering 15% off poetry books this month!)
- In honor of National Poetry Month, I’d like to suggest that you follow @Pentametron on Twitter if you don’t already. The account retweets various offerings from the Twitterverse to create bizarre and oddly charming iambic couplets. The internet truly is a magical place.
I’d say “April fools!” for being late a day, but, honestly, I just lost track of things. Sorry if this feels a little rushed as a result!
- March 28 to April 3 is Museum Week, with museums exploring seven themes during the week across social media with seven hashtags. As a bonus, MOMA’s post for Monday (#SecretsMW) led me to Jenny Holzer and her beautiful plaques, which I’m fairly certain I’d seen around the internet before, but never with a source attached.
- The Mini Museum is gorgeous, and if I had $300 to spend on non-necessities, I would pick one up in a heartbeat. I’ve always been in love with the Wunderkammer, the Cabinets of Curiosities that were the precursors to our modern museums, and this seems like the perfect pocket-sized version.
- Design Facts is a beautiful little internet slideshow of graphic design history, full of interesting quotes, peeks at logos, and facts and tidbits. (I had no idea that Salvador Dali designed the logo for the Chupa Chups lollipop company!)
- I have a lot of hobbies, and go through phases of being more or less interested in them. Embroidery is something I’ve done on-and-off since eighth grade, when I learned the basics of surface work. I’m currently way into it, deep in one counted cross-stitch project and flirting with another, while beginning a free embroidery sampler, to try and relearn some skills I’ve mostly forgotten. Two beautiful blogs that caught my eye are Wild Olive and Mr X Stitch. The first is a charming craft blog more in the adorable/cute range, with very good beginner tutorials. The second is more link-focused, sharing samples of embroidery work from around the world, including some gorgeous high fashion work.
- Who doesn’t want to be a Powerpuff Girl? Luckily, Cartoon Network has your back with a cute little website ahead of the new series reboot on April 4.
- This delicious (and fast) Smitten Kitchen recipe for baked eggs in a pasta-puttanesca-style tomato sauce. I love any kind of runny eggs on toast, but this is definitely on my must-make list. I love the salty, slightly tangy mix of garlic and capers and anchovies in puttanesca sauce, and I love recipes that come together in 15 minutes even more.
- I’m a sucker for maps of any kind, and pulp paperbacks, and library special collections, so this post from the UCLA Library Special Collections is a combination of three of my favorite things. (Alright, I’m also biased, it’s one of my alma maters.) In a related note, two of the gorgeous titles on my always-expanding “Books To Buy” list are Plotted: A Literary Atlas and Vargic’s Miscellany of Curious Maps. I adore data visualizations of any kind, but maps have a special place in my heart.
- This post on the Quirk Books Tumblr was adorable and made me think: what would be on my own geek coat of arms? Something in the SNES/16-bit graphics range, an assortment of polyhedral dice, something related to books (of course), and… probably something related to Pokémon.
- I’ve been doing hand embroidery on and off for years, and I never realized how many cute little accessories are available! (Maybe that was for the better…) I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of scissor fobs (which both keep your small embroidery scissors from slipping down the couch cushions, and help you identify them amongst identical brethren at stitch-ins), needle minders (to keep you from stabbing your needles into your embroidery fabric when you take a break), counting pins (which I’ve had need of countless times in the past), and various other bits and bobs. I’ve been so enamored, I may or may not have been looking up bead supply stores to get my craft on. (I might be making a not-so-quick stop here when I drive the boyfriend back to Seattle next weekend.)
- I’m still obsessed with crossword puzzles, and there’s been some interesting plagiarism scandal in the cruciverbalism world lately. FiveThirtyEight wrote a great piece about it, and Slate followed up with another piece a few days later. Slate also published a piece back in November of 2009 about how such a coincidence could potentially occur. (Spoiler alert: it’s incredibly unlikely to be coincidental more than 60 times, and almost entirely in one direction.)
- Madame Clairevoyant’s horoscopes for The Toast. I feel like I ought to preface this by saying, I’m not someone that actually believes in horoscopes. These are just so beautifully written, and so very positive, that it’s hard not to look forward to them each month.
- This tool for simulating the world with emoji. As a library/information science nerd, I’m a huge fan of data visualizations of all kinds. This is a great (and fun!) tool, and the intro page has a great/simple introduction to thinking in systems.
- I haven’t been around for a while, and this is a throwback to early February, but it seems worth mentioning that NPR live-tweeted the Super Bowl in haiku, which is the kind of sports coverage I can get behind. The Smithsonian also blogged about super(b) bowls throughout history.
- Speaking of museums, the Getty is killing it on Tumblr. Downloadable coloring sheets and Historical Serial are both fantastic. (And if you are ever in Los Angeles, you should make it a priority to visit the Getty Villa, which is easily the most beautiful museum I’ve ever spent an afternoon at. It also has free admission [though paid parking], though you need to book your ticket(s) online in advance.)
- I watched Indigenous recently, which is currently streaming on Netflix in the United States. It was a fairly good creature feature horror flick (I rated it three stars, and didn’t feel like I’d wasted an hour and a half of my life when it was over), but more interestingly, it taught me about the Darién Gap. I seriously thought the movie was making it up, but there really is a tiny patch of land, about 100 miles by 30 miles, that is the only gap in the Pan-American Highway. If it weren’t for this little patch of rainforest/swamp, you could drive from the tip of Alaska to the very bottom of Argentina. Fascinating!
Can we just take a moment to appreciate the glorious moment of alliteration above? Thank you.
I’m still unemployed, which means I have a lot of free time. More of it should be spent reading (particularly nonfiction, which I’ve [yet again] vowed to read more of as a resolution), or working on a cross-stitch project that was going to be a Christmas present (you’ll note it’s already February), but I’ve mostly been playing a lot of video games between filling out job applications. To make myself feel a little less bad about this, I’ve been listening to podcasts while I do so, so I decided to compile a list of my current favorites for this weeks Friday Fave Five.
- Smodcast — an oldie but goodie. Kevin Smith has always been one of my favorite directors, and his podcast with Scott Mosier (and other assorted guests) is fantastic. Smith and Mosier have been working together for years, and guests like Bryan Johnson and Walt Flanagan are folks he’s known for years. That kind of friendship easily shines through in the audio.
Standout episodes: Anything with Malcolm Ingram! Plus, don’t neglect to check out “Plus One,” which Kevin Smith hosts with his wife, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith.
- Welcome to Night Vale — It really is as amazing as everyone is claiming. There’s something about the surreal humor, and the odd blending of the totally absurd (dragons running for city council) with the kind of news you’d expect to hear on a small-town radio show: the opening of a new dog park, the rivalry between local basketball teams, and PTA meetings. I was lucky enough to meet the creators at the American Library Association’s annual summer conference last year (and grab an Advance Reader’s Copy of their novel), and Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor are super nice guys who deserve all the success they’ve received. Give it a listen!
Standout episodes: 19A and 19B, which tell the story of a mysterious sandstorm from the perspectives of both Night Vale and Desert Bluffs. Also, anything to do with the Night Vale Public Library, because they treat their librarians with the respect (alright, fear) the job demands.
- Lore — I love mythology and folklore and urban legends and ghost stories, and Lore is a glorious amalgamation of all of the above. Aaron Mahnke tells the stories of Jersey Devil, H.H. Holmes, and the Werewolf of Bedburg beautifully, not shying away from the fascinating (and occasionally lurid) details, but making sure to accompany them with detailed research (which fans can learn more about on the show website).
Standout episodes: Episode 10, Steam & Gas, is about the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, part of the inspiration for The Shining by Stephen King. You can still book a room at the Stanley Hotel, and I’d love to stay there someday!
- 99% Invisible — A great little podcast all about the things we don’t usually think about. 99% Invisible is part of the Radiotopia network, which has a lot of other podcasts that could have made this list (including Song Exploder, Mortified, and The Allusionist, a fantastic podcast about the English language, including a fun episode about crossword puzzles). I’ve been skipping around and listening to the episodes with topics that interest me, and a lot of them feature cute after-credits moments with host Roman Mars’ son. As a bonus, a lot of the older episodes clock in under 20 minutes, which means it’s easy to sneak a dose of learning into your day.
Standout episodes: #13 on maps, #14 on the periodic table, #181 on milk carton kids, and #183 on the Dead Letter Office of the US Postal Service.
- Ancestor (Scott Sigler) — For the most part, I go for nonfiction when it comes to my podcasts, but the format also lends itself well to serialized fiction. Scott Sigler writes great science-fiction/horror novels, and while he has gone on to produce many of them as printed books (my last library owned some of his work!), he’s left them available as podcast downloads as well. Ancestor is a great story of genetic modification gone wrong, and well worth a listen.
I’m flying home tomorrow to finish packing up my stuff to move into an actual bedroom — can I even put into words how excited I am to not be sleeping on a couch anymore? As a result, I’ve been doing a little bit of shopping. Mostly for necessities (blackout drapes since the new bedroom has a light right outside one of the windows, etc.), but I’ve found a few little trinkets to brighten up the space.
- How freaking adorable is this little unicorn light? It’s about 5″ tall and powered by 3 AAA batteries, so it’s not tethered to an outlet, which means I can juggle it between sitting on top of my PC tower and on my nightstand. And look at its tiny, stubby little legs! There’s a giant version as well, with color-changing lights inside, but it’s genuinely giant (about 20″ tall), so I think this little fellow will be fine for my purposes.
- Ikea makes pretty wall stickers, including these gorgeous poppies! They’re pretty tall, at about twenty inches, and maybe a little bright to have out on view all the time, but I might tuck some on the wall behind the door, for a hidden little burst of California up here in the watery northlands.
- I’m a big fan of lounging in bed. I don’t have a couch or a big fluffy armchair or another lazy spot in my bedroom, so the bed it is. Sometimes a girl needs a place to steady a glass of (red) wine and a plate of treats, though — particularly when her bedside table is overflowing with half-empty Diet Coke cans and unread books. (Ahem.) I haven’t quite decided on a design yet, but I like the warmth of wood, and this pretty model below is reversible, meaning you can use it as pictured, or flip it over. (I also kind of like the indent on this particular version, to help prevent items from sliding off.)
- It might be time to upgrade from the plain white bath mats I’ve been using my entire life in the bathroom. Urban Outfitters has some really cute designs, and while some reviews say they’re a bit thin, I think slipping a memory foam bottom pad underneath will solve that problem.
- This last one would be quite a splurge at two hundred dollars, but Bose makes a lovely wireless speaker system that at about 8.5″ x 5.5″ is perfectly sized for a nightstand. (And I will have TWO of those in my new bedroom. Twice the bedside real estate!) It’s probably somewhat unnecessary (I have Bose desktop speakers for my computer, and the room isn’t really large enough to justify speakers twenty feet apart), but it would be really nice for movies on the iPad in bed (hooray, Bluetooth!), drifting off to audiobooks, and bopping around to Taylor Swift.
- I’m finally getting plans sorted in Oregon. I’ll still be sleeping on a couch for a couple weeks (minus a weekend in Seattle with the boyfriend), but I’ve finally allowed myself to start making plans about furniture, and I think one of these Ikea KALLAX units is going to be in my near future. It will be nice to have tiny cubes to separate out themed stacks of books (poetry, cryptography, crossword puzzles) and maybe display a few treasured trinkets.
- I unabashedly love Pokémon, even at 26 years old, and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the franchise, there is a huge mythical/event giveaway across the year. The game does not require you to collect event Pokémon to complete the Living Pokédex, but their absence has nagged me for awhile. It will be nice to finally 100% this project!
- It was a rough week, losing both David Bowie and Alan Rickman within four days of each other. On January 11, a few friends and I re-watched Labyrinth, which I absolutely adored as a child. Some childhood movies are terrible when you re-watch them as an adult, but I’m happy to report that Labyrinth is not one of these.
- One of the most beautiful and heart-breaking things I read this week was a piece from The New York Times this week by Lucy Kalanithi, “My Marriage Didn’t End When I Became a Widow.” It’s a gorgeous piece about the death of her neurosurgeon husband, Paul Kalanithi, whose memoir was published this week. Lucy’s article is fairly short, but her 16 paragraphs brought me to tears.
- On a lighter note, can we talk about candles? I am not a candle person, but one of the girls I just moved in with is utterly obsessed with Yankee Candles. I appreciate some of their scents (I like the fruity ones, and the one that smells like freshly cleaned laundry), but find the designs really unattractive. I think I would like to buy some candles for my new room/bathroom, though. Lucky, I found some bookish alternatives from Paddywax, UncommonGoods, and Frostbeard Studio. Paddywax, pictured below, probably makes the most beautiful of the three, but all have some fantastic scent options.
Sometimes I think the best part of the new year is a fresh planner. There’s something… promising about all those blank pages. And what better way to start out the new year than with resolutions? I had some fun playing around with my stamps (with a little bit of smudging), and have the best of intentions… like I do every year.
I’ve also been using the weekly vertical pages to track the “metadata” of my week: three bits about the day, wake-up time, location, temperature and weather, steps taken according to the FitBit, spending (debit/cash), water intake (yes, I need to work on this), and food consumed. Taken altogether, they provide a pretty good overview of my day-to-day life.
I can go into more detail about the day, or affix business cards and other flat ephemera, on the daily pages. If they’re blank, I use them for note-taking, list-making, or artistic experimentation. The month pages are a combination of forward planning and reminders of big events, birthdays, and such, and backwards decoration and reminders of fun things that happened that day.
- I moved! And it gets a lot colder in Oregon than it does in California. I guess I’ve never seen the hail illustration on my weather widget on my (Mac) dashboard before? It’s charming, and so very bouncy. (Also, it’s cold in this state, and it has already SNOWED twice since I’ve been here. Brr! Time to buy some new scarves.)
- Taylor Swift released a new music video! It came out on December 31, so I guess I’m a little bit behind the times.
- This is from 2014, but it popped up on my Tumblr feed recently, and it’s just gorgeous. I’m really into analog mail (despite being months late to write back to my pen-pal, oops), and love sending friends postcards and packages. Who doesn’t love getting something that isn’t junk mail or a bill? A brilliant confetti package like this would leave me smiling all day long, and unlike most DIY projects on the internet, seems actually do-able, with clear sticky contact paper and confetti.
- We’re a little late for the beginning of the year, but I took New Year’s Day off, so this will have to do. “How to Be Perfect” by Ron Padgett is an excellent poem to start off 2016 with — and don’t worry, it doesn’t even read like a poem. There’s also the beginning of a charming illustrated version by Jason Novak in The Paris Review this week, but only the first ten lines are done so far, so be sure to read the text version for the whole thing.
- President Obama wrote a beautiful op-ed for The New York Times on gun violence and gun control/reform in the United States. It is worth a read.
Merry Christmas! We’re an early morning Christmas family, so I’ve been done since around 12:30 this afternoon — which is good, because I’m also spending the day doing laundry and packing for my drive up to Oregon tomorrow! I’m very excited to start this next phase of my life, to finally be living in a city with friends physically around me instead of just online. Speaking of which, that brings me to the first of my fave five this week:
- I am so excited to be living close to Andina, which is a fantastic Peruvian restaurant in the Pearl District in Portland. I adore Peruvian food, but there aren’t a ton of restaurants around. Delicious lomo saltado anytime I want it? Yes, please! (As a bonus, it is within easy walking distance from Powell’s City of Books, so you can walk off those alfajores and truffles after the meal.)
- The picross games (which apparently are a type of puzzle called a nonogram) on the 3DS are pretty fun! There is also a new Pokémon Picross game out that adds some interesting themed mechanics. Also interesting? I was unaware of Nintendo’s “freemium” model, which they refer to (more accurately) as “free-to-start” rather than “free-to-play.” There is a real-world currency cap, hovering somewhere around $32 USD, after which you don’t need to pay for anything else. The game makes the picrites (their purchasable token) free at that point. This seems like a fair compromise to me.
- Need more nonograms? Britain’s GCHQ has you covered. They created a puzzle challenge that starts with a 25 x 25 (!) grid. Have at it! I enjoy these puzzles, but I’m a little slow at them… I think a grid this large would take me until next Friday to complete.
- Because I don’t already have enough giant cross-stitch patterns to work on, I found this amazing Gen 1 pattern with all of the original 151. I’m vowing to finish the first LTTP world map first, but I might at least start this colorful beauty before beginning on the Dark World map redux.
- A blog post that’s an old favorite of mine, from 2009, on “the week of being still.” Brooke Reynolds writes about it at the beginning of the holiday season, but I think of it this last week of the year, between Christmas and the New Year. The rush of Thanksgiving and Christmas is over, and it’s the perfect time to finish setting up and filling in birthdays and other important dates in your new calendar/planner, or to come up with your resolutions for the New Year (which I diligently vow and never fulfill).
Sorry for the quickly dashed off, image-less list, but I’d rather take the extra time to finish packing, and cram in a bit more time with my family before heading out at five in the morning tomorrow (oof). Happy holidays, and enjoy the last bit of 2015!