Sunday, May 17, 2009

Charles Stross - Glasshouse

So, I just finished another Charles Stross, and I love it.

Glasshouse is another Science Fiction from Stross who can invent settings very different yet in the same moment frightening similar to our everyday life projected into the future.

As with 'halting state', Stross defines a society which seems in reach,. There is a likelyhood that our future will bear some resemblence to the society Stross describes. How do people behave in different settings, with a different set of norms, just slightly modified or exagerated? Sublte pressure, hidden enemies, new terms in a similar language - and depression, desperation, hope and anger are close once the reader indentifies with the hero.... or the heroine?

Excellent book, just the ending is a bit greasy, tacky, happy ending. Don't missunderstand, please, I love happy endings, but either real kitsch with a rosy red sunset, or without words, just happening as a natural, inevitable extrapolation in my head.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Settling down and learning about the region I live in - Texas Hill Country

We moved here about a year ago. Here is Austin, but very close to the Texas Hill Country, and I have heard this part actually belongs to that geographical region, although the dominant landscape feature are streets ;-)

So, I finally make myself time to learn about the nature, trees, grasses, animals. When living in Germany, I was not only able to tell animals and trees apart, but I could actually go into the forest or nature and come back with healing herbs and food plants. Some of that food is very, very intense in taste, delicious and healthy.

Here in Texas, this knowledge is not very useful even though some plants are similar. An oak tree in Germany is very different to a Life Oak here in the Texas Hill Country. Like everything, every plant is optimizing the water usage with small, hardy leafs and different growth. I did not recognize these trees as oaks up to the point when they carried acorns, and it took me a good look into several books to figure out that they are life oaks.

The best book I have found so far? Trees, Shrubs, and Vines of the Texas Hill Country. Many of the other books around have sketches instead of pictures, to few and to small pictures. Even this one is not perfect in this aspect but the best I have seen, and I have checked quite some in various libraries and bookstores. It has a good section on landscaping, juniper ashes and the ever present cedar and how to deal with all aspects related. Very informative not just for recognizing plants, but also as a guide on how to deal with plants on your own ground.

I checked it out at my Austin library, but at least when redoing your garden or ranch it will be worth buying, IMHO:
Trees, Shrubs, And Vines Of The Texas Hill Country: A Field Guide (W L Moody, Jr, Natural History Series)

(Buy from Amazon-link)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Book binding and book arts

Book binding and book making is fun, and I am glad I started doing this again.

First I joined the Austin Book Arts Meetup. I actually took my daughter to it as Jerome, the organizer recommeded. And it was fun. We learned a bit about Zines. How to make them, what they are and how they started. And then we actually made a zine on our own.
Great fun, and I have some pictures of mine. It really helped that we had a little starter kit from the artist of that session.

Highly recommended for book lovers, book binding and book arts lovers!

P.S. This online editor from Google is .... Integrating pictures I have to go into html mode to be able to sort.
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