Kickstarter for The Reader: War for the Oaks

If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been neglecting the blog for a while, it’s because I’ve been working on putting together the Kickstarter for the physical book version of The Reader: War for the Oaks. Along the way I had to pretty much learn videography from scratch, so my video ought to be entertaining for that at least.

Today happens to be my 146th birthday – if I was born on the planet Mercury – so today only there’s a pledge category for a 24×16 print for $146. (Kickstarter norm $180, regular price $250.)

We’re at 40% funded going into Minicon, which makes me pretty happy so far. I’ve got promo stuff and will be carrying around a couple of proof copies of the book, so feel free to seek me out at the con.

Speedy Call for Submissions

Lydy at the Van Dusen House.

Lydy at the Van Dusen House.

So, I’m working on the prepress design for the print version of The Reader: War for the Oaks, which I’m planning to kickstart in April. (If you’ve been wondering why there’s been no movement for a while, it’s because I decided I wanted to run the Kickstarter during Minicon.)

Anyway, it feels light on text to me, and I have a few more pages to work with than I need, so I thought I’d commission essays in appreciation of War for the Oaks to go into the book along with the photos. I figure that’s something well in the wheelhouse of a lot of people reading this. (For clarity’s sake, that’s in appreciation of Emma Bull’s novel, not of my photos.)

Payment is $50 plus a copy of the book. Update: Deadline May 1. Submissions via email to

Update 2: Deadline extended to May 1. I’ll also consider poems or other things that may not technically be essays, but are in appreciation of WFTO, can be printed in a book, and don’t have copyright issues (so no fanfic or fanart please).

Stainer Habanero

This is an Italian chocolate, and very dark for a pepper chocolate at 95%. They even go to the trouble of listing the percentage of pepper included (0.1%) which I appreciate.


The bar is small but thick, divided into eight squares which for once actually break apart cleanly, and a single square is a reasonable size for a small snack. However it comes packaged in a plastic bag that’s easier to tear than open, making it moderately difficult to eat in more than one sitting.. A nice short ingredient list, though with eccentric capitalization: Cocoa mass, Sugar, cocoa Butter, Habanero Chili, soya lecithin, natural Vanilla. Stainer Chocolates has a lot of interesting flavors, few of which I’ve been able to find. I’m probably stuck with that given my unlikelihood of being in Tuscany anytime soon.

Early on the dark chocolate is the prominent flavor, though there’s a little bit of pepper behind it that’s distinctly habanero. Capsaicin is very mild at the beginning, with a moderate-to-high kick in the aftertaste, which is mostly heat and not very flavorful. The chocolate itself is dark but lacking in character, and the soy lecithin smoothness detracts from a bar that’s desperately looking for some reason to be memorable.

stainerhabaneroOverall the bar is tasty but not very interesting. There’s that little background habanero flavor at first bite that teases something, but no follow-through. I will probably forget having tried this.

Too Young for the Old; Too Old for the Young

So, somewhere around here I turned 35. Actually, it was a week ago now, but the way this winter has gone, maybe I should be proud to be only a week behind. I’m also a week behind on the traditional turning-35 celebration, watching Company by yourself. (OK, maybe that’s not traditional for my generation, but the mid-2000s revival has the double bonus of being both incredible and on Netflix.)

This year has been strange and polarized. The first three-quarters of it was great and fun and productive, and then somewhere around the beginning of December I ran headlong into a wall. I’ve spent the winter building a bridge in front of me and hoping I can build faster than I’m moving. It’s reminiscent of 2007, although not as frantic, and hopefully not lasting as long. I have some hope that spring will end it, presuming it ever comes.

At the beginning of the year I got writing back, and at the end I’ve lost it again. The first nine months of the year were full of photographs, and lately I wouldn’t manage to take the camera out of the house if it weren’t for the baby tapir. I haven’t been able to keep up on much of anything lately, falling off more as the winter goes on. I really hate having a late-winter birthday, because by the time I get here I’ve often lost the last vestiges of optimism. Looking back at what I’ve done this year, some of it has been really good; but I can’t really access the experience, emotionally, from here at the end of all things February. It’s easier to think of what I haven’t done.

Which is also kind of Bobby’s problem. All he thinks about is what he doesn’t have. And I think I’m going to do my best to spend 35 learning not to be Bobby.

Top 13 of 2013: Dragon

This year the January print sale is going to cover all my top 13 of 13 photos, and run all month through Feb. 7. Last year I did them in chronological order but this time I’m just choosing them as I post them.

September 30, 2013, Montreal. Click to embiggen.

September 30, 2013, Montreal. Click to embiggen.

We happened to be in Montreal for the Chinese lantern festival again this year, and this time we went at night. In fact this is the same tree and rock from “Phoenix,” which continue to be great compositional elements though from a different direction. I especially like the way the light from the lantern shows the tree’s fractal nature against the dark night sky.

Top 13 of 2013: White, Red, Green

This year the January print sale is going to cover all my top 13 of 13 photos, and run all month through Feb. 7. Last year I did them in chronological order but this time I’m just choosing them as I post them.

April 19, 2013, Eagan, MN. Click to embiggen.

April 19, 2013, Eagan, MN. Click to embiggen.

Going back to the end of last winter, I went for a morning walk in an April blizzard and came home with, among other things, this huge (13991×7783 pixels) panorama. The combination of fresh snow with the colors of the trees mad a very nice winter landscape. 30% off regular price.