Current Project — Historical Photographs!

I will probably wonder until my dying day what happened to the photos Thomas and I took between our wedding and the purchase of our first digital camera, which I think was a Sony Mavica from 1997.

I mean, they should be around here somewhere. Right?

What I really would like is pictures we took of San Antonio in 1993 through 1997.

I don’t know where our earliest digital photos are. I suspect that Thomas has them somewhere.

What I would like to do, both here and on my YouTube channel, is compare public domain historical pictures (so prior to 1928) with my own photos, the older the better. I’m currently going through the photo collection from the University of Texas at San Antonio

I will probably go and take current pictures of all of these places for comparison purposes. But having a 1920 picture, a 1994 picture, and a 2023 picture would be even better.

I’m going to have a semi-Germane Amazon Link today, Miraflores, San Antonio’s Mexican Garden of Memory, by Anne Elise Urritia. I’m linking to the paperback version simply because there are a lot of photos, maps, diagrams, etc, and I think it might be easier to flip back and forth in a physical copy. I’ve long been fascinated by Miraflores, which sits along Hildebrand Road near Broadway, and so when I saw a book on it with historical photos, I snatched it right up. Miraflores is owned by the city now, and maybe someday I can safely go and explore it.

YouTube Channel

In order to monetize my YouTube channel (I would like to make money here, but I am starting this YouTube channel specifically to make money), my videos need to be a particular length.

My first attempt is going to be a longish short. I think I’m going to have Alex stitch the short pieces together and just post it as-is, then once I’ve had a year or so of posting under my belt, I’m going to try the same video so that we can see how much/if my skills have improved.

I think maybe I need to do a trailer or something just to get my feet wet on longer videos. I want to write up a script on my history with regard to San Antonio and then sit down with Alex and go over historical photos of the city (and thus those that are in the public domain) to weave the two together in a way that makes sense and also reaches the time limit to monetize the video.


Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is The Runaways, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I have long loved Snyder’s writing. And the fact that her books span so many genres doesn’t hurt either. The Runaways is a book about Dani and her friends Stormy and Pixie. Dani hates the town of Rattler Springs, Nevada, where she and her mother live, and she very much wants to go home to California. Stormy wants, for reasons of his own, to go with her. Pixie has a “big imagination” and also has enough money to help Dani and Stormy with their plans to escape. Snyder wrote The Runaways in 2000, when I was already an adult, but I’m sure I would have loved it just as much had it come out when I was a kid.

My First Novel

I’ve been working on something that I keep hoping will be my first novel. I keep bumping into the problem that I don’t know who the characters are, and therefore don’t know what they’ll do.

I’m thinking about cheating and making my characters original characters in a fanfiction story. I’ve had pretty good luck with that technique. I’ve created love interests, friends, family members, all sorts of things in all sorts of fandoms. I can flesh out the original characters by watching how they react to the characters in the fandom.

Right now I feel like I’m playing handball against drapes. There’s nothing for my characters to really *do* because there’s nothing for them to react to. Does that make sense?

And then I can scrape the serial numbers off of the fandom characters and have them be family and friends back home.

I may be onto something here.

I wonder if I have any books in any fandoms that I could base this in, and then use that as a Germane Amazon Link?

Well, until then, here’s a Gratuitous Amazon Link: Book 4 of Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus, The House of Hades. Riordan finds his balancing-six-pov-characters groove. Yay!

Decluttering Project — Yarn

So. Much. Yarn.

This story starts in 1974. Ish. 1973? Maybe?

Anyway, my aunt was pregnant and my mom decided to learn to knit so that she could make something for the baby. So she bought two skeins of yarn and a pair of #4 knitting needles and started taking knitting classes from one of her friends.

Turns out she couldn’t make heads or tails out of what Lois was telling her, so she gave up.

Around that time, I got away from my parents in the basement of the store that was currently in the Marshall Field & Co. Building. When I got away, I found their yarn department. I so longed to touch all of that yarn and I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for my meddling parents. They told me that yarn was for people who knit.

I decided then and there that someday, somehow, I was going to learn how to knit.

When I became a teenager, I told my mom that I was going to learn how to knit. Her response? “If I couldn’t learn how to knit, you can’t learn how to knit.”

I learned how to knit.

I recently started updating my Ravelry account with all of my yarns and projects, and I knew I had more yarn than I’d been able to find so far. I found a bunch of it, some of which is going to be a longer-term untangling project.

Gratuitous Amazon Link! We’re finishing off Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Arthur trilogy with King of the Middle March, in which Arthur goes off to the Fourth Crusade. The Fourth Crusade was a G.D. mess. The army of crusaders couldn’t pay for their ships with the result that, rather than “freeing” Jerusalem from the Muslims, the crusader army ended up sacking two Christian cities.

YouTube Channel, Part II

So I took my first stab at recording for the YouTube channel. I got downtown an hour and a half before I was supposed to be meeting Ray and decided to get footage from the River Walk side.

I started out filming the river side of the area where the Veramendi house used to be, because that is where Ben Milam was killed. I was keeping one eye on the ground while I filmed with my cell phone. Maybe I can afford a fancy camera like the professional YouTubers have, but for now, it’s just me and my cell phone. I totally stayed out of the river. Two snaps up for me there.

However, I did not see that there was a step down in my way and that footage ends with me dropping down about eight or nine inches. Alex is going to be my editor, and he wants to keep that part in.

I definitely want to post the footage I took this weekend on that channel, if only so that anyone who eventually decides to watch the videos can see how far I am going to come over the coming . . . months? years?

Let’s go with years.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is the second book in the Arthur trilogy by Kevin Crossley-Holland, At the Crossing Places. At the Crossing Places is more of the coming of age of Arthur. Arthur becomes a squire and begins training for knighthood. We get some romance and more of Arthur’s friendship with Gatty.

I’m Thinking About Making a YouTube Channel

A lot of the stuff I write about, as you may know if you’ve seen other posts, is history and public parks and the history of public parks.

So I’m thinking about maybe kinda starting a YouTube channel about the history of parks that I’ve visited. Ones here in town and others that I’ll visit in the future. Like if I can ever get the time and money, and Alex can get the time, I’d like to visit Carlsbad Caverns.

I’m also thinking about a sideline of doing book reviews in said parks. So I might start with Milam Park in downtown San Antonio, talking about the location’s history as the city cemetery and how Milam was killed in the yard of the Veramendi house during the Siege of Bexar.

I even have found a picture of the Veramendi Palace that I’m 95%* certain is in the public domain.

I’m probably going to meet Ray downtown tomorrow for dinner, and so I’m thinking about going in early and bringing my camera and, well, a book. Then I can take footage of the park and the area on Soledad Street where the Veramendi house used to be. I also can shoot some images of the book in the park that I can use to make a book review video.

I was just looking at my library. I’m going through my Gratuitous Amazon Links chronologically as I’ve read the books. For this, I may go alphabetical by author starting with my general reading, then doing book club books, and ending with special collections, like the Rick Riordan Presents books.

If I do that, then my first book should be the book that I cannot decide where to put because it has seven distinct authors — Fatal Throne: The Six Wives of Henry VIII Tell All, by Jennifer Donnelly (Introduction and Anna of Cleves), Candace Fleming (Katharine of Aragon), Stephanie Hemphill (Anne Boleyn), Lisa Ann Sandell (Jane Seymour), Linda Sue Park (Catherine Howard), Deborah Hopkinson (Kateryn Parr), and MT Anderson (Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I). My copy also has some dog teeth marks on it because it was in the living room when Felicity came out from under her sedation after her spaying. Oh. Germane Amazon Link!

*95% is the percentage I assign to things that I am certain about, but I still want to leave some wiggle room just in case.

I Got My Flu Shot on Saturday

And my arm’s still a little sore. I didn’t have any side effects, though, so there’s that.

I only have had side effects to a flu shot a couple of times. However, COVID boosters usually leave me flat on my hind end, so I figured that scheduling my flu shot for a day when I had the next day off would be a good thing.

And since I didn’t have a reaction, I got to run errands on Sunday. I took an extra copy of Broken (In the Best Possible Way), by Jenny Lawson (Germane Amazon Link!), to a friend.* Then I went to the HEB Central Market and got a loaf of olive bread. Then I went to Michaels and ordered a shadow box made for my fan and invitation from Phoenix’s wedding so that I could display them.

So that got one book out of my house and provided containment for two mementos. I will have this house looking like a home goods catalog yet. Or maybe not.

*How’d I end up with an extra copy? I bought one from Powell’s to participate in the virtual book tour for the book. Phoenix is a fan of Jenny’s writing, so I wanted to get a personalized autographed copy for her for her birthday, but they weren’t taking orders for personalized copies at the time. So I bought a regular autographed copy just in case, but ended up not needing it because they started taking orders again in time for her birthday.

Decluttering Project

I’m finding a *lot* of clutter. Our garbage bags have been full of stuff.

I’m finding a lot of stuff that I think have some kind of sentimental value.

Tonight, I found a lot of beads from when I tried to make a bit of money making jewelry. I made the jewelry, but I never was able to figure out how to sell it. Maybe that should be my next project?

I also found several kids’ books that I remember loving, most notably The Ghost Next Door, by Wylly Folk St. John and Down a Dark Hall, by Lois Duncan (Germane Amazon Links!).

I think that I was reading Down a Dark Hall when I scared myself as a young teenager. It was the first time I was left alone at night and I heard something that sounded like a glass jar rolling across the floor coming up the vent. I was terrified but I went downstairs to see what had made that noise. I never did figure it out, and, anyhow, it must have been a noise from inside the furnace. Right?

I also dug up a new box of what looks like Thomas’s old paperwork and things. I’ll probably go through that one next.

IDEK What’s Going on With the Weather

So we had that nice respite and a bit of rain. With the dip back into the high 90s (35-37 degrees Celsius), my summer Seasonal Affective Disorder abated enough for me to realize that that’s what’s been going on. Yay!

We’re back into the low 100s again (38+ degrees Celsius) and now Texas’s electric grid is all messed up. Yay.

The last two days, we came very close indeed to needing to have rolling blackouts to alleviate the stress on the grid. The website has five statuses for the grid — green means everything is good, yellow is a request to reduce electric use, orange is a firmer request to reduce usage, red is “I really mean it — reduce your usage,” and black is “too late — we’re going to make you reduce your usage by instituting rolling blackouts.”

We went into the yellow both yesterday and today.

Why is this happening? Because Texas insists on having its own grid, so when our wind farms aren’t producing enough electricity, we, well, don’t have enough electricity to go around. We can’t borrow electricity from other states that have more.

They’re predicting more of the same on Saturday and Sunday.

Well, you know what I don’t need electricity for (at least in daytime — unless my power bank batteries are charged up and I can keep my phone charged through the blackout)? Reading! And for today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link, I should have the first (and maybe the only?) Rick Riordan book that I didn’t find to be a page-turner, The Mark of Athena. In The Mark of Athena, Percy’s group finally reaches Rome (and I love Rome!). I think the problem is that Riordan bit off too much here. After two books rotating among three characters, suddenly we have six characters’ points-of-view to balance. It’s still a great book, don’t get me wrong, and it’s kind of necessary to get to the next book in the series, but I think I’m going to post something else as my Gratuitous Amazon Link.

And that something will be The Sunset Route: Freight Trains, Forgiveness, and Freedom on the Rails in the American West, by Carrot Quinn. Quinn grew up in a difficult situation. Her mother was mentally ill and she was then adopted by her grandparents who were, by her account, not a whole lot better. After that, Quinn hit the road. One thing led to another, and she ended up as what used to be called a “hobo” — riding the rails illegally and taking odd jobs.

August 2023 Weather

Apparently my summer SAD is kicking my butt.

We got quite a bit of rain yesterday and then a bit more today, and the temperature is currently under 90° (32.2° Celsius). I don’t have a lot more energy, but I do have a bit more perspective.

It’s weird because I’ve been able to keep my summer SAD down to a minimum in past years by getting lots of outdoor time during the months leading up to the hottest part of the year. This year, however, with a houseful of dogs and everything that happened this spring. And this year, we didn’t really have a run up to the hot weather to help me acclimate. It seemed that we went from the high 80s to the low 100s without much time in between.

On the good side, though, we got quite a bit of rain yesterday. A bit of thunder, too. Usually when it rains at work, the parking lot will be dry by the time I leave. But yesterday there were still puddles out there. Puddles! Actual puddles!

I can’t get over it.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is The Son of Neptune, the second book in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series. Remember how Percy was missing in The Lost Hero? Well, we’ve found him. As the book opens, Percy, who has amnesia, is in Northern California making his way to a camp for the descendants of gods. Will he make it? Of course. Will he make new friends? Certainly. Will he make new enemies? Undoubtedly. Will there be a travelogue portion of the book? You betcha.

I love Rick Riordan’s books.