Lake Michigan’s deadly ‘freak wave’ of 1954 is Chicago folklore. Turns out it was a meteotsunami. And they happen pretty often. – Chicago Tribune

As beach season approaches, research suggests Chicago is pummeled by more meteotsunamis — an obscure type of wave that can crash ashore for many minutes at a time and pose dangers to swimmers and boaters — than anywhere else in the Great Lakes.
— Read on www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-lake-michigan-meteotsunami-waves-20190415-story.html

Ampersand! Ampersand! Ampersand! My Life Is One Big “And…”

We’re in a holding pattern here at Chez Gique, waiting for something to happen – a good thing, just hasn’t happened yet. And it’s hard to be patient, and it’s hard not to hyperfocus on “when will we know happens next,” and it’s hard to keep spirits up and positive.

So in the meantime, other than the fact that a narcissistic madman is running the country, what else is going on?

Well, it’s currently hard to type words like “currently,” “hard,” or “words,” because the “R” key on my iPad Mini Rugged Zagg book is missing a keycap, and as it’s a really old Mini, it’s not worth buying a whole new one. I’m making do for now, rather than using either my (elderly) laptop or my (not as elderly) desktop. The Mini is way more comfortable for lounging on the couch, on the bed, or keeping nearby during the day.

I sent away for a repair kit from www.replacementlaptopkeys.com that finally arrived today, and I has a sad: I did NOT order an exact match for the little doodads that go under the keycap. There are a lot of ZAGG keyboards on their page and I thought I had narrowed down the best match, but no. Thanks for playing. So I sent off an email to the seller, not expecting a refund, just to see if they have a suggestion. I already tried a low tech repair that did not work, so will make do for now.

In other news of interest to nobody but me, the family seems to be okay here; my extended family back in the Intermountain West is doing well and growing, friends are okay. It’s hard to be more specific than that, because in the winter we don’t get together as often – especially my cycling friends, though we have an active chitchat always going in Facebook Messenger. There may be something going on Sunday for an outdoor activity in the cold, but (fortunately) I’m committed for Sunday mornings until after Easter over at Holy Moly.

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and news via TuneIn and Stitcher lately. I’m currently listening to “Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow, which is a companion to his book of the same name – which I haven’t read yet. It’s still interesting because it uses Farrow’s audio files of some of his interview subjects, and in some cases, people that he went back and spoke with after the fact to get their reaction to the story. It’s fascinating, and parts of it are harrowing. Voice after voice after voice, women talking about being victimized and then silenced by Harvey Weinstein – thank God he was convicted of at least a couple of the charges against him, and is in prison awaiting sentencing.

I often listen to Pod Save America – in this era I find its snarky yet informative tone helpful. As it turns out, Ronan Farrow is the spouse of one of the PSA hosts, Jon Lovett. Apparently it’s a small world.

Another podcast is really just the audio recording of The Rachel Maddow Show (TRMS) – most nights I watch the show, some nights I watch it via DVR, other times I just listen to audio. Why? Again, I find it comforting in this era. Sometimes TRMS delves deeply into a story, every now and then it goes a little too deeply into the weeds (as in the notorious night when “Trump’s NY State Tax Returns” were sort of released). I appreciate the way Maddow treats guests – it’s one on one, whether they are physically in the studio or via “remote.” Other news show hosts opt for the “panel” approach and they call on people one by one, and sometimes there’s a lot of backchat and jockeying. It can be annoying.

Maybe I watch cable news too much lately – again, due to our current predicament with an actual bully occupying the Bully Pulpit. But I feel this compulsion to be informed, or maybe it’s an obligation to be a witness to history.

For instance, yesterday was History – an impeached president* was acquitted by the spineless bootlickers of the Republican Senate (yes, I’m jaded, and this blogpost was started a few weeks ago and I’m behind). In a pleasant surprise, the junior Senator from Utah, Mitt “Mittens” Romney, voted to convict. For me, as a former Utahn (and scarred by the experience of growing up non-Mormon in Utah) I was actually shocked, and grudgingly had to give Romney props for adhering to his sacred oath of impartialism for the impeachment trial.

Moving on into March, which is already full of madness…

So we’re still waiting for Something Good to Happen, and it’s been a long and bumpy month with ups and downs. Today was a good day, with some good signs and at least an update that one option was not going to work out. More options are still out there and there is positive forward movement.

Meanwhile, Happy Coronavirus Crisis, everybody! I’m in corporate travel and it’s been wild lately with major corporations (some of them our customers) cancelling huge domestic and international meetings, and airlines canceling flights. And we’re still being “led” by a certifiable idiot who’s doing his level best to muddy the water, obscure lines of communication, and push blame on anyone (Obama!) and anything (cruise ships not yet in America!) that he can.

I am reading 3 different books and it’s slow going because I keep getting distracted by current events, workplace stresses, family doings, and anything on TV that has a sexy bald ex-admiral or treasure hunters with more money than sense. I’ll add them in later as I had to update my books plugin the hard way. But I’m reading Rachel Maddow’s book Blowout, Ronan Farrow’s book Catch and Kill, and I may or may not get to a third book that I haven’t even cracked yet.

It’s finally getting closer to spring and I need to get out on my bike. But it’s been cold off and on. Yes? No? Maybe? More & more & more & excuses needed!

Zagg Keyboard Key Replacement for Apple iPad Mini – ReplacementLaptopKeys.com

Zagg Keyboard Key Replacement for Apple iPad Mini, 100% OEM keyboard keys, Easy To Install With Video Repair Guide, Perfect Fit & Finish, Fix Your Laptop Today! Laptop Keys
— Read on www.replacementlaptopkeys.com/zagg-keyboard-key-replacement-for-apple-ipad-mini/

Just ordered a replacement R key, and boy was that harrrrrd to type. I hope I followed the right path for my iPad Mini.

Murder at the Ashmolean

Murder at the Ashmolean

Category:
Author:
Publisher:
Published: 7/18/2019
1895. A senior executive at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is found in his office with a bullet hole between his eyes, a pistol discarded close by. The death has officially been ruled as suicide by local police, but with an apparent lack of motive for such action, the museum's administrator, Gladstone Marriott, suspects foul play. With his cast-iron reputation for shrewdness, formed during his time investigating the case of Jack the Ripper alongside Inspector…

I’m currently reading this book and honest to God, it’s a slog.

I recently decided to blog more, and read more, trying to be less hyper focused on the national impeachment trial crisis. So I started using my elderly iPad, with a ZAGG keyboard featuring a busted “R” key, instead of the bigger desktop and medium laptop I have, because reasons. And herrrrrrrrrrrre we arrrrrre blogging.

So far, I’ve checked out 3 books and read two, and this last one is just not that good.

The author has a lot of writing credits for TV and media – but the characters are flat, the premise is a bit precious, and it reads like a spec script for a Victorian murder series that didn’t sell.

I’m a fast reader – I read that little dragon fantasy novel in a day. I read the true crime book in a few hours. I’ve been at this Ashmolean thing for a week. And I usually am a sucker for a British cozy set someplace like Oxford or the Cotswolds.

I have even contemplated skipping to the end and not finishing it. That’s heresy.

Meanwhile, I ordered a replacement R key, so that’s hopefully going to have a happy ending!

UPDATE: I finally gave up at about 175 pages in and skipped to the end. See Goodreads for a final review.

Finally, I ended up skipping to the end, something I almost never do with mysteries. The characters are engaging enough but a bit anachronistic, the dialogue labors to be arch, and the setting mentions just enough local color to be “Oxonian” without really giving the reader an immersive experience.

Full disclosure: I’ve visited Oxford (and the Ashmolean Museum) a few times but am no expert, and I’ve read authors who set mysteries there like Crispin, Sayers, and so on. This book just didn’t give me the right sense of time and place.

And the ending? Unsatisfying.

 

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century
Category:
Publisher:
Published: 7/2/2019
Go deep into the investigation behind one of the most frightening and enigmatic serial killers in modern American history, and into the ranks of a singular American police force: the Alaska PD. Most of us have never heard of Israel Keyes. But he is one of the most ambitious, meticulous serial killers of modern time. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as "a force of pure evil", he was a predator…

Lock the doors before reading.

Book Review: Tooth and Claw, by Jo Walton – Pride and Prejudice and Dragons

Tooth and Claw
Category:
Author:
Genre:
Publisher:
Published: 11/12/2019
Now in a new pocket-sized hardcover edition, the World Fantasy Award-winning tale of contention over love and money--among dragons. Tooth and Claw Jo Walton burst onto the fantasy scene with The King's Peace, acclaimed by writers as diverse as Poul Anderson, Robin Hobb, and Ken MacLeod. In 2002, she was voted the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Now Walton returns with a very different kind of fantasy story: the tale of a…

What a perfect little book, introducing us to a lush Regency-era romance of manners and family intrigue – but with dragons. 

How would such a society operate? What happens when the Industrial Revolution hits and manual dexterity becomes even more critical? And how the devil do they fit on the steam trains?

I read this book – no, I devoured it whole, as is proper – within a few hours. The local library happened to have the pocket hardcover edition, and it’s a beautiful little volume.

it doesn’t seem to be part of a series, and leaves some intriguing questions about the ancient history of dragons. I’ll definitely read more by Jo Walton, an award-winning author, and hope that she’ll answer some of those questions some day.

Why Was Suleimani Killed? Deep Dive By BBC World Services Adds Surprising Details In Only 23 Minutes

I highly recommend this short 23-minute radio documentary – it covers a lot of surprising details to round out the portrait of Lt. Gen Qasim Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s QUDS force. His assassination via US drone-fired missiles at Teheran’s airport set off a cascade failure of tragedy: Iran fired missiles at US bases, and then  a passenger airliner was shot down in error by Iranian defense forces.

The BBC World Services pulls a lot of narrative threads together, including the surprising fact that just after the 9/11 attacks, the US and Iran were actually cooperating against a mutual enemy in Afghanistan…and Suleimani provided crucial tactical information. But this short respite in the two countries’ contentious relationship ended abruptly in 2003 when Pres. George W. Bush named Iran as a part of his “Axis of Evil” in a speech. No more cooperation. 

Imagine what might have been if we had left that door open instead of slamming it shut. Even all this time later, GWB’s disastrous presidency is still causing human misery.

There’s plenty more covered in the doc – it’s a very thorough look, up to and including the current US presidential campaign, and Trump’s likely motivation for strengthening his position ahead of next week’s impeachment trial in the Senate.

It’s so tragic. Now that Iran has admitted human error, families and governments in Canada, Ukraine, and many other countries will have to mourn, demand compensation, and try to move on. I’ve been trying to avoid news stories showing the aftermath of the crash; a short clip showing a burned stuffed animal absolutely devastated me.

It’s easier to listen than to see, in this case.

I’m better informed on the back story of Lt Gen Suleimani now – he was a very, very, very bad guy. But at one time, for a short year or two, his political aims aligned with ours; the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and that sort of thing. But we Americans made the typical mistake of lacking nuance in how we viewed Iran, maybe filtered by the old dispute over the hostage crisis during the Carter presidency (which we now know was used to Reagan’s advantage). 

What a damn shame. We almost went to war over a stupid mixture of Trump’s ego, his impeachment woes, and posturing on both sides. And 176 innocent people died (plus more that were not so innocent).

Lt Gen Qasem Soleimani of Iran QUDS force

Lt Gen Qasim Suleimani

 

President Trump’s decision to assassinate Qasem Soleimani came as a shock to America’s foes and allies alike. He was Iran’s top general and has been described as one of the country’s most powerful figures, second only to the Supreme Leader Ayotollah Ali Khamenei. He was, effectively, head of Iran’s foreign policy. He’s been credited as being instrumental in the fight against ISIS but has also been accused of arming and supporting terror groups. But why did Donald Trump order his death?

— Read on www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csyth6

What’s For Dinner: Healthy Shepherd’s Pie {Cauliflower-Potato Topping!} from SimplyRecipes.com

Comfort more than nutrition usually comes to mind when you think of a meat-and-potatoes meal. This recipe qualifies as both. It has all the comfort of classic shepherd’s pie, but works in extra veggies, olive oil instead of butter, and leaner beef. Nobody will be the wiser, since it remains so flavorful and satisfying.
INGREDIENTS
For the potato-cauliflower topping:
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for salting the cooking water
8 ounces cauliflower florets (2 heaping cups)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup low-fat milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
For the filling:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 large celery stalk, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more if needed
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh or frozen English peas
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine (substitute chicken broth, if desired)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
— Read on www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/healthy_shepherds_pie/

We have most of these ingredients on hand. But I have to substitute more cauliflower for potato, swap the dairy milk for nut milk, and swap the cheddar for Swiss, so my dear hubby can eat it. May add some parsley, garlic, and paprika to the cauliflower too. We’ve had good like making faux mash potataux that way.