Age of Rusty Reviews

18 September 2017 19:37
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[personal profile] bluegargantua


   I managed to pick up the pace on my reading so it hasn't been a month since the last review!

  First up Age of Assassins by RJ Barker.  As I've said, I prefer my heroes a bit on the older side these days because I am and I enjoy reading about characters who aren't driven by teenage emotions.  You Die When You Die was a pretty good book but the teenaged protagonist was a chore to read sometimes.  That said, here we are with another book about a young teenager trying to figure out this grown-up thing.  This is complicated by the fact that he's being raised and trained by Merela, a professional assassin.

  The book's setting has a Dark Sun vibe, people can use magic but it draws on life force so if you want to do a big magical spell, you can, but a huge section of land will become barren and lifeless.  Luckily, you can reverse that.  Unluckily, you reverse it by spilling blood onto the "sourlands" magic leaves behind.  So there's a pogrom out for people talented in magic and pretty rough existence for everyone else.

  Girton, our hero, and his master infiltrate a castle on a mysterious mission.  The mysterious mission is a set-up.  The local queen needs an assassin to prevent another assassin from killing her son.  The queen has plans for her son to take over not just the local kingdom but to marry into the High King's family and take over from there.  The son is a jerk and not terribly popular and the grandson of the previously deposed king is around.  So there's intrigue aplenty.

  Girton, of course, is just an apprentice so he winds up doing a lot of grunt work and even when he finds the important clues, he doesn't realize it until Merela puts it together.  That's not to say he's stupid or incompetent (he doesn't kill without reason, but he does kill), just that he's a teenager and there's a lot he still doesn't know.  It's a bit like a Nero Wolfe mystery in which Archie does a ton of running around and then Nero just looks up from his chair and tells you the solution.

  All in all, it was an ok book.  I'm curious to try the next one in the series, but I wasn't super blown away by it.  Certainly a good source for plots in a LARP or RPG.

  Next I read Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill and it's probably one of the better books of fiction I've read this year.  Not terribly literary, but It really sucked me in and held my attention with good characters, dialog, world-building, pacing, and even the deeper themes it touches on.

  In this book, the robots rose up and killed all of mankind (and most of the life on the planet).  The story follows Brittle, a service robot who used to work for humans and now scours the Sea of Rust, the upper Midwest of the US where the freebots try and eke out a living.  Freebots?  Oh yes, because after the robot uprising, the giant mainframe AIs said "download yourself to our servers and let us use your body.  join the One. resistance is futile".  For the most part, resistance has been pretty futile and robots who don't want to be part of one of the major mainframes are out in places like the Sea of Rust trying to keep their heads down and keep a supply of spare parts handy.

  Brittle does a lot of this -- she follows malfunctioning bots out into the wild and when they shut down, she loots them for parts -- either parts she needs or parts she can trade to get what she wants.  Coming home from a successful mission, she gets ambushed.  She survives but gets injured in the process and now she needs to secure a new core for her model or she'll go mental as well.  About this time one of the mainframes makes a major push into the Sea of Rust.

  The book alternates a bit between Brittle's narrative about what's going on and Brittle describing the rise of the AIs and their overthrow of the humans.  That sometimes annoys me (it seems like your padding the page count), but it was pretty well done here.  Although the book plays out like a robot Western or Noir, there are quieter moments where robots probe interesting philosophical questions that lead you down very different and very similar paths when your a robot and not a biological being.  Oh, and yeah, Brittle is a she and why that is so is one of the interesting questions they deal with.

  It was a solid book and I highly recommend it.


(no subject)

18 September 2017 09:18
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[personal profile] crosslet
The past week has been tiring. Returning to school has been stressful for mzkero. Managing schedules and baggage from previous semesters is challenging and not surprising but is having an impact on the rest of the family. Not complaining (at least trying not to), just acknowledging. Also, work has been particularly annoying and tiring. Mostly, end of quarter stuff and lots of customer challenges. Nothing disastrous just relentless.

J had two migraines last week. While that's bad, he seemed to recover more quickly from the one on Thursday. I suspect the second was triggered by the lack of sleep from us attending the Red Sox’s game on Tuesday night and us not being home (parent-teacher visits) on Wednesday evening to make sure he went to bed early. I think he might have had a low-level one most of Wednesday and didn't say anything (urgh, it’s much easier to stop them early!!). But the boys loved the game. It was their first MLB game in person and the Moogy Betts hit two home runs over the "green monster" J was particularly thrilled to attend the game. It's one of those parenting moments when your kid's enjoyment far exceeds what you expected. In hindsight, I wonder if some of the excitement was the manic behavior we frequently experience prior to a migraine, although there typically isn't a very long lag between manic and migraine.

On a positive note, we met J's and S's teachers and I'm optimistic. S's teacher, while new to the school, is very experienced and appears to have the necessary skills for managing his challenges. Although, they gave her most of the high-energy/sports boys. Not the easiest task but she's raised a couple of their own so at least she has experience. J's teachers seem to be a good fit, especially his academic support teacher. He actually came home and said, "Mr S is AWESOME". And after speaking to Mr S, I think we have the potential for a better academic year.

Gaelen and I had a medieval event this past weekend. It was unusually hot and humid but we did well. I got to catch up with friends that I don't see very often (even though some of them live 5 minutes away).

House renovations are progressing well. A couple of glitches but the contractor has been more than willing to address them. Actually, the contractor's direct crew is AWESOME. A couple of their subs are less than awesome. I'm really looking forward to the boy's rooms being done. Having S sleeping in our room is less than ideal - although the dog is going to miss sharing S’s bed.

Ok, time to start my week.
mem_winterhill: (Default)
[personal profile] mem_winterhill posting in [community profile] davis_square
Friends just pointed me to this nerd comedy event coming up at the Armory. I am a fan of new ways to reach out on science topics in fun ways, and this sounds good to me. 

Saturday, September 30 at 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM EDT. Ticketing info over at facebook.

Come hang out with Boston Skeptics and enjoy a night of comedy between science friends.

"You know how Larry the Cable Guy's act pretty much consists of him yelling "Git 'er done!" every five minutes or so? Scientist-turned-comic Tim Lee's material is the diametric opposite. Lee, who got his PhD before realizing where his true talents lay, blends science talk (complete with PowerPoint presentations) with comedy. The hilarious result is like what would happen if you crossed your high-school chem teacher with George Carlin"
- The Boston Phoenix

(no subject)

16 September 2017 16:28
42itous: (Default)
[personal profile] 42itous
a butterfly seen head-on on a flower
"If I turn sideways, you can't see me."

I gave it back.

16 September 2017 00:07
avivasedai: (shofar)
[personal profile] avivasedai
I couldn't do it. I could not devote the time I knew it would take to do a good job on the ne'ilah service, and I gave it back. I definitely feel like I am letting the rabbi down, and I have added a burden back to him that he had not thought he'd get, and perhaps I've burdened the Ritual Committee, which is to say Ian, in helping the rabbi find someone else to lead it (if that's what will happen instead of the rabbi taking it on).

On the other hand, he is the rabbi. I expect a rabbi to be able to lead services. He did what he needed to do - found someone to help him lead - so I guess in that regard he did his job, too. Crap, my other hand turned into the first hand. Dammit!

I was getting so anxious, I would practice for an hour, and then 30 minutes later I'd get the tune wrong again. I can read the Hebrew, I can even read it out loud, but I kept going over the same parts again and again and not progressing. The example audio clips I was given weren't covering what I felt needed covering.

This is not how I need to learn new services. The last time I learned new services was my bat mitzvah, and in that instance, I had been *attending* those services for years. I already had the tunes in my head, I just had to be the one to start them, and to pronounce the Hebrew flawlessly. In this case, I was being asked to learn on my own a service that not only only happens once a year, but that I hadn't attended in full for at least 4 years, and even before that I've heard it once a year, sung by different people, not reading along deeply in the Hebrew because I wanted to read the English and understand the prayers as well as perhaps sing them.

To learn this service for next year, if I want to do that, if I'm asked to do that, I seriously want to sit down (or stand, whatever) with a cantor or rabbi who can sing it, and go through the whole thing. First, go through it all, make notes in the machzor, then break it down into its parts.

I don't know if I could honestly pull it off if I kept it, and that's why I gave it back. I refuse to say "Okay, I'll read the Hebrew, but I'm not doing the right melodies." I don't work that way. There's a certain amount of coasting I find acceptable in a weekly service, but for this, one of the most important bits of praying Jews do in a year, one that some people find incredibly important and significant, no. Sure, I have neshama - spirit, and intent, and perhaps even reverence, and the congregation would be able to pick up on that, but I would not have the confidence. Just no.


Having finally made that decision and committed to not committing, I am literally breathing more easily. Now I feel like I can worry about all the other things in life and still breathe.
bettyw: (Default)
[personal profile] bettyw posting in [community profile] davis_square
 There will be fireworks at Spy Pond at dusk (around 8pm) for Town Night/Day.
mem_winterhill: (Default)
[personal profile] mem_winterhill posting in [community profile] davis_square
HeatSmart CoolSmart SomervilleAt the Climate Commission meeting last night, we got an update on the heat pumps program that's running now. If you have been thinking about ways to reduce your carbon footprint, you really ought to take a look at these new and high-tech super efficient devices. Or if you know your heating equipment is getting up there in age, you should at least come and learn about these. And they can do heating as well as cooling. In my house, it looks like I'll be able to reduce my natural gas heating a lot and rely on my solar for much of my heating and cooling.

I've been resisting air conditioning over the years for a variety of reasons, but this new style of heating and cooling tech I can have both, with much less environmental impact (and noise). Also right now there are big rebates and low interest loans. It's hard to know how much longer good programs like this will run in our current political environment, you know?

So this event will give you the backstory on the tech.

Wed Oct 4 2017 - 6:30pm

West Somerville Community School Cafeteria
177 Powderhouse Blvd.
Somerville, MA 02144

[work] "Okay. Where are we?"

14 September 2017 09:16
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[personal profile] mangosteen
Things I say non-ironically: “I’m used to occupying a weird spot in the corporate realpolitik orgchart… the big open spot in right-center field where the outfielders aren’t because someone read the play wrong.”

More on that later, but I wanted to get the thought out.

Meet candidates for mayor & alderman

12 September 2017 15:47
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[personal profile] secretlyironic posting in [community profile] davis_square
 There is a candidate meet-and-greet this evening at Workbar in Union Square if you want to meet people who are running for Alderman and Mayor. 

havurat_shalom: drawing of Havurat Shalom building (Default)
[personal profile] havurat_shalom posting in [community profile] davis_square
The High Holidays at Havurat Shalom are a wonderful, intense, prayerful experience. They are also free! We do not have tickets. Everyone is welcome! We hope you'll join us. Contact us for disability access info or requests. Childcare is available on a first come, first served basis for all of Rosh Hashanah, except the second night, and all of Yom Kippur, except the afternoon break.

Rosh Hashanah

Wednesday 9/20, 6:30 pm
Thursday 9/21, 9:00 am and 7: 30 pm
children's services 11:30 am
Friday 9/22, 9:00 am

Shabbat Shuva
Friday 9/22, 6:30 pm
Saturday 9/23, 10:00 am

Yom Kippur

Friday 9/29, 6:00 pm
children's services 11:30 am
Saturday 9/30 9:00 am

Havurat Shalom
113 College Ave
Somerville MA 02144

for more info
call: 617-623-3376 (voice)
go to:
or email:

The 1st floor of Havurat Shalom is wheelchair accessible, including the prayer room, dining room, living room, and bathroom. For the health of those with allergies and chemical sensitivities, we request that you not wear perfume, aftershave, or cologne to Havurat Shalom. The bathrooms are all-gender.
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[personal profile] hermionesviolin posting in [community profile] davis_square
Speaking of events this weekend, my church (First Church Somerville -- the one on College Ave. with the rainbow flag, Black Lives Matter banner, and vegetable garden) is hosting 2 events this weekend:

(1) a Yard Sale
September 16th, 2017
First Church Somerville
89 College Ave.
Somerville, MA 02144
Cash, Major Credit Cards and Apple Pay accepted!
All proceeds will go directly to RESPOND, working to end domestic violence

(2) a Block Party
September 17, 2017
at Francesca Ave. and College Ave.
Come meet your neighbors and celebrate fall!
Barbecue and beverages provided; bring a side dish or dessert to share. [Bringing food is not required -- you can just come and eat our food, I promise.]
Bouncy house for adults & kids! Face painting!

Somerville Garden Club Plant Sale

11 September 2017 15:14
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[personal profile] elramsay posting in [community profile] davis_square
September 16, 2017 * 9am-1pm in Davis Square * Rain or Shine!
100s of locally grown plants on sale.
Discover the perfect plant to enliven your garden or window sill.
Don't miss this!, it's been a Somerville Tradition since 1995!

* Sun & shade garden perennials
* Trees, shrubs, and groundcovers
* Horticultural books, decorative containers, garden tools
* Bulbs, dried flowers
* Herbs

Choose from hundreds of plants donated by both Somerville Garden Club members and community friends of the Club. Visit the Connoisseur Table for that unique specimen or find a tried-and-true favorite.
Proceeds benefit the educational programs and public plantings of the all-volunteer, non-profit Somerville Garden Club.

Feeling a little better.

11 September 2017 09:00
avivasedai: (Default)
[personal profile] avivasedai
I took it easy last night, worked on the photo album, made an easy dinner, took an Advil for body ache/cramps and general malaise, and that seems to have worked pretty well for the physical weariness. I felt better while Benito and I were outside, he on his trike and me running behind. He's getting quite good at it. It might be time to start looking around for the next size up - a small bike with training wheels, perhaps?

I have a dr's appt today. No pelvic exam will be done, but she'll test my iron level and perhaps also my thyroid - iron would be affected by Aunt Flo but at least one test will be reliable. I also want to ask her for a recommendation for an allergist. This quasi-random excema to varying degrees is really tireseome.

(no subject)

10 September 2017 19:45
coraline: (Default)
[personal profile] coraline
[personal profile] flexagon said she'd encountered a tasty "people chow" type food in the cafeteria, and it sounded like something I might like, so I found a recipe and tried it.

How can Serious Eats and Ottolenghi go wrong? Well... )

I'm sorry. (also, I am tired.)

10 September 2017 16:05
avivasedai: (Default)
[personal profile] avivasedai
I'm sorry I didn't go to the apple picking today with the Jewish community at large. It's true that Benito was not into it, but honestly, I am the parent, and if I had planned for it to happen, it is much more likely that it would have happened. I did not plan for us to attend. The rabbi called me at 3, when we were in our driveway, Benito asleep in his seat. He asked if I was going, and if I was, if he could call on me to help him with the shofar blowing. He admits he is not good at it, and I am. It is true that if Benito had been willing to go, we would've gone, but having gotten out of the car, I no longer had the energy to get him back into the car and go. I wasn't up to convincing him, or taking him against his will. I am the parent and I get to say what goes sometimes, I know that, but the fuller truth is that I've used up all my energy. The stress I've been feeling since... Friday, maybe even Thursday, has been used up.

I've had my first day of Hebrew school, with 3 in K, 2 in grade 1, and 7 in grade 2. It's a large group to try and keep focused. There are ~3 shy/quiet kids, 3-4 who are more interruptive, 2-3 who can be egged on to excess energy, and the rest are what I would call normally talkative. There was good participation, a number of tangents, and I think a good time was had by all.

My energy is just all used up. I would have liked to go to the thing, and it was almost enough that the rabbi called me - even though I know there are other people who can play a shofar. I'm saving up the energy for later, later tonight, when I have to make dinner and think about dinner for the rest of the week, and do the next large task (either more studying for neilah or more progress on the Spain photobook). Now, I need a freakin' nap, but Benito wants to play with me, and will play by himself for a while and then come back and tug on my arm again.

I was also asked if Benito was going to be part of the pre-K Hebrew school group (I hesitate to say class), who are meeting twice monthly instead of every week. I said "Nope, not this year." If this endeavor repeats next year I will more strongly consider adding him to it. This year, not only did I not have the strength to ask Rick if he would be okay with it but I also didn't think I'd be able to handle getting him ready on Sunday mornings as well as my own self for teaching. Maybe I'm wrong and I could handle it, but again, I am too stressed right now to deal with it.

I must be doing something wrong. I do not want to be carrying this much stress. On the other hand, just because I don't see other parents exhibiting the kind of stress I am feeling doesn't mean it isn't there. It sure is. I am not doing something wrong, I am doing things right, I'm just doing a lot of things, at the same time, and I haven't gotten the knack of ... well, a lot of things, I suppose. After the fact, I wanted to respond to the rabbi when he told the kids "I'm not good at shofar blowing" with "I am, but the rabbi is good at lots of things that I'm not."

Enough writing. Time for playing.
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[personal profile] 3rdragon posting in [community profile] davis_square
From the ResiStat newsletter:

Styrofoam Recycling
If you've been saving up your expanded polystyrene (known to most people as Styrofoam) for the next recycling day, it's just around the corner. On Sat., Sept. 9, bring your Styrofoam to the Department of Public Works, 1 Franey Rd., from 9 a.m. to noon for recycling. On the City's website you can learn more about what's accepted and other details.

It's also a hazardous waste disposal day.

This only happens twice a year, and there's often very little publicity about it. (Sorry I wasn't organized enough to post this sooner.)
[personal profile] ron_newman posting in [community profile] davis_square

The city of Somerville will hold a preliminary election on Tuesday, September 19, because three candidates are running for Mayor. The preliminary election will eliminate the candidate with the lowest vote, with the remaining two facing off in the November 7 general election. The candidates:

There is also a preliminary election on September 19 for Ward 1 School Committee, because three candidates are running for an open seat there: Emily Ackman, Guillermo Hamlin, and Ken Salvato. I know nothing about this race; if you do, please add a comment here. All other School Committee races and all Alderman races (both at-large and ward) will take place on November 7.

Somerville Local First will hold a candidates' meet & greet event on Tuesday, September 12, 6-9 pm, at Workbar, 31 Union Square.

Somerville Candidate Video Profiles on SCATV

Videos from Somerville Labor Coalition candidate forum on June 27

All comment is welcome here!

Lots of festivals this weekend

6 September 2017 23:49
[personal profile] ron_newman posting in [community profile] davis_square
Friday 9/8: Boston Bike Party, Cambridge/Somerville edition. Meet at Alewife station at 7 pm, start rolling at 7:30, eventually ends up at Assembly Row.

Saturday 9/9: Walking tour and celebration of the Somerville Community Preservation Act, starting in East Somerville at 12:30 pm, continuing through Union Square, ending at the Prospect Hill Tower at 2:30 pm.

Saturday 9/9 (with some activities on Friday and Sunday): Assembly Row Riverfest, including fireworks over the Mystic River Saturday night.

Friday-Sunday, 9/8-10: Greek Food and Music Festival at Dormition Church, 29 Central Street.

Friday-Sunday, 9/8-10: Italian Festival of the Healing Saints Cosmas and Damian, on Warren Street at the Cambridge-Somerville line, near Twin City Plaza.

Sunday 9/10: Rock & Roll Yard Sale in Union Square.

Sunday 9/10: Cambridge Caribbean Carnival, parade followed by festival in Kendall Square.

Sunday 9/10: Somerville Dog Festival at Trum Field.


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