“Treat Your Own Back” by Robin McKenzie

A little under a year ago, I hurt my lower back. I followed all the advice I could find online, expecting that it would heal in a few months. I was taking 800 mg of Ibuprofen a day, which helped reduce the pain a bit, but I was in pain every day.

The pain lessened after a few months, but I was still in pain every single day.

About two weeks ago, I bought this book “Treat Your Own Back” by Robin McKenzie per some ancient Boingboing review. I read it in an evening, and did the set of stretches twice a day. They took under five minutes each time, and within a few days I was down to pain every other day or so, and two weeks in, it’s been a few days since I’ve had any back pain at all.

I don’t even notice my back! I will come back in a few months and update this post, but I really am amazed at how well this worked.

Acer R11 Chromebook

I picked up a Chromebook a week ago. It was a bit under $250, has touch, a lit keyboard, a reasonable trackpad, HDMI out, USB3, an SSD, run ChromeOS and also Android apps, and the screen can flip all the way around so it’s in tablet mode.

I’ve only played with it a little, but it’s reasonably snappy and seems to do a huge portion of what I use computers for.

I’ve been playing with Termux so I can have a reasonable Python environment, and I think I’m going to try some Django development on the device itself…

“The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe”

I absolutely loved this. It’s a 2017 Hugo nominee, and is one of the ones I read in preparation for voting.

It’s about an older woman who teaches at a woman’s college. One of her students leaves, and because the student is the daughter of one of the board members, the Vellitt Boe leaves to go bring her back.

Vellitt Boe lives in the Dreamlands, and as she travels across them we learn about her past and her environs.

The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe is one of the many “woke Lovecraft pastiches” that have come out in the past few years, but I’m not complaining at all. It’s wonderful and a complete delight.

I read this at a campground in the middle of Wisconsin over Fourth of July holiday, and there’s a small shoutout to a town about 30 minutes away from where I was. Small world!

“Carson Crosses Canada”

This is a cute picture book about an older lady who travels with her dog across Canada to visit her sister. My 3 year old liked it and asked to read it multiple times. He likes the map page the best 🙂

I enjoyed having a woman without children as the main character–not because it’s emphasized, but I think that’s relatively rare in picture books. I like how they included a variety of places in Canada that look different, as many folks in the States just think of Canada as a frozen-over field of snow.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Hugo Awards

This year is the first year I signed up to be a Hugo voter. I had read most of the nominated novels, some of the short stories, and had some strong opinions about the new award this year–Best Series.

I had forgotten that a few years ago they added “The Hugo Voter Packet”, where many of the publishers send copies of the Hugo-nominated works to the Hugo voters.

As part of this, DAW authorized sending every single word in the October Daye-verse to every Hugo voter. I have read all the novels already, but there are dozens of short stories. I get the newer ones through Patreon, but not having to track down where each of the older ones are published is… I don’t even know. Priceless.

Anyway, I’m ridiculously excited to be able to vote in these awards!

“Ninefox Gambit” by Yoon Ha Lee

I really, really enjoyed Ninefox Gambit. I’m an experienced reader but I had difficulty getting into it at the beginning.

It’s about a universe where they discovered that strict adherence to holidays and calendrical events can influence reality, and allow “exotics”, or extremely powerful and weird weapons. It’s about a woman with another personality implanted in her–a traitor, but one who has never lost yet.

If I had to compare it to anything, I’d say, “Too Like the Lightning“, even though they’re extremely different.

My only complaint is that it does not feel like a complete story. The sequel is coming.

Tea Tin Planter

I wanted to transplant my baby snake plants into some tea tins I had around, but the tins weren’t waterproof. I designed a little planter in Fusion 360.
It fits inside of the tins, has some holes from drainage, and a lip to hold some water in. I 3D printed a few in this beautiful blue filament Matthew picked up from matterhackers. It’s actually pretty enough I’m not certain I want to put them in the tins now!

(If you make some, remember to put a little gravel in the bottom to help the drainage situation.)

I uploaded the Tea Tin Planter files over at Thingiverse.

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty is a closed-room murder mystery in space with clones!

I got hooked on this! As the characters discover their situation, and all the weird things that are going on, I knew that Mur was going to stitch them all together so it made sense by the end–and WHO DID IT?!!?!!

I appreciate that Mur Lafferty is getting better and better with each book. This one is quite good–but it is not perfect. There were maybe three or four times I thought something was hokey or silly–and all but one of those times it was crucial to how the the plot works out, so stick with it. (I think that one of the characters was so good at a skill of hers that it was almost a superpower.)