Go Bananas

With a little earworm help from meatpole.

Excel Blades

I’ve been using Excel Blades ever since my friend, Annie Howe, gave me some to try last summer. Previously, I had always used Xacto blades (hundreds and hundreds of them).

I’ve found Excel blades to be more consistently sharp, especially at the tip, which is what I use the most. As a surprise bonus, they sent me new handles today! Of all days, too.

I love them. You can follow the company on Instagram. They really are family owned and operated, and seem like very nice folks!

Excel Blades

Zine Scene

I had a very lucky thing happen today. I got to visit the special collections area of the library at work. There, I handled and read some very old science fiction zines. Fanzines, or “zines,” are amateur fan publications. From Wikipedia:

A science fiction fanzine is an amateur or semi-professional magazine published by members of science fiction fandom, from the 1930s to the present day. They were one of the earliest forms of fanzine, and at one time constituted the primary type of science-fictional fannish activity (“fanac”).

The first science-fiction fanzine, The Comet, was published in 1930 by the Science Correspondence Club in Chicago. The term “fanzine” was coined by Russ Chauvenet in the October 1940 issue of his fanzine Detours. “Fanzines” were distinguished from “prozines”, that is, all professional magazines. Prior to that, the fan publications were known as “fanmags” or “letterzines.”

 

Detours Zine, October 1940

Zine detail

Detours, October, 1940

I took dozens of photos – too many to share here. These are some of my favorites:

futurian-war-digest

Triton Cover Triton #2 cover

The Fantasy Amateur

Ray Bradbury Imagination cover

Imagination Zine

St. Louis

In an attempt to validate some theories I had regarding using WordPress in Higher Education, I attend the 3rd annual WPCampus conference in St. Louis. I had never been to St. Louis, and discovered was hotter and more humid than Baltimore. I was able to use the MetroLink to get from the airport to Washington University in St. Louis and to my hotel.

I met a lot of other folks who are using WordPress as their main institutional CMS. I learned what plugins are useful for universities. I learned about other CMS solutions. I learned about governance in higher ed (the politics are so vicious because the stakes are so low). I learned about Gutenberg. It was nice to be at a WordCamp again.

And, I learned a few things about the city itself. I visited the arch, which one really has to see in person to understand how astonishingly big it is.

The Arch in St. Louis

On the second night, I decided it was just too gross out to take the train to whatever was happening post conference, so I decided to wander around the neighborhood around the hotel. I found a place on Google Maps called El Burrito Loco. Upon entering, I wanted to move in and never leave.

I’m only sharing a few photos of the many I took, but some of my favorite aspects of this outstanding establishment are, a diorama of skeletons in a door transom:

loco burrito diorama

The fabulous art and colors. The COLORS! loco burrito

The giant skeletons partying outside the building: loco burrito

And the HUGE papier-mâché skeleton on the ceiling of the dining room. YES!!!

loco burrito

I ate very well that night – they had the best queso I’ve ever had – so, I decided to walk about, and I turned down Maryland Avenue (because, well, I’m from Maryland).

I happened upon a chess club, which I visited, and a chess themed cafe. As I looked across the street, I observed the world’s largest chess pieces, and the Word Chess Hall of Fame (which has an informative  web site).  I spent an hour and a half here and it was great!

historical Staunton chess pieces

Floating chess exhibit from London

The Word Chess Hall of Fame

World's Biggest Chess piece

I wish I had more time to explore St. Louis, but for a guy like me, I lucked into an amazing experience.

My Raccoon Life

It seems the raccoon reversion therapy is working. I feel more like myself every day!

Jim Doran is a RaccoonJim Doran is a raccoon