Great deal on a 6qt enameled cast iron dutch oven

This enameled cast iron dutch oven should last longer than we do.

I use a dutch oven for baking sourdough bread and cooking with my sous vide circulator. It is also wonderful for cassoulet, which I have been challenged to prepare by a young lady this week...

Second or third in-line behind my cast iron skillet, the enameled Dutch oven is one of my most-used kitchen tools.

The lid is only rated to 450F because of the button-style handle on top. Replace it with a stainless one and the whole deal is good to go at 500F.

Vremi Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven Pot with Lid - 6 Quart Capacity Deep Large Ovenproof - Red via Amazon Read the rest

Becky Chambers' 'A Closed and Common Orbit' brought me to tears

Chamber's second novel, A Closed and Common Orbit, in her Wayfarer series is so wonderful I cried several times.

A Closed and Common Orbit picks up immediately after Chambers' first story, Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet concludes but is barely an extension of that tale, beyond further expanding on Chambers' wonderful universe. This novel follows a newly created, but ultimately undesired, shipboard AI that is forced to leave its vessel and take up a fugitive residence in a human appearing shell.

Assisted by Pepper, a human who was genetically engineered as a slave, the AI has to find everything from a name to determining a purpose for itself. Completely out of the element for which it was designed, the AI struggles with friendships and body integrity disorder.

I cried several times.

The story alternates between that of the AI and Pepper, her human guardian. Briefly introduced as a very interesting Maz Kanata type in the first book, I wanted to learn more about Pepper. I was not disappointed, as her backstory is equally touching and tear-inducing. Genetically engineered to help sort and recycle junk, Pepper unwittingly escapes her keepers and spends years in a city-sized junkyard restoring a small spaceship.

This wonderful search for meaning and identity in a harsh, harsh world is a must-read.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers via Amazon

Previously on Boing Boing:

I absolutely loved Becky Chambers' 'The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet' Read the rest

Lynn Freer Turner's wild, whimsical, and sometimes absurd paintings

Lynn Freer Turner has been painting for decades, but you had to know the Turner family to see her work! If you got really lucky, as I did with the top image in this post, sometimes Lynn would sell you a piece. Finally, this outstanding artist decided to share her work via Instagram! Lynn is trying to share one new image of her work a day.

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New one#painting#losfeliz#animallover#losangeles

A post shared by Lynn Freer Turner (@lynfogram) on Mar 20, 2019 at 9:21am PDT

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A bad dream#sleeplesspainting

A post shared by Lynn Freer Turner (@lynfogram) on Mar 7, 2019 at 7:31am PST

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Exploring the neighborhood#griffith park

A post shared by Lynn Freer Turner (@lynfogram) on Mar 4, 2019 at 1:12pm PST

Lynn paints whatever catches her fancy. Sometimes wonderfully bizarre scenes, sometimes the chickens in her back yard. The world displayed through Lynn's lens delights me.

Lynfogram Read the rest

Funko's lovely Stan Lee tribute

If the Captain Marvel opening credits didn't tug your heartstrings enough, perhaps this marvelous Stan Lee Funko Pop will satisfy.

The only autograph I ever asked a celebrity for was Stan Lee. "Excelsior, Jason! Stan Lee" is on a 3x5 card around here someplace.

Funko POP!: Stan Lee via Amazon Read the rest

Reusable produce bags to limit even more bag waste

My mother told me I should be using reusable produce bags. She's right.

The logic behind reusable grocery bags is pretty hard to shake. The bags create less waste, save money, resources, and hold more than the normal market supplied bags anyways. It is much easier for me to carry my 2 large bags than try to wrestle 4 paper ones.

When my mother suggested reusable produce bags my first thought was something along the lines of "Well, I got used to people with their reusable straws." I've always kind of assumed the thin plastic bags the market offers for produce were biodegradable. Research shows that they can be but in many cases are not. Additionally, what passes as biodegradable for plastic bags can still take a very long time to breakdown.

I got a set of these bags. They work as you would expect.

Vandoona Food-safe Reusable Mesh Produce Bag – Set of 9 Strong See-Through Mesh Bags for Fruit, Veggies via Amazon Read the rest

Star Wars origin story for Grand Admiral Thrawn is as wonderful as I hoped

Thrawn begins the backstory of Grand Admiral Thrawn, perhaps the most fearsome non-Force user in the Empire.

Timothy Zahn's Heir the the Empire series introduced Grand Admiral Thrawn. The blue-skinned, red-eyed, master of strategy and tactics inspired decades of speculation and debate.

Then Star Wars Rebels re-introduced Grand Admiral Thrawn as the super villain intended to crush the nascent Rebellion. I was thrilled. Sadly, Thrawn was kind of a doofus and not nearly as tough for the Rebels to get around as I'd hoped.

That said, Thrawn was still fascinating. A blue-skinned non-human who appears a peer with Darth Vader? I wanted to know more and luckily Timothy Zahn was brought back to flesh out the story.

Marooned on a deserted planet for simply suggesting a non-standard approach to solving his people's problems, Thrawn is discovered by the Empire. The blue-skinned alien who outwits dozens of Imperial Troopers is taken to Coruscant to meet the Emperor and enlisted to help subdue the dangers of the Outer-Rim.

This adventure is a fantastic story, but learning Thrawn's motivations and backstory have set me down the path of reading the entire trilogy.

Thrawn (Star Wars) by Timothy Zahn via Amazon Read the rest

I woke up my long refrigerated sourdough starter

Everyone I know is on a sourdough kick. My sister was talking some stuff she learned in a class, so I took these photos to show her what "waking up the starter" means to me.

When I took my starter out of the fridge and looked in the crock I saw a deep pool of hooch. It has been since Thanksgiving that I used it, and I may have put this batch in the fridge back in June or July 2018.

I take a heaping spoonful of the starter and...

...gently mix it with 1/2 cup of warm water and 1/2 cup of flour. Then I set it aside for 4 hours.

I feed the starter every 4 hrs when I am awake, until it is awake. When I sleep the yeast can sleep. Once I have 2 cups of starter in my bowl, I discard 1/2 and add 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour again, maintaining the volume at around 2 cups. When the starter looks like this, it is ready to use.

I used the starter, baking a loaf of bread in my Dutch Oven.

Bread with butter, jam and cheese was yesterday's meal. Read the rest

Twistable snake reminds me of my childhood

Picking up one of these twistable snakes pretty much makes an hour disappear.

Instantly I immediately remembered how to make the soccer ball and the little terrier. I would never have known to consider these a 'fidget' toy way back in my single digit days, but these snakes kick the shit out of any fidget spinner.

Speed Cube Snake Ruler Cube Puzzle 3 Pack via Amazon Read the rest

Cheap sunglasses that evoke the King of Cool

These cheap sunglasses remind me of Steve McQueen's Persols.

I take a lot of fashion cues from the King of Cool. McQueen's signature sunglasses were the Persol 714 with blue lenses and damn if they aren't both cool, and expensive! These SUNGAIT glasses are not expensive, and they certainly share a lot of design elements.

The keyhole bridge and blue lenses were McQueen enough for me, but there is an 'amber' pair that looks pretty faux-tortoiseshell if you just gotta.

While these are glasses claim to only work for women, they work fine for all small to medium size faces regardless of gender. The materials are light, the frames are thin, the lenses claim to block UV.

SUNGAIT Vintage Round Sunglasses for Women Classic Retro Designer Style via Amazon Read the rest

I absolutely loved Becky Chambers' 'The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet'

Recently, I noticed Becky Chambers' runaway hit The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was available via Kindle Unlimited. I regret having waited so long to read this widely acclaimed novel.

A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is every 'meet the crew of a special spaceship' space opera you've read. The phenomenal world-building and super-fantastic characters are perfect for the genre. Chambers, however, addresses issues of race, gender and civil rights in such a straight-forward 'Welcome to a galaxy full of everything and everyone!' manner, with such sensitivity, honesty and insight, that I immediately recommended this book to my sci-fi loving, but very mid-teenaged niece.

Chambers shifts storytelling point-of-view every chapter, and the novel begins with Rosemary Harper. Rosemary is fleeing her wealthy family, and safe planet-side existence, out of some sort of shame-to-be-disclosed-later. She is joining the crew of the Wayfarer, a slapped together spacecraft that helps tunnel worm-holes for interstellar travel. Chambers has named the series after the ship, so you know Wayfarer is special. There are a Human captain and a multi-species crew that does the space family cooped together in a not-actually-that-small-sounding-box routine quite well.

Who they all are is actually far less interesting than how they regard one another and interact, and these are some interesting beings. Chambers excels at describing interspecies relations, methods and mannerisms that allow their society, both onboard the ship and across the galaxy, to work.

I immediately dove into the second book in ther series, A Closed and Common Orbit. Read the rest

See the galaxy through the eyes of a frustrated rogue AI in Martha Wells' 'Murderbot Diaries'

All Systems Red is the fantastic story of a self-aware security robot, protecting a team of scientists on a scary planet, that really just wants to watch some crappy cable tv.

Martha Well's 'Murderbot Diaries' are a series of novellas about an anti-social security construct having a mild existential crisis. Referring to itself as a "Murderbot" and pretty much hating the job it was designed to do, Murderbot has a large library of downloaded media to work through and just wants to hang out in the equipment closet.

In All Systems Red, the first in Wells' series, the crew of scientists Murderbot has been rented to protect have no idea the rogue SecUnit has overridden his governor, and gone rogue. Murderbot just wants to keep its secret and watch some videos, but those humans keep dragging it into dangerous situations and trying to treat it like a person. Murderbot doesn't feel comfortable around actual humans.

All Systems Red (Kindle Single): The Murderbot Diaries via Amazon Read the rest

Power outage coffee: using Stanley's camping French Press at home

During a recent power outage, deprived of espresso, I was lucky to have a Stanley French Press on hand. Read the rest

Classic Science Fiction: 'Day of the Triffids' is dated but haunting

Despite showing its age, John Wyndham's Day of the Triffids continues to be a consuming post-apocalyptic tale. Read the rest

Glass screen protector for our Nintendo Switch

Glass screen protectors have saved me $100s of dollars in repairs. I use them on our cellphones, tablets and now on the Nintendo Switch my daughter and I share. Read the rest

Peng Shepherd's "The Book of M" is a dystopian love story

Peng Shepherd's The Book of M delivers the confusion and frustration of massive world change by playing on the strings of your heart. Read the rest

Blank Bicycle 'Rider Back' cards

This deck of 56 'Rider Back' Bicycle playing cards has blank faces.

These come in handy for a number of magic tricks. The cards are printed on US Playing Card stock, and excepting the missing printed faces are identical to your regular deck of Bicycle 808 cards.

Magic Makers Bicycle Blank Face Red Back Card Deck via Amazon Read the rest

The Themis Files: humanity races to kill itself before the aliens can

Sylvain Neuvel's series The Themis Files is a gripping tale where humanity repeatedly guesses wrong, the aliens are tied up in their own soap opera, and giant stompy robots are the least of anyone's problems.

This is one heck of a story. Sleeping Giants, the first novel in this series, starts with the world in geopolitical balance and not much exciting going on. The US government discovers part of an ancient alien artifact made of some super metal. A secret project to locate and reassemble the thing is launched.

The alien artifact turns out to be a giant mech, like Ultraman but weird. The mech inexplicably needs two drivers who are not connected in any special fashion or for any real reason. This is a seriously shitty design flaw, like needing two people to operate the steering and brakes of a car. Regardless, the humans go to monstrous lengths to make it work. They also accidentally kill a bunch of innocent people and some of themselves, sort of.

Curiosity really gets the cat in this one. Over the course of these three books messing around with the mech causes problems interpersonally, locally, internationally and finally intergalactically.

Don't fuck with alien tech. Waking Gods and Only Human are the second and third novels in the series. I burned through all three over the holidays.

The Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel via Amazon Read the rest

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