I’ve decided to start doing these again, if only because not writing them makes me sad 🙁
More specifically, my social media usage has crept back up in the last year since I declared myself Done with Facebook, and I’m not happy with that. Consider this is an effort to try to use it less, but still keep you informed about the oh-so-important details of my life. And I know there are some of you who use social media even less than I do, so I find this a good way to keep in touch!
(Just a reminder: you can sign up to have these posts emailed to you — see the “subscribe via email” box in the left column of my site. If you read something and enjoy it, I’d love a comment!)
In the Northern Hemisphere, we celebrated the summer solstice this past Friday. Mostly I celebrated the longest day of the year by getting up at dawn (5:07am!) and standing on my porch in my housecoat, like a weirdo.
At this halfway point of the year, I am also revisiting my yearly theme, point by point, to see how I’m doing. I’ve been journaling about each point and my progress on it as the year thus far. One thing is clear: minimalism needs more time and attention. So that’s going to be an area of focus for me in the months to come.
This holiday might as well be called the Day of White Flowers, because so many white blossoms are out! At least in central Massachusetts, where I live, this is the season for catalpa (Catalpa spp), mock orange (Philadelphus spp), partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and more. Including the most important: mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), which grows in abundance all over the woods here. The overall effect is astounding, and all really, really hard to capture in pictures. I tried — enjoy my results.
A rant about Latin vs. common names
On a semi-related noteâ€¦ I was taught that the reason to learn the Latin names was for clarity, because there are about a billion things called “creeping Charlie,” or “wintergreen,” to use some common examples. Latin names were supposed to be constant across the world and across time, so that if someone in China said “Chimaphila maculata,” you knew exactly what they were talking about.
The thing I’m discovering is: this is a total lie. Latin names change all the freakin’ time, as we discover more about the species and its relatives.
For just one example: When I was growing up, I learned that the Latin name for a catalpa tree — the tree that stood outside the window of my Physics classroom in high school — was Catalpa catalpa. Heck, it was even a bonus question on a test once. (Thanks, Mr. Dilley). Turns out, Catalpa is a whole genus, and the one I was looking at was probably Catalpa speciosa. And I just learned that when Linnaeus first named the damn thing, it was Bignonia catalpa. None of this, of course, makes any sense unless you understand the phylogeny of the tree itself.
Reading Thoreau’s Walden, he uses Latin names a lot. And even though Walden Pond and Concord are right around the corner from where I live, I sometimes have no damn idea what he is writing about, because almost none of the names he knew in 1864 are in use any longer. (In at least one case, the name was outdated by the time he used it!) I can generally get close — like, hey, that’s some sort of owl he’s talking about, probably a barred owl — which I guess is a benefit over common names?
Anyway, my point is, it’s not a waste of time to learn common names. It’s about as useful as the Latin name, in the long run. Especially since the vast majority of the world is gonna use the common name.
The last Shadowvale event happened after a ~ year of not exercising regularly, plus a recent bout of bronchitis, so let us just say, I was awfully out of shape. I definitely felt it puffing up that hill to McKnight Hall! To say nothing of how it affects my ability to do my role as a flanker (i.e. sneaky-stab-you-in-the-back-rogue) effectivelyâ€¦
Thus I’ve determined that I need to get myself rogue-fit… I’d say “again,” but I was never 100% where I want to be.
I was inspired in part by this article, which suggested specific exercises for getting fitter for larps, focusing on high-intensity intervals. I’ve started doing sprints of various lengths, and — lacking a rope-climbing setup — I’ve been doing weights exercises for my hands and arms to sorta simulate that. I also spent part of my walk in the woods this past weekend jumping over things and generally parkour-ing around, although I realized after the fact that since I was by myself this was probably SUPER DANGEROUS.
(Seriously, though, parkour is very on theme for rogue training, so it’s probably something I should look into! But maybe with a partner).
Also I signed up to run the 14th Annual Benefit 5K / 10K for Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in September. (I’m doing the 5K). You might recall I declined the opportunity to run this year’s Metrowest Corporate 5K, which I’d done previously — but that was largely because running with my coworkers made me unpleasantly competitive. I’m hoping running alone will allow that competitive side of myself to rest, while sufficiently motivating me to train.
Plus, the cause here is more interesting to me — I visited Orchard House for the first time in April and adored it, wishing I knew more about Alcott.
- Converting Photoshop Letter Spacing to CSS. This article is so old the conversion tool doesn’t work any more, but it answered something I’d always wondered about! (And you can always do the math yourself).
- Smash the Wellness Industry. How this “wellness” industry cons women into spending way more time and attention on diet than anything else.
- Decluttering Burst: let go of one hundred things in less than an hour. I did this this past weekend, although I think a lot of what I got rid of was just trash. This is me starting to address the “minimalism” bullet point on my theme for the year.
- Dammerung Larp. Man, I am so intrigued by this, and yet I absolutely do not have time to PC a larp in Pennsylvania. But it sounds like they are doing some really innovative things with this game, and I think Dan Comstock (of Goat LARP fame) is right when he says there’s nothing else quite like this going on in the U.S. right now.
â€¦ there’s so much more I could write. About going to New Haven with EB. About making mead. About the Skyrim dinner I prepared with Alison.
But look, I can’t fit spend my life writing this blog post, so that’s going to have to be it for the week. See you in the future!