Yes, It’s Hot…

not as bad as down-state, but we hit 105 yesterday and are on track to hit 105 again for the next few days. But it’s a dry heat. Seriously. Our lows are 70, as compared to 80s down-state.

Speaking of which… I will be down in the Metroplex next week doing some continuing education, so I will be slow clearing comments in moderation and answering questions.

A Shoe-In

One of the things a few alpha (and later) readers inquired about with Merchant and Magic and Peaks of Grace were references to pattens. These were obviously some kind of footwear, but what, exactly?

Above is a detail from a painting of a saint (Dominic, if I recall correctly) in the main art museum in Colmar, France. Notice that the person’s foot is resting on a wooden platform. That is a patten, and the artist did not include the straps or other fasteners, since you are supposed to be watching and meditating on a different part of the work. The setting is inside a church, and even the saint has protective footwear on. Continue reading

Competent Gentlemen

“Why do you hang out with these guys?” The question was asked in jest as I was lurking in the smokers’ corner at LibertyCon.

“Because I like being around gentlemen.”

Laughter and, “These are not gentlemen.”

I beg to differ. They were not necessarily all gentle men. But they were gentlemen. Competent, polite, mature, gentlemen who treat ladies like ladies. You just do not want to get on their bad side, individually or collectively. I like that. Continue reading

Ode to the Card Catalog

Those of you ripe enough in years and wisdom to have used a card catalog, a real one, raise your hands, please. That’s what I thought. Those of you too young to have had the pleasure – I’m not being sarcastic – of the original card catalog won’t miss the institution, but some of us feel the loss rather keenly. There are some things the card system did better than all the electronic cataloguing software packages I’ve worked with thus far.

Olde School search system. From an article entitled “The Card Catalog is officially dead.”

Continue reading

A Charlemagne what?!?

Look carefully at the picture below:

Charlemagne, A. Dürer, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg

Keep that image in mind.

Back in June, my folks and I stopped at an Autohof on one of the Autobahns. These are combination restaurants, convenience stores, coffee-shops, sometimes gas stations, news-stands, play-grounds, and always, places to use the restrooms. Continue reading

Looking at Streams: When Poetry Hits Engineering

A re-print, since Rosgen classification got mentioned yesterday…

A lovely stream dances and sparkles down the side of a mountain meadow. Sunlight glints off the wet rocks in the cold water, and in a few still, tree-shadowed pools, the flash of a shadow hints at the presence of trout. A few water striders scoot over the surface. Farther downstream, the little brook slows and spreads gaining the title of River and picking up a little silt, no longer cold and diamond clear but a touch muddy, especially after rain. It winds slowly, starting to meander across the plateau that sits between the mountains to the west and the broken, mesa-capped plains to the east.

Or I could say that the stream went from a Rosgen Aa2+ in a Type II valley to an A/II and then a G4/VIII.

Which description is better? It depends: are you a poet or an engineer? Because both paragraphs mean the same thing. Continue reading

Riffle, Pool, Riffle, Water bottle, Pool…

Um, yeah, so I was doing stream classification on a gutter the other morning. Why? Because I was. For reasons known only to water and whoever laid this section of gutter, there’s a fifty foot or so section that has a very nice riffle-pool sequence much like an ideal stream reach, complete with knickpoint and thalweg.


OK. Rewind a bit. When hydrology-types describe streams, creeks, brooks, rivers, bayous to each other, we use some in-field jargon and a numerical classification system developed by a gent named Dave Rosgen (who studied under Luna Leopold, the son of Aldo Leopold.). Streams [bodies of flowing water of any size] have certain characteristics no matter what the stream looks like. There are shallow areas with obstructions called riffles, deeper areas where the water flows more smoothly called pools, and a center of the active channel called the thalweg. Places where bedrock controls erosion (often marked by a waterfall of some kind) are knickpoints. Continue reading

Re-name and Remove: Cleaning up the Past

So by now most of you have heard about the American Library Association re-naming one of their major awards.

The attitudes of the 1860s through 1880s are not proper and must be expunged from the record, along with people who wrote about them. Never mind that one of the last major attacks by Native Americans—several hundred settlers killed—against Euro-Americans was in Minnesota in 1862.

Continue reading

New Release: The Scavenger’s Gift

The Scavenger – god of death, and loss, and those who survive at the edges. And the god of miners.

What happens when a metal trader, sworn to Maarsdam, enters the Scavenger’s realm?


Signal Boost: For those interested in space opera and hard sci-fi, Peter Grant’s third book about Cochrane’s Company, The Pride of the Damned, is now available. I alpha read the first two and they are excellent.

Edited to add: SIGH. The Muse just informed me that there will be a third book following the WIP, again from Tycho’s view point. I think it will be called “Merchant and Empire.” Grrrrrrrrrrr.