Jukka’s Literary Journeys

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Jukka’s Literary Journeys

Out 5, 2022, 1:38 am

Hey all! I’m still alive and kicking, and honestly better than ever. Some of you might remember my shock at the cost of living in California, a little over a decade ago, but I’m finally back in my beloved cheese state! No offense to California, but I think the state was trying to kill me.

Disgusted with Amazon (for all the things, even if I do need it for everyday life), I popped LT open to share some titles with a friend and decided to try getting back into my grove, here. I introduced him to A Wizard of Earthsea, Dune, Dragonriders of Pern, and Howl’s Moving Castle. I’ve already spent some Audible (i know) credits to spam books at him, and told him that I can introduce him to other friends who’ve suffered my book spamming if he’s feeling smothered. It’s how I show I care. ^_^

Oh! I’m also reading Secret Agent Mom, which I got for my mom on Mother’s Day last year. Between her and myself, wanna guess who read it first? My dad. Once I finish it, we’ll just pretend I was always ahead... ^^;

I must head to bed now. Cheers all! I hope you’re doing well!

Out 5, 2022, 8:16 am

>1 justjukka: Welcome back!

Out 5, 2022, 9:10 am

>1 justjukka: Indeed, welcome back! Where in the cheese state are you located? (I lived in northern IL for over a decade.)

Out 5, 2022, 12:19 pm

>1 justjukka: I'm confuzzed (but then I do live at the other end of Earth from you). I distinctly recall that in 1998 when I visited the Smithsonian, they had a "Folk Festival" and the featured state was Wisconsin. And the best bit of that was some cheese that this Sarf Effican can only describe as "lekkkkerrrrrrr" (excellent, moreish, memorable and any other yay-word you want.) The young lady demonstrating it gave me to understand that Wisconsin is known for cheese. But now Clam comes and muddies the water by talking about Illinois. Could someone please enlighten the ignorant foreigner?

Out 5, 2022, 12:38 pm

>4 hfglen: Since Wisconsin is directly north of Illinois, I assume Clare lived near the border.

Out 5, 2022, 2:36 pm

>4 hfglen: Wisconsin has very much a cheese-centric culture (we should all be so lucky!), partly evidenced by the cheesehead hats worn by fans of the Green Bay Packers NFL team:

Other wannabe-cheese states include Minnesota, Michigan, and Vermont.

Editado: Out 5, 2022, 2:54 pm

>4 hfglen: & >5 ScoLgo: Yes, I could have spit across the state line! (Not literally.) I assumed she was in Wisconsin. Sorry, I should have clarified...

Out 5, 2022, 3:59 pm

>6 Darth-Heather: I attended a Packers vs. Seahawks game way back when the Seahawks and Mariners both played in the since demolished Kingdome. About 40% of the crowd looked like your photo. Green Bay, WI is nearly 2,000 miles from Seattle so those folks traveled a looonng way to see their team play on the road. As I recall, the Packers notched a win for their fans that day.

>7 clamairy: While preparing/researching for a visit to Milwaukee, WI in 2019, I noticed Milwaukee and Chicago, IL have pretty much merged into a single megalopolis.

Out 5, 2022, 4:05 pm

>8 ScoLgo: Yup. That has happened to a lot of close cities, but especially ones bordering a large body of water or riverfront, it seems. (They are both on Lake Michigan, for those unfamiliar with the area.) Photos shot from the space station at night make everything from Portland, Maine down to DC look like one city.

Out 6, 2022, 8:36 am

Yeah, Milwaukee and Chicago are very close geographically and now look like an amoeba trying to divide or something. I never go south of Wausau all that much.

From what I understand, Cheesehead was an insult, but Packer fans turned it on its head and wear it proudly now an it's lost its sting entirely.

Out 6, 2022, 9:55 am

>5 ScoLgo: >6 Darth-Heather: >7 clamairy: Thank you for the clarification. >6 Darth-Heather: has also given me an idea of the origin of the hat worn by the young lady at the Smithsonian.

Incidentally, >10 Bookmarque: may be interested to know that a term for Hollanders, "Kaaskop", is an exact translation of Cheesehead, and arose for the same reason (think Edam or Gouda if you need to).

Out 6, 2022, 6:55 pm

Thanks all!  For simplicity's sake, let's just say that I'm now in Milwaukee.  It's equidistant from everyone I want to see, and still a reasonable distance from relatives.

>11 hfglen:  Echoing everyone else, I think there's a decidedly midwestern culture, with subtle variations over which we can wage a good-natured culture war. ^_^   I felt the transition during my coast-to-coast drive, and then settling into my new residence.  I've always grumbled about Nebraska, due to a difficult road trip when I was 10, but I really enjoyed passing through, this last time.  I even enjoyed the abundant view of farmland that I hear most people call boring!

Out 7, 2022, 1:11 pm

So...I didn’t expect to enjoy the Halo books as much as I did.  I read the first five books in exchange for a friend reading Skyward (even if I have no idea if he’s actually finished it). The Flood was tedious to get through, and I didn’t care for the author’s interpretation of women as hyper-empathetic, other-worldly creatures.  First Strike was as good as the first book, and Ghosts of Onyx was heartbreaking, but only because Nylund makes you care so damn much about the characters.  Contact Harvest felt relatable, since we’re getting the backstory of a likable character from the previous books, who’d gone through his own personal hell before we originally meet him.  I enjoyed reading the reviews of that one, because it seems Halo fans weren’t prepared for a bit of genre jumping at the end of the book.

That was all flow of consciousness between loads of laundry, so I hope it makes sense.  I have so much adulting to do, today. 😩 At least I can have ice cream for breakfast.

Out 13, 2022, 4:18 pm

My stomach is queasy this morning, so I gotta stay home from work. :( It’s most likely just a symptom of traveling, but next week is the end of my contract, and I’ve really enjoyed this job.

Molly Harper’s Mystic Bayou series has become one of my security blankets to cheer myself up.  I typically don’t go for trashy romance, but I found a lot to love in these novels.  A running theme is genuine friendship, which motivates the characters and, in some ways, even drives the plot.  Sure, they need to save the world, but these are characters who could be friends in a mundane world, too.

Series order!
1) How to Date Your Dragon (I read this one second)
2) Love and Other Wild things
2.5) Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues (I accidentally read this one, first)
3) Selkies are a Girl’s Best Friend
4) Always Be My Banshee
4.5) One Fine Fae
5) Shifters in the Night (Mistook this oen for Selkies)
6) A Farewell to Charms

I kinda hope someone picks this up and continues building the world.  There are enough loose threads to go on, and I’d love to see them move about the established setting.

Nov 2, 2022, 8:08 pm

Has anyone read Sabriel?  It’s a favorite of a friend, but I have no idea what’s going on in this story, and I haven’t found anything that really explains the plot or motivation. :(

Nov 3, 2022, 1:48 am

>15 justjukka: I have read it and I love those books. But if it isn't for you, there's no shame in ditching it for something more agreeable! There are so many books to read in the world.

Dez 15, 2022, 5:27 pm

>16 reconditereader: Much appreciated! I'd really like to understand the motivation behind the plot so I can enjoy it with my friend.  My understanding feels like manual with a missing paragraph.

Dez 15, 2022, 5:57 pm

I celebrated my 13th Thingaversary (November 30th) by completing the NaNoWriMo challenge for the first time.  It’s just a Harry Potter inversion fan fiction, so it won’t be going up in stores.  The motivation behind the exercise was to actually complete a novel-length project and learn from the experience.  It was still a challenge, even with the built-in scaffolding, and now I have friends and a sibling checking for continuity errors (in case I changed my mind on something partway through and didn’t update the rest of the story), crutch words/phrases, and anything that would require knowledge of the OG universe to understand (I want my story to stand on its own).

I’m currently reading a bunch of political nonfiction, particularly as journalists, pundits, and politicians compile their experiences over the past decade.  My fan fiction project spans all seven Harry Potter books, so these insights could help me write a strong Ministry narrative.  Despite how little of my word count they take up, I want these characters to have believable biases and motivations, and I want to avoid any mustache-twirling villains.

In fiction, I blitzed through The Lost Metal when it dropped.  I hope to enjoy the next era as much as I enjoyed this one.

Now to continue celebrating my NaNoWriMo victory.

Dez 15, 2022, 10:02 pm

Happy Thingaversary! And congrats on the NaNWroMo novel. That's seriously impressive.

Dez 16, 2022, 2:58 am

>18 justjukka: Well done on completing the NaNoWriMo. That is quite an achievement.

Also, happy Thingaversary. Completing NanoWriMo is a very impressive way to celebrate your Thingaversary. You do realise, of course, that now you have to complete NaNoWriMo to celebrate every Thingaversary? You have set a precedent that you will have to follow in future years.


Dez 16, 2022, 5:25 pm

Thank you both! 🥰

>20 pgmcc: I had not considered that. Hoo-boi…guess I’d better get an early start on my outlines. 😰

Dez 16, 2022, 7:40 pm

>18 justjukka: Huge praise for your accomplishment!

Dez 17, 2022, 3:31 pm

>22 MrsLee: Thank you! 💜

Dez 18, 2022, 11:03 pm

Why We Did It is both an earnest retrospective, and a much-needed read for anyone who’s been stuck in a professional rut.  Chapter 9 (entitled “The Enablers”) should speak to anyone who’s ever felt obligated to stay where they are (SOMEBODY needs to do it, right??), or anyone who wonders why the hell colleagues behave in a disingenuous manner.  I sign onto projects because I care about them, and I was TODAY years old when I realized that I might be surrounded by mouth-breathing hacks (who clearly understand the game) who only want to be in the vicinity of where stuff is happening.  I mean, I knew this happened in politics, but the way this *idiot describes the whole shebang makes me see how this could apply to my own work.

*I call Miller an “idiot” only because I see way too many parallels between his business practices/motivations and mine (even if I do get hamstrung by a functional conscience at square one).  I feel like we could go out for drinks and spend an entire evening swapping war stories, intermixed with pictures of kids and pets.

Dez 19, 2022, 2:56 am

>24 justjukka:
Your post is interesting and I would have been keen to read it a few year ago to learn more about my own work environment. Now that I am only 64 days, including weekends and holidays, to my retirement, I do not feel the same level of urgency. :-) For anyone working in a professional capacity it is important to learn what you can about the motivations of the people you work with.

Dez 19, 2022, 2:04 pm

>25 pgmcc: 100% all of what you said!  The beautiful irony of it is that this is better read without a sense of urgency (even though I devoured it in two sittings).  I’m deliberately vague about what the retrospective covers, because I don’t want to run afoul of the NO POLITICS rule, but the journalist’s position in the whole mess is quite relatable for anyone who’s had workaholic tendencies.

I take contract positions for pay, so that’s ever-changing (and unreliable, so I’m incredibly lucky my husband has a job that supports both of us), and frequently volunteer with organizations that can’t afford to pay professionals with my skillset.  The latter is more consuming, because everyone involved really does want to be there, so it’s easy to get lost in rush.  I felt blind-sided when I realized how strongly most orgs conflate communications and marketing (the latter being, arguably, a subset of the former), so when I’m trying to hammer out a comms problem, my colleagues are working from a framework that tells them “make number go up”.  I was in a breakout session at a conference that looked at the community our NPO serves (the name of the breakout was, in fact, COMMUNITY), and it took me days to figure out why one of my colleagues focused on redirecting online traffic from one platform to another, rather than focusing on the groups that comprise our community.  Despite making the NPO such a significant part of their very identity, their driving motivation is still “make number go up”, and rarely does anyone seem to ask themselves, “Why am I here?”

Dez 20, 2022, 3:05 am

>26 justjukka:
People behave as they are measured, and if the measure is the numbers, no matter what wonderfully humane and caring language the organisation uses, when the number are not going the right way the actions follow the numbers rather than the wonderfully humane and caring language used by the organisation. I have been in organisations that appear ideal, but when the numbers start going the wrong way the organisation resorts to good old short sighted viciousness.

Jan 6, 5:09 pm

I stumbled upon A Study in Scarlet Women on Audible.  I think the first three books are currently free w/ subscription, I enjoyed them, so I recommend giving this series a look. ^_^

Mar 22, 8:30 pm

I am all caught up on Case Files of an Urban Witch, and resisting the urge to purchase more books before my next move.  After living in the SF Bay Area for a decade, my head is kinda spinning from how quickly we’ve found and purchased a house, here.  I was working on a job application when a lovely distraction popped up from Redfin.  I genuinely enjoy looking through housing architecture, so it was nothing when I shared one listing with friends, saying, “We should buy this house for my birthday!”

At the end of the day, my husband and I sat down and scrutinized the listing.  To our horror, it fit almost everything we’d want in a house!  We’d been sure that we would want to wait at least two years before finding a place to settle (assuming we’re capable of such a thing), so this was a surprise find, indeed.&nsbp; We visited the property on my birthday, put in a bid, and it was accepted a few days later!

Now what to do for my husband’s birthday...

Mar 22, 11:00 pm

>29 justjukka: Congrats! I hope your new home has plenty of room for book shelves.

Mar 22, 11:26 pm

>29 justjukka: What a great gift! Congratulations.

Mar 23, 12:04 am

>30 clamairy: Indeed! I can picture where I want them, but I’m feeling bereft without blueprints. It’s a small thing, but since I’ve been in rentals for the past two decades, I’m used to having blueprints at the ready to plan before we move in. The previous owners didn’t prioritize blueprints, so I can’t block out my library with precision. :(

>31 MrsLee: Thank you! It’ll be nice to finally build a home.

Mar 23, 1:40 am

>29 justjukka:
That sounds like a really happy birthday. Well done and good luck with the new house.

Mar 23, 7:34 am

>29 justjukka: How exciting! I hope you have a great time creating your perfect home!

Mar 28, 11:26 pm

Thank you both!  I admit, the closer we get, the more I'm holding my breath, because I expect something to get in the way of the closing. ^^;

Editado: Ago 8, 7:46 pm

Ah shoot, I left y’all hanging!  We closed at the end of March and hired movers to haul all the over-sized stuff on the first of April.  We’ve been slow on moving everything else, since breaking our lease or letting it run out would cost us roughly the same.  Not being in a rush, for once, is really nice.

Literary updates!

I’ve been uploading my NaNoWriMo project to fanfiction.net by chapter, making final edits before each post.  My brother assisted me with chapter 5, and learned why I glossed over the action scene in my first draft.

    Him: Less than a page took 2 hours to write!
    Me: Yeah, that sounds about right.
    Him: It sucks!

In reading, I accepted a recommendation for Her Royal Spyness and stopped at Queen of Hearts for reasons stated in my scathing review.  I also reviewed Naughty in Nice, because, while I enjoyed the story, overall, the fanfic’ication of Coco Chanel felt irresponsible.  I took a refund for books 7 and 8, and I’m happy to leave the series on a high note with The Twelve Clues of Christmas.  I think I’ve been ruined by the quality in Sherry Thomas’s Lady Sherlock series.

Maio 20, 10:38 pm

>36 justjukka: Happy to hear the move went/is going smoothly. That sounds like a great pace for what can be a jarring process.

Maio 22, 3:23 pm

Thanks!  It really is.  And when I start to feel overwhelmed, this being our second move in under two years, I tell myself, “Just breathe. This is the last one.”  At least, until old age prevents us from climbing stairs, but that’s a ways off.  I’m still pretty excited about settling somewhere.  I think I’m the only thirty-something I know who’s tired of even traveling. ^^;

Maio 22, 8:07 pm

>38 justjukka: Congrats! That's a smart way to move. I hope the new house is perfect.

Maio 25, 3:29 am

>39 Karlstar: Thank you!  It's imperfect in ways that are perfect for us!  We have a tenant/roommate joining us in a couple weeks, and I hope everything will be satisfactory for them.  They are bringing their dog, and seem excited to help me in some insane undertakings, like unearthing a neglected garden area.