Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Tiny Chuckwalla on Piestewa Peak

Look at this little guy I saw today at Piestewa Peak in Phoenix.  He was the tiniest chuckwalla I've ever seen.  Too young to know that he should be afraid of us, Too young to go do what chuckwallas normally do.  So I got to watch him for a while.


The second chuckwalla I saw today was good at doing what chuckwallas normally do:


 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Words for "Kite" in Different Languages

 


I was delighted when I learned the word for kite in Czech:  papírový drak, which literally means "paper dragon."  

One of the words for kite in Spanish is cometa, or "comet."

Today I was even more delighted when I learned the word in French:  cerf-volant, which could be translated as "flying stag."  

So I investigated.  Lots of variations on dragons, birds, and other flying creatures (one Spanish term seems to come from the Nahuatl word for "butterfly," and in Georgian it's "bee").  But here's another favorite:

In Chinese, it seems to translate as "wind zither."

Anyone know any other cool literal meanings?

Monday, February 5, 2024

My article, "Postal Culture Shock," in The Mantelpiece

Check out my travel article in the February 2024 edition of The Mantelpiecehttps://themantelpiece.org/recent-issues

It's about my experiences with post offices in different countries, and it's a fun little read.  



Wednesday, January 24, 2024

This is why we like rain in the desert

 Enough said:


We had about three days of slow, gentle, life-giving rain.  This is what the ocotillo are doing with it:  quickly putting on little leaves.  


Pictures taken 1/24/2024 at South Mountain Park in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

My story, "Vodník," published in Shadows on the Water


Today is publication day for Flame Tree Publishing's Shadows on the Water anthology, which includes my story, "Vodník."  It's inspired by tales of the Czech vodník, a sort of water goblin that is in some versions a mischievous trickster and in some versions an terrifying stealer of souls.  Guess which one mine is.  

It's live in the UK and will go on sale in the US on February 13:   https://www.flametreepublishing.com/shadows-on-the-water-short-stories-isbn-9781804177785.html



Sunday, January 21, 2024

The Frugal Wizard's Handbook for Surviving Medieval England, by Brandon Sanderson


This was a fun read.  I especially loved the handbook entries. 

Some of the plot was a bit confusing to me—mainly how the mythology worked into the dimension they were in.  But that's probably my fault for not paying enough attention.

There was more repetition than I liked, especially about how the main character is such a failure.  I didn't need it pounded home quite that much.

But overall, I enjoyed the adventure, the humor, and the relationships.  

Note:  I've never actually read any other books by Brandon Sanderson (gasp), so I can't compare. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Zoo Lights, Phoenix Zoo

We went to Zoo Lights for the first time, back before Christmas.  They decorate the zoo with I don't know how many holiday lights and "wildlife lanterns" and a light/music show.  The animals are mostly hiding, but it's a beautiful experience.  I LOVED it.

Here are just a few pictures:








If you go, leave yourself plenty of time to explore the whole zoo, and be prepared for difficult parking. 

It's too late for this year, but keep it in mind for next year.