Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

The TBR of “Shame”

A recent YouTube video that popped up for me as a recommendation was “Pile of Shame Reading Vlog || Books with Emily Fox.  It’s not so much the books that are depicted in the video but the idea that everyone has books lying around that they’ve started but not finished that had piqued my interest. I have a lot of books which I’ve started and not finished, but I thought I’d list some of them here. For the sake of not boring everyone to tears, I’ve limited this list to non-fiction, plus one fiction book that is masquerading as non-fiction.

  • Jewels: A Secret History by Victoria Finlay – I’m actively reading this one right now. Each section of the book is divided up by gem by increasing hardness on the Mohs scale. It’s a mix of history, science, folklore, and personal anecdotes all rolled into a mix that somehow works. It’s all very interesting and easy reading.
  • Shinto: A History by Helen Hardacre – I bought this book before going on my trip to Japan last year because I knew I would be visiting a lot of temples and shrines. Unfortunately, I’m not even halfway through it yet. The writing is very academic, but I’m still interested. I’m reading this in parallel with Jewels, but this one is quite a bit more slow going.
  • Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen – This book is so relevant with COVID-19 right now, but I actually started this book much earlier. I really do like Quammen’s writing, but at the moment, between reading papers for work on infectious disease and this book–I’d prioritize the papers. And while I find the subject fascinating, reading this just feels like more work at the moment. If you find this interesting too but don’t have time to read this, I recommend watching Joe Scott’s interview with David Quammen.
  • Feeding a Thousand Souls: Women, Ritual, and Ecology in India – An Exploration of the Kolam by Vijaya Nagarajan – I bought this book right after hearing the author speak about her experience with the ritual of kolam in India. It bears a striking resemblance to other magical customs around the world using signs to invoke protection and luck. I’ve never heard about kolam before this but I’m always up for learning about superstition and folklore and how it relates to the societies that come up with them.
  • The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair – This book is divided up by different colors with lots of trivia about those particular colors. I got halfway through and then got distracted by other things. It’s supposed to be a quick read, so I need to get on this.
  • Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe by Kapka Kassabova – This is a mix of memoir and travelogue, reporting and essay. The author travels back to where she spent her childhood, in the confluence of Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece. There’s some absolutely wonderful writing in here and I can’t wait to get back to this one once I’ve finished the books I’m actively reading.
  • Cyclonopedia: Complicity by Anonymous Materials by Reza Negarestani – This is a horror novel masquerading as someone’s lost thesis. It’s weird and bonkers at the same time and definitely not something you can breeze through in one sitting. There’s something really compelling about it too, so I’ll be slowly inching towards the end no matter how long it takes.
  • Magic and Mystery in Tibet by Alexandra David-Neel – I am very much aware that this is viewed through the eyes of a French woman in the 1920s, but considering her scholarly achievements in Asia and Buddhism, she’s possibly a better narrator than, say, a random white dude barging into a culture they have no experience with. This has apparently served as inspiration for a number of writers in the Beat Generation so it would be good background reading.

Wasting Time on the Internet

One would think that with all these months trapped at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I would have had plenty of time to catch up on my reading, but strangely (or perhaps not strangely) enough, that wasn’t the case. I’m as busy as ever, but maybe that’s not surprising considering my field of work.

Recently I managed to finish one of those books in my gigantic to-be-read pile: Wasting Time on the Internet by Kenneth Goldsmith. This particular blog post isn’t going to be critiquing this particular book–although I will say that Goldsmith’s thesis, that the internet has changed how we live and think and spend our time, is an interesting one. Certainly, many things happening in the world now (for better or worse) wouldn’t have been possible without the internet.

This has mostly made me think of what I usually do to “waste time” on the internet. There are so many things. But perhaps I can narrow this down to just stuff I watch on YouTube and maybe I can provide kind of a hodge-podge list of what I do watch.

Cats: These are probably the most time wasting sort of videos I watch. Although–they can also be informative. I also have a cat, after all.


Kpop reactions: It’s not so much the kpop videos themselves that I find interesting, but the whole ecosystem of react channels that have sprung up around it. The more watchable ones, obviously, are the ones with actual commentary instead of incoherent fangirling/fanboying.


Book and writing commentary: Food for thought, basically. You might disagree with their picks, but it’ll get you thinking about your own literary tastes.


People eating weird stuff: Totally mindless but at the same time, completely entertaining.


Music: This is just a small selection of the type of stuff I listen to.


Horror/RPG: I find the storytelling and the intersection of that with this particular genre very interesting. This scratches a different itch than the book/writing commentary channels above.


Science: I’m a scientist. Of course I like watching science videos on YouTube. This is just a small selection. I’m sure there are some other very interesting channels I’ve missed.


Linguistics: These are the channels I find more engaging. I’ve tried some other linguistics/language channels which also are very popular, but I find myself wanting to fall asleep in the middle of them.


Culture: Just some really cool and random stuff all around.


NaNoWordSprints Prompts from July 2020

Here are the prompts I tweeted out on NaNoWordSprints during July for Camp NaNoWriMo!

* * *

June 30, 2020, 9:30pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
January 2008 Book Titles

10 min
caught by surprise
20 min
in perfect harmony
30 min the whole truth
10 min no accident
15 min tempting evil
30 min a picture of guilt


July 2, 2020, 9:30pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 1

10 min Fascination
20 min
Longevity, strength, and grace
30 min False love
10 min A meeting place
15 min Art
30 min Elegance


July 3, 2020, 5:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 2

10 min secret love
20 min
thankfulness, gratitude
30 min
patience, good fortune, prosperity, unity
10 min grief
20 min promise
30 min immortality
10 min pride
20 min
forsaken, sickness, anticipation, undying love
30 min royalty
10 min
hospitality, happiness, abundance
20 min
love is reciprocated
20 min preference


July 4, 2020, 5:00pm-9:00pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 3

10 min
everlasting friendship
20 min
you are the only one I love
30 min
my regrets follow you to the grave
10 min trusting
20 min temperance
10 min faith and purity
30 min good luck
10 min sympathy
20 min impatience
20 min purity of heart


July 5, 2020, 6:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
February 2008 Book Titles

10 min triple threat
20 min
special assignments
30 min perfect cover
10 min gambit
20 min out of the forests
30 min
expecting a miracle
10 min no control
20 min payback
30 min
forbidden attraction
5 min
a person of interest


July 6, 2020, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Ennio Morricone Soundtracks

10 min
the good, the bad, and the ugly
20 min
before the revolution
30 min face to face
10 min
the endless game
20 min the betrothed
30 min
the correspondence
10 min the best offer
20 min disclosure
30 min state of grace
5 min butterfly


July 7, 2020, 8:15am-10:30am (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 4

10 min success
20 min immortal love
30 min beware
15 min glory
30 min unwavering


July 7, 2020, 1:00pm-3:00pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 5

10 min luck
20 min ardent
30 min revenge
10 min magnificence
20 min justice


July 8, 2020, 12:00pm-3:00pm (UTC-8)
March 2008 Book Titles

10 min after hours
20 min
deadly departures
30 min
reasonable doubt
10 min civil and strange
20 min provenance
30 min family matters
20 min I’ve got a secret


July 8, 2020, 5:00pm-9:00pm (UTC-8)
April 2008 Book Titles

10 min fast life
20 min delusion
30 min hidden motive
10 min personal demon
20 min simply perfect
30 min bad blood
10 min
how to enjoy a scandal
20 min fast and loose
30 min full circle
5 min small favor


July 9, 2020, 2:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 6

10 min Protection
20 min Loyalty
30 min Constancy
10 min Courage
20 min Enthusiasm


July 9, 2020, 6:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
May 2008 Book Titles

10 min up all night
20 min
what happens here
30 min angel of mercy
10 min soul stealer
20 min tokens of deceit
30 min
promise the moon
10 min the whole truth
20 min ambition
30 min twisted
5 min
hearts and minds


July 10, 2020, 11:30am-6:00pm (UTC-8)
June 2008 Book Titles

10 min
dark and dangerous
20 min long time coming
30 min from a distance
10 min into the storm
20 min destined to meet
30 min face value
10 min dreamer
20 min cosmic
30 min
made for each other
10 min the final sacrifice
20 min show and tell
30 min nothing to lose
10 min
strangers in the night
20 min conspiracy
30 min reckless rogue
5 min castaway


July 10, 2020, 8:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Types of Divination

10 min
random shouts and cries
20 min footprints
30 min feelings of fear
10 min
observing patterns
20 min
things accidentally seen or heard


July 11, 2020, 2:00pm-5:00pm (UTC-8)
LOC Serendipity

10 min
queries and answers
20 min great fortunes
30 min
notable speeches
10 min
how to fight pests
20 min
enduring investments
30 min
strength for every day
20 min
forward movements


July 11, 2020, 7:00pm-11:00pm (UTC-8)
July 2008 Book Titles

10 min collision
20 min
touching distance
30 min losing ground
10 min
game for anything
20 min unraveling
30 min the shadows
10 min slipping
20 min
flirting with trouble
30 min skin deep
5 min to trust a friend


July 12, 2020, 5:30pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 7

10 min Humility
20 min Docility
30 min Industry
10 min Riches
20 min Profit
30 min
Magnificence and beauty
10 min
Unpretending excellence
20 min Gratitude
10 min Fascination
30 min Passion
10 min Secret symbol
20 min Sweet
30 min A mother’s love
10 min Rejection
20 min Capriciousness
15 min Dreams


July 13, 2020, 8:00am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 8

10 min Refusal
20 min Affirmative
30 min Joys to come
10 min
A good education
20 min Transience
30 min Beauty
10 min Justice
20 min Variety
30 min Love
5 min Optimism


July 13, 2020, 10:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Random Wikipedia Articles

10 min hat trick
20 min
research and theory
30 min discussion
10 min higher ground
20 min squad
30 min released
20 min competition


July 14, 2020, 8:30am-12:30pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 9

10 min Slighted
20 min Truth
30 min Daughter
10 min
Please notice me
20 min I promise
30 min Emblem
10 min Cheerful
20 min Winning
30 min Forsaken
5 min Youthful


July 14, 2020, 9:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
August 2008 Book Titles

10 min into the dark
20 min
indecent proposal
30 min
accidentally fabulous
10 min dark waters
20 min harmony
30 min takeover
10 min trial by fire
20 min overheated
30 min
more than a memory
5 min teaming up


July 15, 2020, 10:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Magic: The Gathering – Ravnica Allegiance – White Cards

10 min bring to trial
20 min
expose to daylight
30 min
impassioned orator
10 min rally to battle
20 min
resolute watchdog
30 min
unbreakable formation
20 min
summary judgement


July 16, 2020, 9:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Magic: The Gathering – Ravnica Allegiance – Blue Cards

10 min clear the mind
20 min eyes everywhere
30 min
mass manipulation
10 min quench
20 min
shimmer of possibility
30 min lost thoughts
10 min prying eyes
20 min mesmerizing
30 min constraint
5 min gateway


July 17, 2020, 8:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 10

10 min Sorrow
20 min Uncertainty
30 min Elegance
10 min Betrayal
20 min Simplicity
30 min Unknown
10 min Overcoming
20 min Attachment
30 min A wound to heal
5 min Devotion
10 min Compassion
15 min Strength
20 min Magic


July 18, 2020, 3:00pm-5:00pm (UTC-8)
September 2008 Book Titles

10 min
stranger at the door
20 min wanderlust
30 min my little secret
10 min cold hearted
20 min revelation


July 18, 2020, 7:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
October 2008 Book Titles

10 min beautiful liars
20 min caught
30 min chains
10 min
until we reach home
20 min jars of glass
30 min the chosen sin
10 min development
20 min in the dark
30 min heart and soul
5 min
the love of danger
30 min security blanket
30 min
what matters most
30 min
such sweet sorrow
5 min naughty or nice


July 20, 2020, 12:15pm-4:15pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 11

10 min Don’t forget me
20 min Insecurity
30 min Thoughtfulness
10 min Resilience
20 min Good luck
30 min Determination
10 min Conviction
20 min Encouragement
30 min Seasons
5 min Hope


July 20, 2020, 9:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Magic: The Gathering – Ravnica Allegiance – Black and Red Cards

10 min clear the stage
20 min consign to the pit
30 min
grotesque demise
10 min
ill-gotten inheritance
20 min act of treason
30 min burn bright
15 min deface
10 min
light up the stage
10 min scorchmark
30 min
skewer the critics


July 21, 2020, 11:00am-3:00pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 12

10 min Solitude
20 min Protection
30 min Devotion
10 min Rare
20 min Ambition
30 min Bonds
10 min Domestic
20 min Constancy
30 min Forgive
5 min Playfulness


July 21, 2020, 9:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Magic: The Gathering – Ravnica Allegiance – Green and Multicolor Cards

10 min gift of strength
20 min open the gates
30 min titanic brawl
10 min tower defense
20 min
wilderness reclamation
30 min absorb
10 min bedevil
20 min captive audience
30 min
emergency powers
5 min final payment


July 22, 2020, 9:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
November 2008 Book Titles – Part 1

10 min the journey
20 min
living with the dead
30 min
a dangerous friendship
10 min divine justice
20 min
a season for grace
30 min
a dance with the devil
10 min unleashed
20 min casting spells
30 min reckless
5 min bad press


July 23, 2020, 2:00pm-6:00pm (UTC-8)
November 2008 Book Titles – Part 2

10 min
running on empty
20 min dark temptation
30 min
an artful deception
10 min perfect circle
20 min almost famous
30 min high spirits
10 min the dreamer
20 min blood ties
30 min the final battle
5 min
extreme measures


July 23, 2020, 9:00pm-11:00pm (UTC-8)
November 2008 Book Titles – Part 3

10 min a fatal slip
20 min open doors
30 min almost perfect
10 min crash
20 min ready and willing


July 23, 2020, 11:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 13

30 min Loveliness
10 min Jealousy
20 min Sacrifice
30 min Heartlessness
5 min Eloquence


July 24, 2020, 8:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Magic: The Gathering – Ravnica Allegiance – Multicolor Cards

10 min get the point
20 min high alert
30 min mortify
10 min savage smash
20 min
theater of horrors
10 min
bedeck and bedazzle
20 min
carnival and carnage
30 min
collision and colossus
10 min
consecrate and consume
20 min
depose and deploy
30 min
incubation and incongruity
30 min
repudiate and replicate


July 25, 2020, 11:00am-1:00pm (UTC-8)
K-pop Video Titles

10 min bad guy
20 min monster
30 min I’m in trouble
10 min oopsy
20 min left and right


July 25, 2020, 2:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Peony Meanings

10 min Shame
20 min Anger
30 min Honor
10 min Prosperity
20 min Bravery


July 25, 2020, 5:00pm-7:00pm (UTC-8)
Poppy Meanings

15 min Oblivion
15 min Remembrance
30 min Consolation
10 min Success
20 min Imagination


July 25, 2020, 10:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
December 2008 Book Titles

10 min suspicion
20 min
an unexpected guest
30 min outlaws
10 min quick study
20 min the inheritance
30 min running wild
20 min by any means


July 26, 2020, 9:45am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Magic: The Gathering – Ravnica Allegiance – Multicolor, Artifact, and Land Cards

10 min
revival and revenge
20 min thrash and threat
30 min
warrant and warden
10 min scrabbling claws
20 min
hallowed fountain
10 min stomping ground


July 26, 2020, 6:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
January 2009 Book Titles

30 min shock wave
30 min in too deep
30 min empathy
30 min nemesis
30 min double cross
30 min scandalous truth
20 min
the rules of the game


July 27, 2020, 1:00pm-5:00pm (UTC-8)
Lilac and Lily Meanings

30 min First love
30 min
Youthful innocence
30 min Purity
30 min Lofty aspirations
30 min Desire
30 min Humility
20 min Trust


July 28, 2020, 9:30am-1:30pm (UTC-8)
February 2009 Book Titles

30 min security
30 min
flight into darkness
30 min ravenous
30 min swept away
30 min sucker punch
30 min without warning
20 min top secret


July 28, 2020, 9:15pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Rhododendron and Rose Meanings

30 min Warning
30 min
Attaining the impossible
30 min Mystery
30 min Youth
30 min Wistfulness
30 min Sorrow
10 min Danger


July 29, 2020, 11:30am-3:30pm (UTC-8)
March 2009 Book Titles

10 min secret invasion
20 min naughty
30 min
vengeance runs cold
10 min still irresistible
20 min dark resurrection
30 min
anything but typical
10 min
don’t let it be true
20 min deceived
30 min mere anarchy
5 min the dark border


July 29, 2020, 6:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
April 2009 Book Titles

10 min
beyond this moment
20 min outcast
30 min borderline
10 min monster trouble
20 min
the next best thing
30 min
the house of secrets
10 min
the moment between
20 min from the outside
30 min cursed
5 min always watching


July 30, 2020, 7:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 14

30 min Faith
30 min Wisdom
30 min Compliments
30 min Dependence
30 min Unconditional
30 min Return
30 min Levity
30 min Ambition
30 min Token
10 min Distrust
20 min Discretion


July 31, 2020, 8:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Random Idioms

10 min
burn the midnight oil
20 min
by the skin of one’s teeth
30 min
call a spade a spade
10 min cold shoulder
20 min
fly in the ointment

NaNoWordSprints Prompts from April 2020 (Part 2)

Here are the prompts I tweeted out on NaNoWordSprints during April 16-30 for Camp NaNoWriMo!

* * *

April 16, 2020, 12:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
List of Idioms, Part 8

10 min in focus
20 min in the fast lane
30 min
jump through hoops
10 min
keep someone company
20 min kindred soul
30 min leave behind
10 min
lick one’s wounds
15 min
look before you leap
30 min make a move
5 min
make up one’s mind


April 17, 2020, 12:15pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)

10 min lavender
sentimental, nostalgic, fragrant
20 min amber
history, autumn, earthiness
30 min caterpillar
phases and stages
10 min butterfly
change is coming
15 min bee get organized
30 min ant
community and working together
10 min peach
pure spirit, gentleness, tenderness
20 min fuschia
communication and compassion
30 min indigo
devotion, justice, wisdom


April 18, 2020, 12:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Gemstone Folklore

10 min diamond tears of the gods
20 min emerald
predicting future events
30 min opal
keeping others from seeing you
10 min aquamarine
calming stormy waters
20 min pearl
wisdom gained through experience
30 min ruby
protection, courage, and strength
10 min sapphire
mystery and intrigue
10 min spinel confused identity
30 min topaz healing
10 min malachite making the sale


April 18, 2020, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Jorge Luis Borges Quotes

10 min
“Man’s memory shapes its own Eden within.”
20 min
“Fame is a form, perhaps the worst form, of incomprehension.”
30 min
“The heresies we should fear are those which can be confused with orthodoxy.”
10 min
“Time, which despoils castles, enriches verses.”
20 min
“To fall in love is to create a religion that has a fallible god.”
30 min
“What one man does is something done, in some measure, by all men.”
10 min
“There’s no need to build a labyrinth when the entire universe is one.”
10 min
“The unicorn, because of its own anomaly, will pass unnoticed. Our eyes see what they are accustomed to seeing.”
30 min
“There exists a corner that I dare not cross.”
10 min
“I think—the hero observes that nothing is so frightening as a labyrinth with no center.”


April 19, 2020, 11:00am-3:00pm (UTC-8)
Quotes from Books by L. M. Montgomery

10 min
“It’s delightful when your imaginations come true, isn’t it?”
20 min
“That’s the worst of growing up, and I’m beginning to realize it.”
30 min
“…I’m so thankful for friendship. It beautifies life so much.”
10 min
“Kindred spirits alone do not change with the changing years.”
20 min
“I’m just tired of everything…even of the echoes. There is nothing in my life but echoes…echoes of lost hopes and dreams and joys. They’re beautiful and mocking.”
30 min
“She had dreamed some brilliant dreams during the past winter and now they lay in the dust around her.”
5 min
“People who are different from other people are always called peculiar.”
10 min
“I don’t really care what people think about me if they don’t let me see it.”
30 min
“I know I haven’t much sense or sobriety, but I’ve got what is ever so much better — the knack of making people like me.”
15 min
“Poor soul, she always knew everything about her neighbors, but she never was very well acquainted with herself.”


April 19, 2020, 4:00pm-8:00pm (UTC-8)
Ingmar Bergman Quotes

5 min
Everything is worth precisely as much as a belch, the difference being that a belch is more satisfying.
15 min
For me, the human face is the most important subject of the cinema.
30 min
I haven’t put an ounce of effort into my families. I never have.
15 min
I make all my decisions on intuition.
20 min
I’m very, very lazy. I love to sit in a chair and look out the window and do nothing.
30 min
When you’re as chaotic as I am, you need a very firm structure in your life.
10 min
I have such difficulty calming down – my stomach, my head, reality, everything.
15 min
If I let myself go, nothing will get done.
30 min
My education was very tough.
10 min
There is something joyous about not talking.


April 19, 2020, 9:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Namibian Proverbs

10 min
Learning expands great souls.
20 min
When a tiny toe is hurting the whole body stoops down to attend to it.
30 min
Envy and greed grow on the same stalk.
10 min
Let the first urge pass, wait for the second.
20 min
When the fish gets rotten, it all starts from the head.
10 min
From little date seeds, great things are born.
30 min
Love is a despot who spares no one.
10 min
When the fox is hungry, he eats butterflies.
10 min
God is in the details and so is the devil.
30 min
An old monkey never forgets how to climb trees.


April 20, 2020, 11:00am-3:00pm (UTC-8)
Japanese Idioms

10 min
one’s act, one’s profit
20 min
ten men, ten colors
30 min
wake from death and return to life
10 min
pulling water to my own rice paddy
20 min
evil cause, evil effect
30 min
not seeing is a flower
10 min
the weak are meat; the strong eat
10 min
ocean thousand, mountain thousand
30 min
drunken life, dreamy death
10 min
one life, one encounter


April 21, 2020, 8:00am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Icelandic Magical Staves

10 min Ægishjálmur
To induce fear, protect the warrior, and prevail in battle
20 min Draumstafir
To dream of unfulfilled desires
30 min Kaupaloki
To prosper in trade and business
10 min Lásabrjótur
To open a lock without a key
20 min Varnarstafur
Increases favor and happiness
30 min Vegvísir
To guide people through rough weather
10 min Þjófastafur
For use against thieves
10 min Stafur til að vekja upp draug
To invoke ghosts and evil spirits
30 min Skelkunarstafur
To make your enemies afraid
10 min Tóustefna To ward off foxes


April 21, 2020, 12:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Algerian Proverbs

10 min
A secret for two, soon a secret for nobody
20 min
Cross the loud river but don’t cross the silent one
30 min
Patience is the key to paradise
10 min
The one whose belly isn’t full of straw isn’t afraid of fire
20 min
Peace wins over wealth
30 min
The hand which gives is better than the one which receives
10 min
There is an excess of familiarity at the root of all hostility
10 min
A friend is someone who shares your happiness and your pains
30 min
A sensible enemy is better than a narrow-minded friend
10 min
The one who shows his fears ensures his salvation


April 22, 2020, 8:00am-12:00pm (UTC-8)

10 min secrets
20 min
luck and protection
30 min
have a hand in something
10 min
surveillance and attention
20 min four
30 min
grant wishes, win gambling, ward off evil spirits
10 min banana
10 min healing
30 min fire
10 min decorations


April 22, 2020, 12:00pm-3:00pm (UTC-8)
The Geomantic Figures, Part 1

10 min
roads, travels, or journeys
20 min
ending or completing things
30 min
aggression and passion
10 min
success that is dependent on outside help
20 min
beauty, peace, and passivity
30 min
loss, outside of one’s grasp
15 min
delays, setbacks, or bindings


April 22, 2020, 7:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
The Geomantic Figures, Part 2

10 min joy or happiness
20 min
starting or beginning new things
15 min
recovering things
15 min
sadness or mourning
10 min
getting or obtaining things
20 min
deception, violence, and vice
15 min good fortune
15 min
a large number of people
15 min
peace, wisdom, and purity


April 23, 2020, 12:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
The Book of Changes, Part 1

10 min strong action
20 min
going with the flow
30 min
gathering support
10 min youthful folly
20 min arriving
30 min conflict
10 min leading
10 min holding together
30 min
the taming power of the small
10 min treading


April 24, 2020, 8:00am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
The Book of Changes, Part 2

10 min greatness
20 min stagnation
30 min
fellowship with people
10 min
possession in great measure
20 min humbling
30 min enthusiasm
10 min following
10 min decay
30 min the forest
10 min contemplation


April 24, 2020, 6:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
The Book of Changes, Part 3

10 min
biting and chewing
20 min adorning
30 min splitting apart
10 min the turning point
20 min the unexpected
30 min potential energy
15 min
comfort and security
10 min critical mass
20 min the abyss
15 min radiance
10 min influence
20 min persevering
30 min retreat
10 min great maturity
20 min prospering


April 25, 2020, 12:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
The Book of Changes, Part 4

10 min
intelligence hidden
20 min family members
30 min polarizing
10 min obstruction
20 min taking apart
30 min diminishing
10 min augmenting
10 min breakthrough
30 min meeting
10 min
gathering together


April 25, 2020, 7:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
The Book of Changes, Part 5

10 min ascending
30 min entangled
5 min the well
30 min revolution
15 min the cauldron
30 min thunder
5 min keeping still
10 min advancement
15 min returning
30 min abundance
10 min the wanderer
20 min wind
15 min lake


April 26, 2020, 2:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
The Book of Changes, Part 6

10 min dissolution
10 min articulating
30 min inner truth
10 min
preponderance of the small
10 min already done
15 min
before completion


April 26, 2020, 4:00pm-6:00pm (UTC-8)
Rune Meanings, Part 1

30 min the self
10 min a partnership
10 min property
30 min separation
10 min power


April 26, 2020, 8:30pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Rune Meanings, Part 2

30 min
something concealed
30 min compulsion
30 min new beginning
30 min protection
30 min defense
30 min signals


April 27, 2020, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Rune Meanings, Part 3

10 min joy
20 min harvest
30 min opening
10 min warrior
20 min growth
30 min movement
10 min flowing water
10 min
destructive forces
30 min gateway
10 min transformation


April 28, 2020, 9:00am-11:00am (UTC-8)
Rune Meanings, Part 4

15 min
that which hinders
20 min reconciliation
30 min wholeness
30 min the unknowable


April 28, 2020, 11:00am-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Phrases from “Travels with Charley” by John Steinbeck

10 min
walked down to the river
20 min
had to escape from
30 min
difficult to analyze
10 min
can afford to be kind
20 min
nothing but strangers
30 min a ready remedy
10 min revived in spirit
10 min
a whole way of life
30 min
no fear and no hatred
10 min
untouched by human hands
30 min
maps are not reality
20 min
far too many things


April 28, 2020, 8:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Word Pairs, Part 1

10 min back and forth
20 min lock and key
30 min body and soul
10 min cause and effect
20 min pure and simple


April 29, 2020, 9:00am-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Word Pairs, Part 2

10 min
bed and breakfast
20 min down and out
30 min shirt and tie
10 min life or death
20 min bacon and eggs
30 min first and last
10 min shoes and socks
20 min lost and found
30 min black and white
5 min fish and chips
15 min bread and butter
30 min flesh and blood
10 min
signed and sealed
20 min brick and mortar
10 min
forgive and forget
30 min slip and slide
20 min nice and easy


April 29, 2020, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Word Pairs, Part 3

10 min
business and pleasure
20 min front and center
30 min null and void
10 min soap and water
20 min by and large
30 min fun and games
10 min sooner or later
10 min
peaches and cream
30 min
cloak and dagger
15 min give and take


April 30, 2020, 8:00am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Word Pairs, Part 4

10 min pen and pencil
20 min coat and tie
10 min
coffee and donuts
30 min cream and sugar
20 min
crime and punishment
10 min cup and saucer
20 min pots and pans
15 min prim and proper
20 min hammer and nail
30 min
supply and demand


April 30, 2020, 2:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Word Pairs, Part 5

10 min knife and fork
10 min
ladies and gentlemen
10 min law and order
30 min wait and see
20 min war and peace


April 30, 2020, 6:30pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Word Pairs, Part 6

10 min
hemmed and hawed
5 min high and dry
20 min sweet and sour
30 min tall and thin
10 min hot and bothered
20 min wine and cheese
15 min
tossed and turned
30 min touch and go
20 min
trials and tribulations


NaNoWordSprints Prompts from April 2020 (Part 1)

Here are the prompts I tweeted out on NaNoWordSprints during April 1-15 for Camp NaNoWriMo!

* * *

April 1, 2020, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Postcards, Part 1

10 min #933 – Devana, Slavic goddess of the spring Russia
20 min #1026 – The fool Switzerland
30 min #770 – Bookshop Guernsey
10 min #636 – Two cats The Netherlands
20 min #912 – We are good friends Taiwan
30 min #976 – White and red Estonia
10 min #1009 – Castle Japan
20 min #585 – Weaving and crafts Malaysia
30 min #1071 – Bridge France
5 min #153 – All in a row Belgium


April 2, 2020, 12:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Cultural Associations with Color, Part 1

10 min red
warmth, life, blood, love, destruction
20 min yellow sun, wisdom
30 min green
vegetation, growth, jealousy
10 min blue
infinity, deep water, peace, purity
20 min white
innocence, divine, harmony
15 min black
resurrection, fear of the unknown
30 min purple wealth, nobility
10 min pink
romance, sweetness
20 min orange
energy, vitality, caution, courage
15 min brown
comfort, stability, practicality


April 2, 2020, 8:00pm-11:00pm (UTC-8)
Common Phrases, Part 1

10 min taking up space
20 min
makes no difference
30 min
very strong opinions
10 min
reputation established
10 min
mind-blowing revelations
15 min
emotional transformation
30 min
treasure in the trash
5 min
center of a dispute


April 3, 2020, 12:00pm-2:00pm (UTC-8)
Shakespearean Phrases, Part 1

10 min
“As good luck would have it” — (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
20 min
“Brave new world” — (The Tempest)
30 min
“Break the ice” — (The Taming of the Shrew)
10 min
“Conscience does make cowards of us all” — (Hamlet)
20 min
“Crack of doom” — (Macbeth)


April 3, 2020, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Cultural Associations with Color, Part 2

10 min gray
balance, neutral, maturity
20 min gold
success, status, generous
30 min beige
dependable, boring, conservative
10 min silver
glamorous, high tech, graceful
20 min turquoise
spiritual, healing, sophisticated
30 min sky blue
freedom, self expression
30 min light green
calm, soothing, refreshing
10 min burgundy
rich, refined, expensive


April 4, 2020, 7:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Unusual Words

10 min argute shrewd
20 min gasconade
extravagant boasting
30 min previse
to predict an event
10 min scofflaw
someone who flouts the law
20 min dwaal
a dreamy, dazed, or absent-minded state
30 min logomachy
an argument about words
15 min thrutch
a narrow gorge or ravine


April 5, 2020, 7:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Idioms, Part 1

10 min against all odds
20 min
at cross-purposes
30 min
between a rock and a hard place
10 min borrowed time
20 min break the mold
30 min
change someone’s mind
10 min
come to someone’s rescue
15 min dark horse
30 min
deer in the headlights
5 min
elephant in the room
15 min fight fire with fire
30 min fool’s bargain


April 6, 2020, 12:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Idioms, Part 2

10 min
get this show on the road
20 min
go down in flames
30 min
handwriting on the wall
10 min head over heels
20 min
hit the ground running
30 min in the limelight
10 min
jump on the bandwagon
15 min know no bounds
30 min
like a duck to water
5 min
more than one bargained for


April 6, 2020, 8:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Idioms, Part 3

10 min now or never
20 min on the cusp
30 min peel the onion
10 min play by ear
20 min push one’s luck


April 7, 2020, 12:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Idioms, Part 4

10 min return the favor
20 min
scratch the surface
30 min short temper
10 min
slip through the cracks
20 min special delivery
30 min take it or leave it
10 min up to eleven
15 min
vertically challenged
30 min
where there’s smoke, there’s fire
5min x marks the spot


April 8, 2020, 12:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Interesting Words, Part 1

10 min
kalopsia – the delusion of things being more beautiful than they really are
20 min
toska – a dull ache of the soul, a sick pining, a spiritual anguish
30 min
abience – the strong urge to avoid something or someone
10 min
lissom – thin, graceful
20 min
sibylline – mysterious, cryptic
30 min
esperance – hope
10 min
sirimiri – a light rain, a fine drizzle
15 min
zemblanity – the inevitable discovery of what we would rather not know
30 min
rantipole – to be wild and reckless
5 min
psithurism – the sound of wind in the trees or rustling leaves


April 8, 2020, 8:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Interesting Words, Part 2

10 min
exulansis – the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because others are unable to relate to it
20 min
morii – the desire to capture a fleeting experience
30 min
sonder – the realization that each random passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own
10 min
absquatulate – to leave abruptly without saying goodbye
20 min
cockaigne – an imaginary place of extreme luxury and ease


April 9, 2020, 12:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Interesting Words, Part 3

10 min
coddiwomple – to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination
20 min
numinous – feeling both fearful and awed by what is before you
30 min
selcouth – something unfamiliar, unusual or wonderous
10 min
trouvaille – a lucky find
20 min
novaturient – a desire for powerful change in one’s life or situation
30 min
meraki – putting a part of yourself into what you’re doing
10 min
fernweh – wanderlust, an ache for distant places or a strong desire to travel
15 min
kopfkino – the act of playing out an entire scenario in your mind
30 min
schwellenangst – fear of crossing a threshold to embark on something new
5 min
komorebi – the sunlight that filters through the trees


April 10, 2020, 12:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Postcards, Part 2

10 min #44 – In the middle of town Poland
20 min #69 – Following the herd Russia
30 min #174 – Celebrations The Netherlands
10 min #197 – Listening Begium
20 min #210 – Mysterious signs Luxemburg
30 min #236 – Lucky charms Turkey
10 min #269 – Shopping Thailand
15 min #292 – Traditional dress, costume, or uniform India
30 min #349 – Being cute Belarus
5 min #398 – Exploring the ruins Czech Republic


April 10, 2020, 6:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Idioms, Part 5

10 min
add fuel to the fire
15 min
apple of someone’s eye
20 min
asking for a friend
30 min bag of tricks
15 min barrel of laughs
5 min
best of both worlds
10 min beyond the pale
15 min bounce back
20 min bubble over
30 min bundle of nerves
5 min
calm before the storm


April 11, 2020, 4:00pm-8:00pm (UTC-8)
Idioms, Part 6

10 min
deliver the goods
20 min dodge a bullet
30 min drop a hint
10 min
easier said than done
20 min
everything but the kitchen sink
10 min fall into a trap
20 min fit for a king
30 min
friends in high places
10 min game face
20 min
get one’s claws out


April 12, 2020, 7:15pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Idioms, Part 7

10 min
give someone the cold shoulder
20 min
go over someone’s head
30 min grand scheme
10 min guilty pleasure
10 min
hang in the balance
30 min
have second thoughts
10 min
hear through the grapevine
15 min hold a grudge
30 min house of cards
5 min
in the blink of an eye
15 min join forces
30 min kernal of truth


April 13, 2020, 12:30pm-2:00pm (UTC-8)
Shakespearean Phrases, Part 2

10 min
“Eaten me out of house and home” — (Henry IV Part II)
10 min
“Foregone conclusion” — (Othello)
10 min
“Good riddance” — (Troilus and Cressida)
10 min
“Love is blind” — (The Merchant of Venice)
10 min
“Play fast and loose” — (King John)
10 min
“Wild-goose chase” — (Romeo and Juliet)


April 13, 2020, 6:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Postcards, Part 3

10 min
going in one direction
15 min
finding transportation
15 min something blue
30 min victory
20 min the scenic route
10 min
not the greatest idea
10 min
getting distracted
30 min ruin
20 min neighbors
20 min hidden depths


April 14, 2020, 12:00pm-2:00pm (UTC-8)
Animal Symbolism, Part 1

10 min bear
solitude and hibernation
20 min bird
freedom and flight
30 min cat
curiosity and unpredictability
10 min crow signs and omens
20 min dog
loyalty and devotion
30 min dolphin
playfulness and innocence
10 min dove peace and trust
10 min fox
cunning and quick-witted
30 min lion
courage and bravery
10 min owl
insight and wisdom


April 15, 2020, 12:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Animal Symbolism, Part 2

10 min whale
listen to your inner voice
20 min vulture death and rebirth
30 min toad
transformation and change
10 min swan
grace and elegance
20 min squirrel
prepare for the future
30 min spider
weaving one’s fate
10 min seagull
seeing things from a different perspective
15 min seal vivid dreams
30 min raven
magic is in the air
5 min rabbit make a leap


April 15, 2020, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Animal Symbolism, Part 3

10 min praying mantis
listen to your instincts
20 min peacock pride and glory
30 min mockingbird
sing your own tune
10 min lady bug
good luck and prosperity
20 min hummingbird
adaptable and resilient
30 min horse
charisma and intelligence
10 min hare
quick and confident
15 min goose good fortune
30 min elephant
persistence and determination
5 min eagle
take advantage of opportunities

Postcard #427 – Faroe Islands

I sent this postcard to myself while I was on vacation in the Faroe Islands. I remember having a heck of a time trying to find where I could drop off the mail.

Anyways, it seems somewhat bittersweet revisiting this postcard right now when the entire world is pretty much on lockdown and no one can travel anywhere. One day, I’ll visit another faraway place and enjoy what the world has to offer.



Postcard #425 – Interior with a Screen

I have not heard of this artist (Edouard Vuillard) before and I’m not really into this style of painting. And no wonder. When I looked him up, I discovered that he was a French painter in the late 19th century and early 20th century. And he was part of an art movement called Les Nabis which is like a cross between impressionism and abstract art. I like impressionism. And I can appreciate abstract art if done well. But the mix between the two–or the transition, rather–is just a hodgepodge of stuff that seems way too random to me.

Even so, I do appreciate that the sender chose this even though it’s not my cup of tea. I learned about something that I was not aware of before.

(Note: there is no stamp on this because the sender sent this in an envelope made out of a sheet of printer paper.)



A Visit to the Beat Museum

Today, on a whim, I went to the Beat Museum which is located in North Beach. I admit, I didn’t know anything about the Beat Generation. I had this stereotypical view that they were a bunch of artists who dressed all in black in the 1950s and recited depressing poetry in dimly lit smokey jazz clubs. I probably should read more of their work to get a better sense of the era. But in any case, I came away with the feeling that these artists had a lot more crazy drama in their lives than the normal person.

Which brings up these questions: Why do so many famous artists have so much drama in their lives? Is experiencing drama necessary for producing art? Are well-adjusted people doomed to never produce good art? Or is that the nature of art itself–as a window to the artist’s angst in which we the viewers are just voyeristic rubberneckers?









Time for Another Pet Carrier

Moo hates carriers. Absolutely hates them. And she’s destroyed the latest one.


In all other respects, Moo is a pretty chill cat. She’s not too picky about her food. She likes belly rubs. And aside from meal times and an inexplicable tendency to step on keyboards occasionally, she usually sits beside me quietly while I’m working on stuff. But carriers. Oh boy, those are another thing altogether. I have yet to find one that doesn’t set her off.

A New Year, A New Decade

I prefer to call my occasional posting to this blog as intermittent notes while on hiatus. Life is busy and who knows what the future will bring. I also think that resolutions will never work, but there are a few things I’d like to do more of this year:

  • Post more to this blog.
  • Post more consistently to my postcard blog.
  • Write more regularly (instead of just binge writing during NaNoWriMo events).
  • Submit stories to places more often.
  • Read more books (and reduce the size of my to-be-read pile).

Will any of this actually happen? Who knows. We’ll see.