The Washington Post looks at the genre of cab ride train videos: long, uninterrupted videos of complete train journeys as seen from the locomotive’s cab. (See Jalopnik’s post if you can’t get past the Post’s registration wall.) There are more than 8,000 such videos listed at Rail Cab Rides, and they’re all over YouTube: they range from scenic mountain railways to the fastest of high-speed trains. (For example, this channel, which I follow, focuses on French trains; it’s hard to call this subgenre “slow TV” when you’re watching TGVs at full speed.) I find them oddly addictive: some people use them as background, but I can’t stop paying attention.
Woke up to discover that our glossy snake had died overnight. Unlike Doofus, this was not unexpected: she was old (I got her in September 2001, and she wasn’t a baby then) and declining; she hadn’t eaten in months.
She was a runt for her species: glossy snakes are usually larger. But she was pretty gentle, which made her useful in introducing nervous people to snakes. In my experience most people in North America slot harmless snakes into one of two categories: small and fast (garter snakes) or slow and huge (pythons). The glossy snake was small and slow, which helped. A nice little snake.
(She was also massively chonky: glossy snakes are desert creatures who normally feed on lizards; an all-mouse diet in captivity led to some serious fatty deposits.)
We lost our cat Doofus on Friday. His decline was sudden, sharp and unexpected: he went from apparently fine to a memory in the span of a week. And we’re still very much in shock about it.
He was at the vet on Wednesday on account of his having become increasingly lethargic and barfing more than usual (which with Doofus was saying something). The vet found some indications that he had early stage one kidney disease, and prescribed a new diet and some medication. Despite this his condition deteriorated sharply the next day. He went from ambulatory to unable to manage stairs within a matter of hours, and then suffered a severe and prolonged seizure. Back to the vet as soon as we could the following morning, where despite being administered anti-seizure meds, he suffered three more seizures, at which point it was clear that recovery was impossible. We ended it at two in the afternoon on Friday.
- The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte (2018). Reviewed here.
- City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer (3rd edition 2004). First volume of VanderMeer’s Ambergris trilogy, which has just been released in a new one-volume edition. Deeply weird book full of squids and mushrooms; the back matter is even weirder, and marvellous, and probably not included in the omnibus, more’s the pity.
- On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu (2021, forthcoming). Fabulist novel focusing on the experiences of an Afghan refugee family in Australia. I have mixed feelings about this book, which I will explain in a review closer to its publication date.
- The Typewriter Revolution by Richard Polt (2015). Engaging look at the present-day typewriter enthusiast counterculture, exploring how the epitome of bureaucracy can become a subversive tool; plus lots of advice for people who want to acquire, use and maintain old manual typewriters.
- Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear (2019). Fascinating space opera with engaging aliens and worldbuilding that is nonetheless not a fun read due to its unflinching focus on emotionally abusive relationships.
- Where Do Camels Belong? by Ken Thompson (2014). Polemic challenging our assumptions about invasive species: what makes them invasive, whether invasive actually a problem, et cetera. About half of the points made are valid, or are valid in some contexts but not others. It depends, as usual.
- Typewriters for Writers by Scott Schad (2014). A buying guide for writers who want to use typewriters, based on the writer’s own collection, experiences and opinions (he’s awfully exercised about the absence of the “1” key). Lots of photos result in a very large Kindle file size.
- The Book on the Edge of Forever by Christopher Priest (1994). Reread occasioned by Straczinski’s announcement that The Last Dangerous Visions really, for sure, truly is coming out this time.
- To the Letter by Simon Garfield (2013). Book about the art of letter-writing that spends rather more time than I expected on letter-collecting.