Mount Mihara Part 1 (Travel Journal)



This late morning we all ended up in the car and headed towards Mount Mihara.   It’s an active volcano located right in the center of Izu Oshima, an island that is two hours (by speed ferry) from Tokyo.  Driving on the island cannot possibly be the easiest thing to do.  There is just the main road that goes completely around the island, and not one part of the highway that is straight. It is nothing but curves and sharp turns throughout the endless street.  If you drive completely around, it will take an hour.  I believe the entire milage of the circle is 35 miles.   To get to the volcano from the Haru Elementary School, where we are all working and staying for the Art Islands in TOKYO art festival - takes about 30 minutes. The one street that leads us to a dead end, so we can park and walk to the mountain, can only fit one car.   Yet, on this curvy road, it’s a two-way street.  One can’t see what is around the bend, and usually you come upon a car head-on.  So, one has to drive very slowly, and sort of hope that no one will hit you.  As for me, I hold my breath till we get to the point when we can pull over.

We then walk through a very lush and green pathway that takes us to the desert that is nick-named "Pluto."   The substance on the ground is fine black sand, with an occasional black rock.   The immense space on the top of the mountain makes the island, down below, looks small for some odd reason.  I did not feel that we came from down there, because "there" looks totally different when you're looking above the landscape. What I saw ahead of me was an endless black landscape that gave everything a shade of gray.   Also, I noticed that there was no evidence of life, except for us tourists.   No birds.   No insects.   No plant life.  Just black rock and earth.   There was also a strong wind that made me feel like I would be dragged to the bottom of the hill.  I suffer as a result of vertigo, and suddenly I couldn't take another step in front of me. I felt if the volcano itself was dragging me into its entrance of no return.

I went back to the car by myself, and wrote this short travel journal.
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Mount Mihara Part 1 (Travel Journal)



This late morning we all ended up in the car and headed towards Mount Mihara.   It’s an active volcano located right in the center of Izu Oshima, an island that is two hours (by speed ferry) from Tokyo.  Driving on the island cannot possibly be the easiest thing to do.  There is just the main road that goes completely around the island, and not one part of the highway that is straight. It is nothing but curves and sharp turns throughout the endless street.  If you drive completely around, it will take an hour.  I believe the entire milage of the circle is 35 miles.   To get to the volcano from the Haru Elementary School, where we are all working and staying for the Art Islands in TOKYO art festival - takes about 30 minutes. The one street that leads us to a dead end, so we can park and walk to the mountain, can only fit one car.   Yet, on this curvy road, it’s a two-way street.  One can’t see what is around the bend, and usually you come upon a car head-on.  So, one has to drive very slowly, and sort of hope that no one will hit you.  As for me, I hold my breath till we get to the point when we can pull over.

We then walk through a very lush and green pathway that takes us to the desert that is nick-named "Pluto."   The substance on the ground is fine black sand, with an occasional black rock.   The immense space on the top of the mountain makes the island, down below, looks small for some odd reason.  I did not feel that we came from down there, because "there" looks totally different when you're looking above the landscape. What I saw ahead of me was an endless black landscape that gave everything a shade of gray.   Also, I noticed that there was no evidence of life, except for us tourists.   No birds.   No insects.   No plant life.  Just black rock and earth.   There was also a strong wind that made me feel like I would be dragged to the bottom of the hill.  I suffer as a result of vertigo, and suddenly I couldn't take another step in front of me. I felt if the volcano itself was dragging me into its entrance of no return.

I went back to the car by myself, and wrote this short travel journal.
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The Day I Spoke to the White House

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 18.59.30

A little background: when I was younger and my dad was a technologist, every so often he’d go to Washington DC to go talk to some people about technology stuff. He was always super cryptic about it and we’d joke that he was a CIA informant. To this day I don’t know what he was doing, advising someone about something. Which is just my roundabout way of starting this post about talking to the White House last week.

By “White House” in this case I mean Valerie Green, the Director of Presidential Personnel at the White House. I’m not 100% sure how I wound up talking to her and Amanda Moose, her special assistant, about the incoming Librarian of Congress but I think it went something like this…

I have, as you know, been agitating about the incoming Librarian of Congress, making sure librarians get their voices heard about this appointment. The job is a lifetime position and is often given to late-career historians. James Billington was such a person. While he did some good things for LoC in his tenure, he probably should have retired earlier and there have been legitimate criticisms of some of the things he did and did not do. I made the Librarian of Progress website and wrote an article about this for Medium. The #nextloc hashtag? That one is mine. Medium is one of those online writing platforms. They employ me to do some writing. Other people also write for them who are not employed there, for example Jason Goldman, the White House’s Chief Digital Officer.

Jason wrote an article talking about what he was doing there and I responded. We tweeted back and forth a few times. I sent him a copy of my article when I wrote it. He emailed in early July that I should chat with Valerie Green. I said “Sure, happy to continue the conversation” and then didn’t hear anything until I got an email this past Tuesday asking if I was free for a phone call with Valerie the next day at noon. Noon wasn’t super convenient but when the White House says “Free for a phone call?” the right answer is yes. I have this to say about the White House: of all the people who I have had phone meetings with in the last year or so, they were the most on time and the most prepared. The forty-five minutes I spent talking to Valerie and Amanda were a delight and not just because I felt like I was advancing my cause, both of them were pleasant and smart people who asked great questions and seemed to value my time and their own.

We talked for about 45 minutes about what the job of Librarian of Congress entailed, where Billington didn’t help, what a new person could really do to change things, and why it matters. I felt listened to and they laughed at my jokes. One of the most interesting questions they asked, besides “Has your opinion changed about what the job entails after talking to people about it for a month?” (it has) was about whether I thought people would be really hostile towards basically any appointee in today’s political climate or if there were people who might please everyone (not who were they but just did such people exist). I got to tell them how much I thought certain high profile possible choices were going to be lightning rods (in a mannerly and polite way) and how I was very concerned that media industry people would be trying to stack the deck in favor of their people. I also told them that some people–loud internet people–would probably hate whoever got picked but if they at least felt listened to it would matter a lot. That is, I think a lot of people would be disappointed if the incoming LoC was another older white man, but that could be mitigated somewhat if that person had a serious plan in place for working on LoC’s diversity issues that was front and center of their early communications.

I gave them a long list of people to talk to, primarily people at smaller libraries or representing underrepresented groups in librarianship. They seemed to appreciate that I’d thought about this a lot but also wasn’t a zealot about it. We had a nice and reasonable conversation and I felt upbeat about it afterwards particularly about my biggest fear which was that the job would go to some industry hack who was determined to wrest the Copyright Office from the clutches of the library. All in all, a very good discussion.

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icancauseaconstellation: Bernard Rudofsky: Buttons and Pockets,…





icancauseaconstellation:

Bernard Rudofsky: Buttons and Pockets, 1940s

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One last gasp

Two full weeks before the first week of classes. They include a dissertation defense and a number of meetings of one kind or another, but I am still hopeful that I can get in one last gulp of work before the roller-coaster takes off....

(Minor Works and Pride and Prejudice are at the office I think - will have a foray there tomorrow to collect!)

This is for a book proposal that I am determined to get out by the beginning of September. Additional incentive provided by the fact that I am signed up for an October departmental work-in-progress talk, and I've already committed my Johnson-Shakespeare stuff to the Book History Colloquium (spring schedule isn't yet posted), so I really need to be able to present this project instead: a hard deadline will concentrate the mind like nobody's business!

It is my eternal regret that I habitually let so many summer days go by without tapping into the vein of maniacal productivity; it was a stress factor in June and July that I had to prepare that talk for Oxford, but really in the end I was extremely glad of it, as it meant I did a good chunk of research and drafting (chaotically, under the gun) in a summer that otherwise might have passed by without me getting much traction on anything in particular. If I can just get this one thing done additionally, I will feel OK about summer accomplishments.
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One last gasp

Two full weeks before the first week of classes. They include a dissertation defense and a number of meetings of one kind or another, but I am still hopeful that I can get in one last gulp of work before the roller-coaster takes off....

(Minor Works and Pride and Prejudice are at the office I think - will have a foray there tomorrow to collect!)

This is for a book proposal that I am determined to get out by the beginning of September. Additional incentive provided by the fact that I am signed up for an October departmental work-in-progress talk, and I've already committed my Johnson-Shakespeare stuff to the Book History Colloquium (spring schedule isn't yet posted), so I really need to be able to present this project instead: a hard deadline will concentrate the mind like nobody's business!

It is my eternal regret that I habitually let so many summer days go by without tapping into the vein of maniacal productivity; it was a stress factor in June and July that I had to prepare that talk for Oxford, but really in the end I was extremely glad of it, as it meant I did a good chunk of research and drafting (chaotically, under the gun) in a summer that otherwise might have passed by without me getting much traction on anything in particular. If I can just get this one thing done additionally, I will feel OK about summer accomplishments.
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Biscuits

Lucy Sparrow's world of felt. (Via Becca.) This is my favorite:

Cross-referencing: Alan Hollinghurst on "the Bourbon, the sugared Nice, the rebarbative ginger-nut". Also, though in general Icelandic hotel breakfasts are superb, there was an additional frisson at the Geo Hotel Grindavik to find that in addition to lavish spread of eggs, breads and rolls, ham, salami, pate, salmon-roe-in-a-tube (shades of this!), cheese, pastry, fruit, yogurt, etc., there were also two little canisters of biscuits next to the tea and coffee station: Bourbon biscuits and custard creams! Which remind me so much of my English grandmother....
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Biscuits

Lucy Sparrow's world of felt. (Via Becca.) This is my favorite:

Cross-referencing: Alan Hollinghurst on "the Bourbon, the sugared Nice, the rebarbative ginger-nut". Also, though in general Icelandic hotel breakfasts are superb, there was an additional frisson at the Geo Hotel Grindavik to find that in addition to lavish spread of eggs, breads and rolls, ham, salami, pate, salmon-roe-in-a-tube (shades of this!), cheese, pastry, fruit, yogurt, etc., there were also two little canisters of biscuits next to the tea and coffee station: Bourbon biscuits and custard creams! Which remind me so much of my English grandmother....
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la-pitonisa-tropical: by Pierre Mornet



la-pitonisa-tropical:

by Pierre Mornet

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Crom Your Enthusiasm (21)

conjure thumbLynn Peril on Fritz Leiber's CONJURE WIFE
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Turtle soup

At the Guardian, John Mullan reviews Christopher Plumb's new book on exotic animals in Georgian London:
The Earl of Shelburne, later to be prime minister, kept an orangutan and a supposedly tame leopard in his orangery at Bowood House. The utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham liked to stroke the leopard when he visited. Sir Robert Walpole’s pet flamingo warmed itself by the kitchen fire. Sir Hans Sloane was followed round his Chelsea home by a tame, one-eyed wolverine. He also owned an opossum and a porcupine.
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Turtle soup

At the Guardian, John Mullan reviews Christopher Plumb's new book on exotic animals in Georgian London:
The Earl of Shelburne, later to be prime minister, kept an orangutan and a supposedly tame leopard in his orangery at Bowood House. The utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham liked to stroke the leopard when he visited. Sir Robert Walpole’s pet flamingo warmed itself by the kitchen fire. Sir Hans Sloane was followed round his Chelsea home by a tame, one-eyed wolverine. He also owned an opossum and a porcupine.
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Wynona Carr

WynonaCarr-Reprise-HiLoA husky contralto and vivid lyricism
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transparentoctopus: masks of the Songye people, DRC



transparentoctopus:

masks of the Songye people, DRC

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scandinaviancollectors: Dr. Hartog’s consulting room, Maarssen…



scandinaviancollectors:

Dr. Hartog’s consulting room, Maarssen - the Netherlands (1922). Designed by Gerrit Rietveld. / Pinterest

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The Sunday Series: Sunday August 23, 2015 (Izu Oshima Island, Tokyo, Japan)



The Sunday Series:
Sunday August 23, 2015

Izu Oshima, Tokyo, Japan

Every Sunday, here at the Haru Elementary School, my duties are to sweep the floors and clean up the bathrooms.  I’m here as an artist to take part in an arts festival that is taking place later next month.  From August to the end of September, the festival takes over the elementary school as their gallery and office space.  The school itself became something of the past, in 2009.   Being here now, it is like the entire population of students and their teachers made a run for it, and just left everything in the classrooms intact.  When I first walked in the door last week, it was an eerie feeling of a presence of not one, but many individuals who threw themselves from one classroom to another.  The school itself was under construction by the noted Japanese architect Takamasa Yoshizaka, who once worked as an assistant to Le Corbusier in Paris.  In fact, he translated Le Corbusier’s writings from French to Japanese.  Although I’m totally not sure about this, but I suspect that he designed this school sometime in the early 1960s.   On the property is an Olympic sized drained swimming pool and a baseball field - both are covered by natural growth with an occasional poisoned snake here and there. 



In the principal's office, where I do my daily writing, I’m surrounded by images of past awards, trophies, and various class photographs over the years.   The one thing that becomes clear from looking at the photographs is that teachers start multiplying faster than the students.   Youth, over time, eventually moved to the main land, more likely to Tokyo, and left the island behind.  I can’t speak for the property, but this structure has only been in existence for forty years or so.  Yet it’s a building from the past, and left to rot.  Artists, like rats, need space to do their art, so at the moment it’s a happy relationship between the recent past and the ‘now. ' Still, I feel a great deal of sadness seeing rows of trophies that no longer have any meaning for anyone.   At the time, there must have been great happiness, and nothing but a great future to look forward to.  But life had other plans, and what’s important then is now not-so-important anymore.  



There are a series of photographs on the wall of various teachers who once taught here - and I imagine now, most are dead.  The same for students.  How many of these serious looking faces are alive now?  Even the baseball diamond and the swimming pool are dead.  It’s summertime and all I can smell is death.   The sliding windows on both sides of me are open, and the mosquitos, dragon flies, and an occasional lizard crawls or flies in to bite or harass me.  I wear insect repellent like it is cheap perfume and I want to hide the smell of my decay.  

As I was writing late one night, I felt a presence near me, and I turned around and it was an older gentleman.  I just presume that he was one of the artists here - so many come and go on a daily basis.  The odd thing is he sat behind the table that was once the principal’s desk.  He just sat there looking at me, with no emotion on his face.  He was dressed in a suit and tie, which is an odd outfit for an artist here, and especially in the wet hot weather   of August. It was strange, but then again I’m in a foreign part of the world, and therefore I don’t try to read one’s face, or clothing, especially since I don’t know the language or the customs of those who are from here.  One distinctive thing I notice is that when I saw him, the temperature changed and it became slightly cooler.  If he’s the reason to make the room more comfortable, then I’m perfectly ok with him being here.  And since this is an open studio for artists, it is common for them to come and go as they please. 



The room got warmer all of sudden, and I turned around and he wasn’t sitting at the desk, nor anywhere in the room.  He left.  Oddly I didn’t hear him leave the room.  But since I was totally involved in my writing, I really didn’t think too much about it.  When I finished my work and turned off the computer, I went to the hallway, and I saw the older gentleman slowly walking down towards the other rooms and making a left turn to one of the classrooms. Since I was going in the same direction, I went by the classroom expecting to see him there, but alas, he wasn’t there.  I of course, walked past the classroom again, but I slowly went back and forth in front of the room just to make sure he wasn’t there.  Nothing.  I entered and I did notice that it was cooler in this room than the hallway - which was odd, because all the windows were open in the hall. 

One shouldn’t do this, but I had some hot sake while taking a bath.  It’s dangerous because you can pass out due to the combination of the heat of the bath, the temperature outside, as well as the alcohol.  When I got out of the bath, while drying myself, I heard a noise outside.  I put my clothes on and walked towards the noise, which was coming from the hallway.   From the hallway, I could see a light in my office.  The sound, which was like one or maybe two people walking with the faint sound of a conversation.  It could be one of the other artists here, but I think not, because it was late, and everyone usually is asleep by now.  I walk towards the office slowly.  I wasn’t that fearful it was a burglar - my first thought it was an animal of some sort. Due that in the heat I keep the windows open in the office just to hopefully keep the air circulating.   As I slowly approached the entrance I stuck my head inside the doorway.

What I saw on the desk was a girl in what I think was wearing a Japanese student uniform - maybe 15 or 16, laying on the top, with her skirt above her panties.  I immediately turned away.    I then put my head through the doorway, and this time, she was looking directly at me.  No emotion in her face.  Just laying there.  As if waiting for me.  But also at the same time, I felt her gaze was really looking at nothing.  I felt panicked, but I didn’t want to make any harsh or sudden movement.  When I look towards the desk again, I didn’t see her.   Nor was there any sign of her in the room.   I stayed there for ten minutes doing nothing. I then turned the lights off and stood in the dark for a minute or so.  Nothing.  Unlike the last time I saw the old man at the desk, the temperature didn’t seem to change.  I was trying to logically figure all of this out.   There is nothing to figure out. 

It was a few days later, while looking at the wall while focusing on my writing, that I come upon her.  She is one of many in a classroom photo, taken outside my (the Principal’s) window.  She is sitting down in the front row, near the Principal.  What happened to them, or why, I don’t know.  Or perhaps it is just my imagination over-reacting due to stress, the heat, and being thrown into another culture.  Nevertheless I walk gently into every room in this school, not knowing what is around the corner.  



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The Sunday Series: Sunday August 23, 2015 (Izu Oshima Island, Tokyo, Japan)



The Sunday Series:
Sunday August 23, 2015

Izu Oshima, Tokyo, Japan

Every Sunday, here at the Haru Elementary School, my duties are to sweep the floors and clean up the bathrooms.  I’m here as an artist to take part in an arts festival that is taking place later next month.  From August to the end of September, the festival takes over the elementary school as their gallery and office space.  The school itself became something of the past, in 2009.   Being here now, it is like the entire population of students and their teachers made a run for it, and just left everything in the classrooms intact.  When I first walked in the door last week, it was an eerie feeling of a presence of not one, but many individuals who threw themselves from one classroom to another.  The school itself was under construction by the noted Japanese architect Takamasa Yoshizaka, who once worked as an assistant to Le Corbusier in Paris.  In fact, he translated Le Corbusier’s writings from French to Japanese.  Although I’m totally not sure about this, but I suspect that he designed this school sometime in the early 1960s.   On the property is an Olympic sized drained swimming pool and a baseball field - both are covered by natural growth with an occasional poisoned snake here and there. 



In the principal's office, where I do my daily writing, I’m surrounded by images of past awards, trophies, and various class photographs over the years.   The one thing that becomes clear from looking at the photographs is that teachers start multiplying faster than the students.   Youth, over time, eventually moved to the main land, more likely to Tokyo, and left the island behind.  I can’t speak for the property, but this structure has only been in existence for forty years or so.  Yet it’s a building from the past, and left to rot.  Artists, like rats, need space to do their art, so at the moment it’s a happy relationship between the recent past and the ‘now. ' Still, I feel a great deal of sadness seeing rows of trophies that no longer have any meaning for anyone.   At the time, there must have been great happiness, and nothing but a great future to look forward to.  But life had other plans, and what’s important then is now not-so-important anymore.  



There are a series of photographs on the wall of various teachers who once taught here - and I imagine now, most are dead.  The same for students.  How many of these serious looking faces are alive now?  Even the baseball diamond and the swimming pool are dead.  It’s summertime and all I can smell is death.   The sliding windows on both sides of me are open, and the mosquitos, dragon flies, and an occasional lizard crawls or flies in to bite or harass me.  I wear insect repellent like it is cheap perfume and I want to hide the smell of my decay.  

As I was writing late one night, I felt a presence near me, and I turned around and it was an older gentleman.  I just presume that he was one of the artists here - so many come and go on a daily basis.  The odd thing is he sat behind the table that was once the principal’s desk.  He just sat there looking at me, with no emotion on his face.  He was dressed in a suit and tie, which is an odd outfit for an artist here, and especially in the wet hot weather   of August. It was strange, but then again I’m in a foreign part of the world, and therefore I don’t try to read one’s face, or clothing, especially since I don’t know the language or the customs of those who are from here.  One distinctive thing I notice is that when I saw him, the temperature changed and it became slightly cooler.  If he’s the reason to make the room more comfortable, then I’m perfectly ok with him being here.  And since this is an open studio for artists, it is common for them to come and go as they please. 



The room got warmer all of sudden, and I turned around and he wasn’t sitting at the desk, nor anywhere in the room.  He left.  Oddly I didn’t hear him leave the room.  But since I was totally involved in my writing, I really didn’t think too much about it.  When I finished my work and turned off the computer, I went to the hallway, and I saw the older gentleman slowly walking down towards the other rooms and making a left turn to one of the classrooms. Since I was going in the same direction, I went by the classroom expecting to see him there, but alas, he wasn’t there.  I of course, walked past the classroom again, but I slowly went back and forth in front of the room just to make sure he wasn’t there.  Nothing.  I entered and I did notice that it was cooler in this room than the hallway - which was odd, because all the windows were open in the hall. 

One shouldn’t do this, but I had some hot sake while taking a bath.  It’s dangerous because you can pass out due to the combination of the heat of the bath, the temperature outside, as well as the alcohol.  When I got out of the bath, while drying myself, I heard a noise outside.  I put my clothes on and walked towards the noise, which was coming from the hallway.   From the hallway, I could see a light in my office.  The sound, which was like one or maybe two people walking with the faint sound of a conversation.  It could be one of the other artists here, but I think not, because it was late, and everyone usually is asleep by now.  I walk towards the office slowly.  I wasn’t that fearful it was a burglar - my first thought it was an animal of some sort. Due that in the heat I keep the windows open in the office just to hopefully keep the air circulating.   As I slowly approached the entrance I stuck my head inside the doorway.

What I saw on the desk was a girl in what I think was wearing a Japanese student uniform - maybe 15 or 16, laying on the top, with her skirt above her panties.  I immediately turned away.    I then put my head through the doorway, and this time, she was looking directly at me.  No emotion in her face.  Just laying there.  As if waiting for me.  But also at the same time, I felt her gaze was really looking at nothing.  I felt panicked, but I didn’t want to make any harsh or sudden movement.  When I look towards the desk again, I didn’t see her.   Nor was there any sign of her in the room.   I stayed there for ten minutes doing nothing. I then turned the lights off and stood in the dark for a minute or so.  Nothing.  Unlike the last time I saw the old man at the desk, the temperature didn’t seem to change.  I was trying to logically figure all of this out.   There is nothing to figure out. 

It was a few days later, while looking at the wall while focusing on my writing, that I come upon her.  She is one of many in a classroom photo, taken outside my (the Principal’s) window.  She is sitting down in the front row, near the Principal.  What happened to them, or why, I don’t know.  Or perhaps it is just my imagination over-reacting due to stress, the heat, and being thrown into another culture.  Nevertheless I walk gently into every room in this school, not knowing what is around the corner.  



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lifeisviolence: For all those who are about to lose all hope:…



lifeisviolence:

For all those who are about to lose all hope: Hang on. Life is dark and violent. But death lacks all the small moments where you only stare and enjoy the beauty of the moment, of a tree, of a sunray, of a cool breeze on the skin. At times like these being lonely doesn’t matter anymore, for you and nature are most deeply united in the absolute peace of the moment. Because in the end, life’s beauty is counted in moments of awe, not in years or friends.

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Natural accumulation

A
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Crom Your Enthusiasm (20)

lovecraft thumbAndrew Hultkrans on Lovecraft's AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS
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Revolution in the Head (1)

silverberg thumbRobert Silverberg's DYING INSIDE
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Izu Oshima, Japan





At the moment I'm in Japan, mostly staying on an island called Izu Oshima.   Lun*na Menoh is participating in the 5th International Contemporary Art Exhibition: Art Islands in Tokyo 2015.  As for me, I'm writing a new book which will be about the island as well as the rest of Japan.  The structure where we work is the Habu Elementary School, which was abandoned in 2009.  Since then, the arts festival, for their summer event,  have taken over the premise for the last five years.  It's a beautiful mid-century building designed by Takamasa Yoshizaka.
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Izu Oshima, Japan





At the moment I'm in Japan, mostly staying on an island called Izu Oshima.   Lun*na Menoh is participating in the 5th International Contemporary Art Exhibition: Art Islands in Tokyo 2015.  As for me, I'm writing a new book which will be about the island as well as the rest of Japan.  The structure where we work is the Habu Elementary School, which was abandoned in 2009.  Since then, the arts festival, for their summer event,  have taken over the premise for the last five years.  It's a beautiful mid-century building designed by Takamasa Yoshizaka.
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Devil math!

A
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How to succeed in business without really dying

A
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“Losers often grow up to be writers”

A
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Photo



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No Man’s Land (13)

cavern thumbIn the cave it was always a dusky twilight.
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Crom Your Enthusiasm (19)

conan thumbJosh Glenn on Robert E. Howard's THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON
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Google Live Search billboard, Old Street, London. (via Tom…



Google Live Search billboard, Old Street, London. (via Tom Ruzyllo on Twitter) [Other sources: 1, 2]

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Travels part III – Iceland!

By the time we got there, we were pretty much just due to collapse in the hotel room! (This was predicted in advance.) Fortunately it was an incredibly nice hotel.

(Our final two nights in Iceland were at the Geo Hotel in Grindavik - both of these hotels are pretty much brand new - I was initially a bit horrified that I had rashly taken us from lovely cosmopolitan city to isolated country location, but really it is good to see something a bit different - we had an interesting walk around small town and harbor, and the nearby restaurant was surprisingly good - I think this is it - we ate three meals there as options in walking distance were limited.)

Food in Iceland in general was ridiculously good. I don't have links for everything (or even most things), but we had fantastic Thai food here, very decent random local pizza, tons of good fish (with and without chips), a beer at Nico's favorite place, steak lunch here with my friend J. and his two older kids after an episode of puffin watching and delicious cocktails in the lobby at our hotel.

The Golden Circle bus tour was a little overwhelming (the landscapes are amazing, but there are too many people - tourist infrastructure really isn't up to current volume); I loved the small zoo in Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon also exceeded expectations.

(We had two very fancy meals in Iceland, food on New Nordic lines: one at the Lava Restaurant at the Blue Lagoon, the other at Haust in our hotel lobby. The regular-place food is so good, the fancy food is slightly wasted on me & B. - but it was genuinely exceptional, and I would especially single out lovely desserts. Not so photogenic - subtle rather than flashy - but utterly delicious: at Haust, a rhubarb victoria with almond sorbet, roasted almonds and arctic angelica syrup, and at Lava a poached pear with ginger sorbet, praline cake and elderflower syrup. Divine!)

Pictures below are piecemeal: the final ones are only a small fraction of what was on offer at the glorious Saga Lounge at the airport on the day we left!



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Transsiberian Slitscan Test – section9.co.ukBetween March and…



Transsiberian Slitscan Test - section9.co.uk

Between March and April, 2015, my partner and I travelled over 10,000km. We covered one quarter of the way around the planet, the vast majority by train. Using a small, second hand digital camera and a sticky camera mount, I recorded the majority of the train journeys.

What you see is over 200GB of footage, shrunk into a single image using a technique known as slitscan. Every frame, I take the middle column of pixels and concatenate it to the image. Each vertical column of pixels represents 1/30th of a second. This adds up into a huge strip, which is then cut and pasted into a more pleasing rectangle.

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18th-century bits

Two nice eighteenth-century bits:

"Puzzle purse" a.k.a. love token at the Houghton Library;

Road maps! (Heyeresque....)
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mrsfscottfitzgerald: jamaicanamazon: tempestpaige: thecalicoki…



mrsfscottfitzgerald:

jamaicanamazon:

tempestpaige:

thecalicokid:

poseidons-tomb:

what

Yass fuck it up Skeletor!

i was about to be mad at the comment above me bc i thought they were calling one of the girls skeletor

i was wrong

Ok I see you

Okay but what is this class called and how can I join it ????

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Tidal playgrounds

Swimming in the Thames.
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Travels part III – Iceland!

By the time we got there, we were pretty much just due to collapse in the hotel room! (This was predicted in advance.) Fortunately it was an incredibly nice hotel.

(Our final two nights in Iceland were at the Geo Hotel in Grindavik - both of these hotels are pretty much brand new - I was initially a bit horrified that I had rashly taken us from lovely cosmopolitan city to isolated country location, but really it is good to see something a bit different - we had an interesting walk around small town and harbor, and the nearby restaurant was surprisingly good - I think this is it - we ate three meals there as options in walking distance were limited.)

Food in Iceland in general was ridiculously good. I don't have links for everything (or even most things), but we had fantastic Thai food here, very decent random local pizza, tons of good fish (with and without chips), a beer at Nico's favorite place, steak lunch here with my friend J. and his two older kids after an episode of puffin watching and delicious cocktails in the lobby at our hotel.

The Golden Circle bus tour was a little overwhelming (the landscapes are amazing, but there are too many people - tourist infrastructure really isn't up to current volume); I loved the small zoo in Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon also exceeded expectations.

(We had two very fancy meals in Iceland, food on New Nordic lines: one at the Lava Restaurant at the Blue Lagoon, the other at Haust in our hotel lobby. The regular-place food is so good, the fancy food is slightly wasted on me & B. - but it was genuinely exceptional, and I would especially single out lovely desserts. Not so photogenic - subtle rather than flashy - but utterly delicious: at Haust, a rhubarb victoria with almond sorbet, roasted almonds and arctic angelica syrup, and at Lava a poached pear with ginger sorbet, praline cake and elderflower syrup. Divine!)

Pictures below are piecemeal: the final ones are only a small fraction of what was on offer at the glorious Saga Lounge at the airport on the day we left!



Uncategorized

Travels part III – Iceland!

By the time we got there, we were pretty much just due to collapse in the hotel room! (This was predicted in advance.) Fortunately it was an incredibly nice hotel.

(Our final two nights in Iceland were at the Geo Hotel in Grindavik - both of these hotels are pretty much brand new - I was initially a bit horrified that I had rashly taken us from lovely cosmopolitan city to isolated country location, but really it is good to see something a bit different - we had an interesting walk around small town and harbor, and the nearby restaurant was surprisingly good - I think this is it - we ate three meals there as options in walking distance were limited.)

Food in Iceland in general was ridiculously good. I don't have links for everything (or even most things), but we had fantastic Thai food here, very decent random local pizza, tons of good fish (with and without chips), a beer at Nico's favorite place, steak lunch here with my friend J. and his two older kids after an episode of puffin watching and delicious cocktails in the lobby at our hotel.

The Golden Circle bus tour was a little overwhelming (the landscapes are amazing, but there are too many people - tourist infrastructure really isn't up to current volume); I loved the small zoo in Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon also exceeded expectations.

(We had two very fancy meals in Iceland, food on New Nordic lines: one at the Lava Restaurant at the Blue Lagoon, the other at Haust in our hotel lobby. The regular-place food is so good, the fancy food is slightly wasted on me & B. - but it was genuinely exceptional, and I would especially single out lovely desserts. Not so photogenic - subtle rather than flashy - but utterly delicious: at Haust, a rhubarb victoria with almond sorbet, roasted almonds and arctic angelica syrup, and at Lava a poached pear with ginger sorbet, praline cake and elderflower syrup. Divine!)

Pictures below are piecemeal: the final ones are only a small fraction of what was on offer at the glorious Saga Lounge at the airport on the day we left!



Uncategorized

18th-century bits

Two nice eighteenth-century bits:

"Puzzle purse" a.k.a. love token at the Houghton Library;

Road maps! (Heyeresque....)
Uncategorized

18th-century bits

Two nice eighteenth-century bits:

"Puzzle purse" a.k.a. love token at the Houghton Library;

Road maps! (Heyeresque....)
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The Machine Stops (6)

machine stops thumb"My respirator had flown goodness knows where."
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Crom Your Enthusiasm (18)

tarzanDiana Leto on Burroughs's TARZAN AND THE LION MAN
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Circle Game (6)

blind circleMaurice Renard and Albert Jean's BLIND CIRCLE
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Tidal playgrounds

Swimming in the Thames.
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Tidal playgrounds

Swimming in the Thames.
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Travels part II – Oxford!

In short, one of the best conferences I've ever attended. Incredibly stimulating and enjoyable: also, they treated us like kings and queens! (Unfortunately I came down with a sinus infection that turned into a chest cold, I was laboring with it the following week also and passed it on to B., but this is perhaps just the reality of international travel for me). Good times with friends old and new, including a dinner with Claude R. and co. at Gee's, sundry meals and drinks with a remarkable former student of mine and generally lavish hospitality. Here are some highlights:

We left Sunday after the final plenary talk (missing the college wine-tasting, alas, not to mention the staged reading of Irene!): traveled by car to LHR, where we killed some hours in the Aer Lingus lounge (reciprocal privileges with IcelandAir, which gives lounge access even with the Economy Comfort fare).

And thence to Iceland!
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Travels part II – Oxford!

In short, one of the best conferences I've ever attended. Incredibly stimulating and enjoyable: also, they treated us like kings and queens! (Unfortunately I came down with a sinus infection that turned into a chest cold, I was laboring with it the following week also and passed it on to B., but this is perhaps just the reality of international travel for me). Good times with friends old and new, including a dinner with Claude R. and co. at Gee's, sundry meals and drinks with a remarkable former student of mine and generally lavish hospitality. Here are some highlights:

We left Sunday after the final plenary talk (missing the college wine-tasting, alas, not to mention the staged reading of Irene!): traveled by car to LHR, where we killed some hours in the Aer Lingus lounge (reciprocal privileges with IcelandAir, which gives lounge access even with the Economy Comfort fare).

And thence to Iceland!
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Travels part I

In Cayman, my mother and I saw blue iguanas and dined lavishly at Michael's Genuine and Casa 43 (not to mention Fidel Murphy's), with lots of visiting of Cayman friends.

On Saturday, August 1, B. and I flew to Miami and thence overnight to Heathrow (lie-flat beds!). Four nights at the Premier Inn Waterloo (slightly inferior to the companion hotel at County Hall, but still very good value for the money), the Mission Impossible movie at the nearby IMAX theater, mother's-side family meal at aunt's in Islington Monday night, father's-side family day in Greenwich (the queen's deer!) Tuesday (including a very convenient and pleasant but gastronomically undistinguished meal at Jamie's Italian - it is a great place to go with young kids, though I was suffering here as elsewhere with the English lack of air-conditioning - it was a warm week and everywhere inside was incredibly stuffy!), lunch meetup Wednesday at the Anchor and Hope with Jane and then on to Scootercaffe for a meetup with my cousin George before her shift started.

Thursday to Oxford! Part II to follow.
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Travels part I

In Cayman, my mother and I saw blue iguanas and dined lavishly at Michael's Genuine and Casa 43 (not to mention Fidel Murphy's), with lots of visiting of Cayman friends.

On Saturday, August 1, B. and I flew to Miami and thence overnight to Heathrow (lie-flat beds!). Four nights at the Premier Inn Waterloo (slightly inferior to the companion hotel at County Hall, but still very good value for the money), the Mission Impossible movie at the nearby IMAX theater, mother's-side family meal at aunt's in Islington Monday night, father's-side family day in Greenwich (the queen's deer!) Tuesday (including a very convenient and pleasant but gastronomically undistinguished meal at Jamie's Italian - it is a great place to go with young kids, though I was suffering here as elsewhere with the English lack of air-conditioning - it was a warm week and everywhere inside was incredibly stuffy!), lunch meetup Wednesday at the Anchor and Hope with Jane and then on to Scootercaffe for a meetup with my cousin George before her shift started.

Thursday to Oxford! Part II to follow.
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Closing tabs/light reading roundup

Life re-entry is always a bit overwhelming, especially when it's so hot in NYC and I've been away for many weeks. I have just spent a couple of hours responding to emails, making travel plans and to-do lists, etc. and feel a little calmer about my chances of getting everything I need to done before school is properly underway.

(I made an initial stab at laptop battery replacement effort on Monday, but the tech support call got cut off and I didn't have the time or psychological wherewithal to pursue further - must either get back at that tomorrow morning or hand it over to an office staff person if I really don't think I am going to be able to get it done myself!)

I'm planning to fight the Facebook creep by belatedly posting some catch-up vacation photos here, but first I'm overdue for a long light-reading roundup and some closing of tabs.

Tabs:

A good list of reading recommendations.

A non-embarrassing classical music scene in a blockbuster movie! (Via Nico, and I totally agree. B. and I saw this movie the day we arrived in London - movie-going is a good activity for the jet-lagged and sleep-deprived....)

Light reading, international travel edition (that's three weeks' worth, I guess, though I was still working pretty frenetically on Johnson and Shakespeare that week in England):

Max Gladstone's latest Craft book, Last First Snow (these books are extremely good - I found this one a little slow in opening, but I suspect it had more to do with poor attention on my part than anything to do with the actual writing).

A reread of Garth Nix's wonderful Abhorsen sequence, starting with the most recently published by chronologically earliest and then proceeding with the central trilogy - ah, if only there were way more books as good as these and in this vein!

Blake Crouch, Pines (NOT recommended - I skimmed through it with increasing incredulity and dislike!)

Sam Reaves, Mean Town Blues (not bad).

Maggie Mitchell, Pretty Is (I liked this a lot - the voices of the two main characters could be more clearly differentiated, and the ending is implausible, but the writing is extremely good, and the protagonist teaches Richardson!).

Then (ah, my Amazon recommendation algorithm is going to flog all sorts of unfortunate things for years to come - I was in Cayman still, I like digging in to a long book that is first in a series!) the first Dune (a mixture of appealing and silly) and then subsequent two installments, which become increasingly silly - I think I can do without reading any more of these!

By then I was in England, and took up a very good and suitable urban fantasy series set in many of the same places I was spending time: Benedict Jacka's Alex Verus series. These are extremely good, very appealing light reading: not quite as funny and original, I think, as Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London books, but certainly worth mentioning in the same breath.

A very silly book I regretted wasting my time on: the storytelling isn't bad, but I really just wish characters wouldn't stop to have sex in the middle of my nice suspenseful genre fiction, I wouldn't have picked it up if I realized it was more on the romantic suspense lines....

Two installments that I LOVED in a new series by Rachel Aaron (haven't read her others and brief sampling persuaded me I wouldn't necessarily like them as much, but these are delightful, whimsy notwithstanding): Nice Dragons Finish Last and One Good Dragon Deserves Another. Less "indie" in sensibility than Martin Millar's extraordinary Kalix the Werewolf books, but not totally dissimilar in sensibility and appeal.

Elizabeth Hand's Wylding Hall (quite good, and yet flawed by a deep romanticism that is not at all subjected to critique - I think I am tough on Hand's books in the way that one is overly critical of books that have a lot in common with someone one would want to write oneself - but I really prefer the Pamela Dean vision of such things).

By now I think I was in Iceland....

Peter Robinson's latest Inspector Banks book, In the Dark Places (not earth-shattering, but well-conceived and -executed - these books are always readable).

An amazing novel I've had on my Kindle for a little while but for some reason hadn't tackled (possibly due to the word "Love" in the title), Alaya Dawn Johnson's Love is the Drug. Highly recommended.

A reread of Nos4A2 because I couldn't find anything I liked and decided it would be better to have something good for the second time than something bad for the first, and then a reread of Lauren Beukes' The Shining Girls to see if the two had as much in common as I remembered (yes and no - definitely share the same DNA - Beukes' main characters are more fully individuated, but Hill's storytelling is perhaps slightly more gripping).

The first two-thirds of The Three-Body Problem, which I enjoyed very much but found too little character-driven to keep my attention during a day of travel (I will finish it tomorrow or the next day I expect).

On the plane back from Iceland, grippingly, a book I was excited for at the time but somehow never quite opened up (or maybe I did and found the opening pages bleak?), but it is GLORIOUSLY appealing and what I most like: Nicole Kornher-Stace's Archivist Wasp. Throw this book in the face of anyone who suggests that the dystopian YA genre is all tapped out!

Then a reread of the four Arnaldur Indridason books I had in my Kindle library, to get into the Icelandic frame of things (the most recent four, basically - there's a new one out in England but not yet in the US I think). These books are thoughtful in a way that rewards rereading: I like the way he gives different characters the detective role in different books (a good way to avoid the kind of series burnout that afflicts certain writers I will not name).

Then, last night, a really delightful novella by the superb Mira Grant (she is a genius of light reading), Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus.

That's it for now, I think....
Uncategorized

Closing tabs/light reading roundup

Life re-entry is always a bit overwhelming, especially when it's so hot in NYC and I've been away for many weeks. I have just spent a couple of hours responding to emails, making travel plans and to-do lists, etc. and feel a little calmer about my chances of getting everything I need to done before school is properly underway.

(I made an initial stab at laptop battery replacement effort on Monday, but the tech support call got cut off and I didn't have the time or psychological wherewithal to pursue further - must either get back at that tomorrow morning or hand it over to an office staff person if I really don't think I am going to be able to get it done myself!)

I'm planning to fight the Facebook creep by belatedly posting some catch-up vacation photos here, but first I'm overdue for a long light-reading roundup and some closing of tabs.

Tabs:

A good list of reading recommendations.

A non-embarrassing classical music scene in a blockbuster movie! (Via Nico, and I totally agree. B. and I saw this movie the day we arrived in London - movie-going is a good activity for the jet-lagged and sleep-deprived....)

Light reading, international travel edition (that's three weeks' worth, I guess, though I was still working pretty frenetically on Johnson and Shakespeare that week in England):

Max Gladstone's latest Craft book, Last First Snow (these books are extremely good - I found this one a little slow in opening, but I suspect it had more to do with poor attention on my part than anything to do with the actual writing).

A reread of Garth Nix's wonderful Abhorsen sequence, starting with the most recently published by chronologically earliest and then proceeding with the central trilogy - ah, if only there were way more books as good as these and in this vein!

Blake Crouch, Pines (NOT recommended - I skimmed through it with increasing incredulity and dislike!)

Sam Reaves, Mean Town Blues (not bad).

Maggie Mitchell, Pretty Is (I liked this a lot - the voices of the two main characters could be more clearly differentiated, and the ending is implausible, but the writing is extremely good, and the protagonist teaches Richardson!).

Then (ah, my Amazon recommendation algorithm is going to flog all sorts of unfortunate things for years to come - I was in Cayman still, I like digging in to a long book that is first in a series!) the first Dune (a mixture of appealing and silly) and then subsequent two installments, which become increasingly silly - I think I can do without reading any more of these!

By then I was in England, and took up a very good and suitable urban fantasy series set in many of the same places I was spending time: Benedict Jacka's Alex Verus series. These are extremely good, very appealing light reading: not quite as funny and original, I think, as Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London books, but certainly worth mentioning in the same breath.

A very silly book I regretted wasting my time on: the storytelling isn't bad, but I really just wish characters wouldn't stop to have sex in the middle of my nice suspenseful genre fiction, I wouldn't have picked it up if I realized it was more on the romantic suspense lines....

Two installments that I LOVED in a new series by Rachel Aaron (haven't read her others and brief sampling persuaded me I wouldn't necessarily like them as much, but these are delightful, whimsy notwithstanding): Nice Dragons Finish Last and One Good Dragon Deserves Another. Less "indie" in sensibility than Martin Millar's extraordinary Kalix the Werewolf books, but not totally dissimilar in sensibility and appeal.

Elizabeth Hand's Wylding Hall (quite good, and yet flawed by a deep romanticism that is not at all subjected to critique - I think I am tough on Hand's books in the way that one is overly critical of books that have a lot in common with someone one would want to write oneself - but I really prefer the Pamela Dean vision of such things).

By now I think I was in Iceland....

Peter Robinson's latest Inspector Banks book, In the Dark Places (not earth-shattering, but well-conceived and -executed - these books are always readable).

An amazing novel I've had on my Kindle for a little while but for some reason hadn't tackled (possibly due to the word "Love" in the title), Alaya Dawn Johnson's Love is the Drug. Highly recommended.

A reread of Nos4A2 because I couldn't find anything I liked and decided it would be better to have something good for the second time than something bad for the first, and then a reread of Lauren Beukes' The Shining Girls to see if the two had as much in common as I remembered (yes and no - definitely share the same DNA - Beukes' main characters are more fully individuated, but Hill's storytelling is perhaps slightly more gripping).

The first two-thirds of The Three-Body Problem, which I enjoyed very much but found too little character-driven to keep my attention during a day of travel (I will finish it tomorrow or the next day I expect).

On the plane back from Iceland, grippingly, a book I was excited for at the time but somehow never quite opened up (or maybe I did and found the opening pages bleak?), but it is GLORIOUSLY appealing and what I most like: Nicole Kornher-Stace's Archivist Wasp. Throw this book in the face of anyone who suggests that the dystopian YA genre is all tapped out!

Then a reread of the four Arnaldur Indridason books I had in my Kindle library, to get into the Icelandic frame of things (the most recent four, basically - there's a new one out in England but not yet in the US I think). These books are thoughtful in a way that rewards rereading: I like the way he gives different characters the detective role in different books (a good way to avoid the kind of series burnout that afflicts certain writers I will not name).

Then, last night, a really delightful novella by the superb Mira Grant (she is a genius of light reading), Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus.

That's it for now, I think....
Uncategorized

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