Tuesday Tidbit: Dresses and Success

In which Lelia discusses a wedding dress and the narwhal migration. (This takes place earlier in the book than last-week’s snippet.)

Over the next few days Lelia studied Renaissance sword and knife fencing, and more about Renaissance costumes. “Not black, since all the black seemed to have been either really heavy linen or velvet,” she read her list. “Not flat-chested, because I’m not, and that requires some serious corsetry.”

She didn’t see anything in the costume or dress catalogues that exactly suited what she wanted. “Hmm, no.” That place made things to order, and at a reasonable price, but she’d heard less-than-great things about American women ordering clothing from them. Things tended to run small, especially in the chest and shoulders. She wasn’t huge, but she didn’t need to be tearing out seams every time she had to reach up or sideways.

During a quiet moment on Thursday, she asked, “Tay, what size of dog coat does Rodney wear?”

Tay blinked up at her from his nest under the counter. “Small, but not purse-dog. Medium if you count his tail.”

“Large end of small. Thanks.” She made some additional notes, then put the little notepad away. “We’re going to visit Eddie tomorrow before we come here.”

He perked up. “Does this mean I get the cutaway coat with crimson silk lining and a monocle?”

“I was thinking more cavalier. You know, velvet and satin jacket, lace collar and cuffs, big hat with a feather.”

“No.” He curled into a ball, back to her, tail around his head.

Heh. I win. Continue reading

Sources of Knowledge

How do we know what the weather was like “back then?” We don’t.

We can get some good ideas about climate, however, so long as we acknowledge that our data and ideas may be flawed and subject to change as we learn more. The sources we use to track long term weather patterns (aka climate) fall into two very broad categories, and there is some overlap. Those categories are direct data, and proxy data.

Direct data are what we can and have measured using modern instrumentation (for the then-present definition of modern). Numeric temperature, barometric pressure, snowfall and rainfall totals, sunspot counts, those are direct data. Continue reading

Winter Sunrises

The combination of sheets of high clouds from storm systems that miss the Panhandle, plus the southerly track of the sun, have combined to give us amazing sunrises this past week. They incline towards crimson and gold, with splashes of pink in the opposite sky.

The storm tracks have been south of this area, or north. As a result, the moisture and lower clouds remained far away. However, the ice clouds that trail along the sides of the storm track have been a near-constant presence, some days thickening until they form a sheer, milky cover that mutes the afternoon sun and swallows any sunset. Continue reading

Hottest day Ever!!!! (No, Not Really)

The wildfire season in Australia has been especially bad, in part thanks to arsonists and idiots (but I repeat myself.) The US and other media have been screaming that it is due to anthropogenic climate change, and that everyone’s going to diiiiiieeeeeeeee!!! It is the hottest day/year ever in Australia, and this proves that only reverting to a Third-World standard of living and covering hectares of Australia with solar panels will save the koalas and wombats. And some people too, maybe.

History called. They want their panic back.

The climate scientist Jo Nova wrote an excellent article about the actual hottest day ever recorded in Australian history. It wasn’t even in the 20th century. Continue reading

Thursday Tidbit: St. Stephen’s Day Gifts

From Furiously Familiar. Contains a spoiler for the previous book, so you might want to skip this if you haven’t read that yet.

“You do realize that you need a new use name,” André observed out of the blue as they tidied up after supper. “You are no longer a beginner.”

“I’d been wondering a bit about that myself, sir.” She dried the last dish and hung the towel on the oven door. “How does one get a new use name?”

“Let’s go sit somewhere a little more comfortable, please?” He twisted left and right, moving slowly and with great care. “Too much sitting after too much bending and reaching.”

Rodney trotted into the living room behind them, and plopped into Tay’s spare nest. He announced, “The rapier and dagger work is great, lots of stretches and extensions, and you don’t raise your arms the way you do with Japanese fighting styles.”

“Great for the person watching, not the one doing?” Lelia inquired, one eyebrow raised as she looked from mage to Familiar and back.

André nodded. “Somewhat, yes.” She sat, and Tay made himself comfortable on her lap. André looked at the lemur. Tay blinked orange eyes and looked back. “You are as bad as a dueña, you know that, Mister Tay?”

Tay swished his tail. “I’m protecting your virtue.”

Lelia felt her face turning red and glanced to the side. André made a choking sound, one quickly drowned by Rodney’s guffaws. “Shadow? Virtue? Pull the other one, it has bells on it!” Continue reading

G. K. Chesterton and Orson Welles

A re-post from 2017. I’ll be back on the Feast of Stephen.

On a December 1941 Christmas broadcast of his popular radio program, Orson Welles presented part of the Gospel of Luke, the short story “The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde, a few other Christmas things, and closed with a most unusual Christmas poem.

It was by G. K. Chesterton, and Welles’s reading came as the US was still reeling mentally from Pearl Harbor.

Fast-forward to 23:00. The text is below.

The Truce of Christmas

Passionate peace is in the sky—
And in the snow in silver sealed
The beasts are perfect in the field,
And men seem men so suddenly—
(But take ten swords and ten times ten
And blow the bugle in praising men;
For we are for all men under the sun;
And they are against us every one;
And misers haggle and madmen clutch,
And there is peril in praising much,
And we have the terrible tongues uncurled
That praise the world to the sons of the world.)

The idle humble hill and wood
Are bowed upon the sacred birth,
And for one little hour the earth
Is lazy with the love of good—
(But ready are you, and ready am I,
If the battle blow and the guns go by;
For we are for all men under the sun,
And they are against us every one;
And the men that hate herd all together,
To pride and gold, and the great white feather,
And the thing is graven in star and stone
That the men who love are all alone.)

Hunger is hard and time is tough,
But bless the beggars and kiss the kings;
For hope has broken the heart of things,
And nothing was ever praised enough.
(But hold the shield for a sudden swing
And point the sword when you praise a thing,
For we are for all men under the sun,
And they are against us every one;
And mime and merchant, thane and thrall
Hate us because we love them all;
Only till Christmastide go by
Passionate peace is in the sky.)