Thursday, May 11, 2017

More Recent Reading

Over the past few days I've read a few new works of fiction. Henry Vogel's The Fugitive Snare is an action-packed sci-fi thriller, the third in a series. I found it just as hard to put it down as the first two in the series. I definitely recommend it. The other novel was Pam Uphoff's Fort Dinosaur, the sixth volume in her Directorate series. It was also a lot of fun.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Recent Reading

I haven't quite been up to writing reviews lately, but here's a quick list of what I've been reading lately.

I practically devoured J. L. Curtis' Rimworld: Into the Green on Sunday. Both Sarah Hoyt and Peter Grant had posted links to it on their respective blogs. I found it an engrossing read that was slightly out of the ordinary, but lots of fun.

Cedar Sanderson's Tanager's Fledglings was also a fun-filled. It is the first story in a planned series, though the second in that universe. It was quite a bit different in tone from the novella that introduced that universe, being something of a coming of age.

Both were a lot of fun for me to read, and I hope you'll give them some consideration. I may review them once I've gotten some other stuff dealt with and am more in the mood to do such once more.


Downtown. Center City. The Central Business District. Whatever it is called, most American towns of any size and age have an area where most of the businesses were concentrated. Suburbanization, interstates, consolidation, and globalization have often take their tolls on such districts, but most towns continue to have such districts. Usually, such districts are reasonably central to the city. But not always.

Most of the exceptions are found where there is a terrain feature influencing development. Rivers, lakes, and seas can present a formidable obstacle or outright block to extending development in some directions. Hills, mountains, and valleys can have a similar influence. Sometimes even the angle of a slope itself can affect patterns of development.

Take the city of Cincinnati, Ohio for one example. Downtown is roughly centered with respect to east and west, but north and south is another matter entirely. The broad expanse of the Ohio River, beyond which lies the state of Kentucky, meant that any expansion southwards was not part of the city. And hills to the north of downtown were largely restricted to residential development. So downtown Cincinnati exists at the extreme southern edge of the city proper.

Toledo, Ohio is flatter than Cincinnati, but the obstacle presented by the width of the lower Maumee River slowed development to the east. Toledo's downtown is closer to centered than Cincinnati's, but it still isn't precisely balanced.

An extreme example of such a lack of balance in the position of a downtown can be found in the large village of Montpelier, Ohio. As a town of nearly five thousand, Montpelier has a nice little concentrated business district. Despite the relatively-flat terrain, this district is nevertheless located almost at the extreme northwest of the village's development. The vast majority of residential development extends south and east from the downtown. Why? I've got no clue, but it is a bit noticeable when looking at overhead imagery of the area.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Geography and Spelling

The names given to roads, rivers, parks, towns, and mountains vary significantly. While you might expect the spelling to be reasonably consistent, it isn't always, even when in close proximity.

Take the Allegheny and Allegany. Pennsylvania has Allegheny County (home to Pittsburgh), most of the course of the Allegheny River, and most of the Allegheny Mountains and Plateau. New York has Allegany County, and a town of Allegany, which is actually in Cattaraugus County. Pennsylvania is home to Allegheny National Forest. Directly across the state line, adjoining the lands of the National Forest, is New York's Allegany State Park.  Thankfully, the river and other geographic features don't change name where they cross the border.  That would just be confusing.

Southwest of Allentown, Pennsylvania lies the town of Emmaus.  Emaus Road runs from the southern outskirts of Allentown to Emmaus.  Some maps (Google Maps, Bing Maps) show it as Emmaus Road, some as Emaus Road (Google Earth). Google StreetView images show "Emaus Ave" on the sign at Emaus and 4th Street.

Another example is simpler. Between the towns of Harrison, Ohio and Bright, Indiana lies a road named Jamison Road. Much of it runs along Jameson Creek, a tributary of the Whitewater River.

It certainly makes inconsistencies in spelling more understandable at times. Variant spellings aren't two surprising, really. But variant spellings for two things in close proximity?  Really. Much as it grates on my nerves, it happens in the wild.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

New Stuff from Some Good Authors

Sorry for the scarcity new posts lately. Real Life (tm) has just been a bit overwhelming lately. For fellow readers of science fiction, I have this quick post on some works I've been following

Sarah Hoyt has posted a short story, "Lost and Found" up at the Mad Genius Club blog, a prequel of sorts to her recently-released Darkship RevengeCedar Sanderson's new novel Tanager's Fledglings has been released. I haven't read it yet but plan to purchase and read it shortly. If I understand correctly, Pam Uphoff's Fort Dinosaur, the latest installment in her Directorate series, is expected to be released Very Soon.

Baen Books released the e-ARC for The Alexander Inheritance, a time travel/alternate history novel by Eric Flint, Gorg Huff, and Paula Goodlett. I read and enjoyed it, though I'm skeptical of a few elements in the story. I may review it here at some point in the future.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

This May Khipu Occupied for a Bit

National Geographic has reported upon recent discoveries related to the Inca khipus. It is hoped that the recent finds may eventually help unravel the information encoded into the braided strands. The article may khipu keep you occupied for a brief bit.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Joys of Home Ownership

Sorry posts have been sparse the past week or so. I've been facing some deadlines at work, traveled 1500 miles over Easter weekend, and have been a bit under the weather courtesy of allergies. But what has really gotten me is my house.

I own a home. There are a lot of benefits. Even in the most cramped of subdivisions, you achieve a bit of separation from the neighbors, a vast improvement over apartment life or even condominiums. With a house, I don't have to worry about a notice from the landlord giving me 24 hours to get everything two feet away from the walls for electrical work. I have more room for hobbies and projects. I build equity every month rather than seeing cash simply disappear out the door in the form of rent. Alas, there are some downsides.

Like taking care of things when they break. Doing yard work. Especially during Spring, the lawn occupies far too much time. I've mowed twice in the past seven days. Tonight, for the first time this season, I pulled out the trimmer/edger and found it didn't work. And a downspout fell down. It is currently sitting in the tall grass at the edge of the house. Sigh.

Reviews, trailer progress, and other interesting stuff will likely start appearing over the next few days, as I work through the home and yard issues and get some time again.