Friday Links (Gunning for Vacation, Edition)

“After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.”
― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

September has been one of the toughest months of my life and I am powering through it for the simple reason that I have my first vacation in over a year coming up next week. I have been working almost daily for over a year now, including weekends and holidays. Occasionally I’ve been able to get a weekend away from my laptop or day off, but they have been rare. And kittens, I’m tired.

I’m also proud. I’ve gone from less than $100 a month to what WOULD be almost a living wage (if, you know, debt weren’t a thing and I didn’t live in one of the most expensive cities on earth) in less than two years. Not all freelancers can do that. But it’s absolutely taken a toll–on my health, my relationships, and my self-care. A lot of working for yourself is finding and keeping a healthy balance and it’s a constant learning curve for me. Long story, short? I’m really excited for my time off.

My in-laws are coming to visit and after a few days in London we are taking the party to the road touring the southwest of England. Updates forthcoming but for the next couple of weeks I’ve been saving up past adventures to keep you entertained. Here are you links and let me know what you’re up to this weekend!

Online friend and really incredible designer Bethany Grow has launched her blogizine, The Collaboreat! As the name suggests, it’s a collaborative travel and food site and it’s already lengthening my list of places to visit and nosh within.

Cambridge updates ahead in particular!

Cambridge updates ahead in particular!

Scotland will not leave the U.K.

New life goal: attend these.

Excellent Youtube video from The Brain Scoop on the history of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. I’ve been pondering on proactive vs. reactive conservation efforts ever since my trip to an urban beekeeping facility in London and learning more about the rapid decline of insect populations in Britain. We humans are responsible for the greatest mass extinction since the last Ice Age. Though a lot of that is fairly recent and related to our quests for more energy and raw materials, the truth is we’ve been negatively affecting other species populations for about 10,000 year total, which is sobering.

Ah, the great expat egg debate. Walk with me, kittens, and learn.

Holy hell. I believe in counseling. THIS is NOT counseling. (Side note, there is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful to have been born when and where I was. I recognize exactly how lucky I am. In another century I’d have been burnt at the stake.)

Writing is good for you!

The call for 10 books that changed your life that went around Facebook recently (and that I responded to) was pretty popular and the data miners who work there collated the most popular results. I haven’t read five on this list but need to!

Tumblr find of the week.

I am not well versed in American literature. Past the point of shame and well into the area of laughable. This new list might help.


The 18th century might have been wacky, but I’ve always secretly been in awe of early 19th century headgear, of the Wives and Daughters variety. I would definitely have been burnt at the stake, both for refusing to sport those styles and for shredding my corsets in public.

A nice little update to the old riddle. The fifth graders, they get it!

House Guards and Horses

“It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.”
― Adlai E. Stevenson II

Meandering past Horse Guards Parade in Westminster a couple of weeks ago, we got the unexpected pleasure of seeing the riders and horses put through their paces. The Household Cavalry are made of of some of the most prestigious regiments of the British Army due to the fact that they are members of the Queen’s personal guard. Their history goes back to the 17th century and their museum (housed in the Horse Guards building), which forms the traditional entrance to St. James’s Palace, is well worth seeing if you’re interested in British military history.

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The first hint that something was going on was the sound of hooves on stone.

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The other half of the guards regiment (the Life Guards are in Red, the Royal House Guards and and 1st Dragoon, also called the Blues and Royals, are in the blue. For obvious reasons).

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Of course, the men are only half of the stars of the show.

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I was really impressed to see the riders actually on guard while on horseback. Specifically that the horses were tolerating the hordes of tourists butting up against them to try and get pictures without kicking them straight in the head. I was waiting for some kind of equine disaster, but the training the horses get is impeccable.

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Feminism and Facebook Facepalms

“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: “It’s a girl.”
― Shirley Chisholm

Facebook, your standards on acceptable depictions of the female body (as discovered when researching image regulations for a client’s social media posts) trouble me. I think we can all agree that bathroom selfies need to go, but out of the three (of four total) images depicting women, the bottom left image is the one showing the most inappropriate amounts of skin? Really?


Friday Links

Better days are coming. They are called Saturday and Sunday.
~Author Unknown

Another grim week for news. The ranks of ISIS are growing and the NFL’s pathetic standards for behavioral expectations of their players were exposed. Scotland’s voting on independence next week leading to fears of longterm effects for Britain and the EU, people are speculating that Romney will run again (please benevolent universal forces, no!), and Pistorius has been found guilty of culpable homicide.

On the home front, things are better this week. I’m working towards a much needed break here in a couple of weeks, though unfortunately I won’t be able to make it to the States for the funeral. It’s been a largely rewarding but financially frustrating year in a lot of ways. I may have to write a post or two about it. In the meantime, here are your links, kittens, and thanks so much for the lovely comments and emails last week. I really appreciated them.

A London literary map. I need this.

Found the best Twitter feed.

Powerful images of Apartheid South Africa.

Kurdish female fighters standing up to ISIS.

Interesting piece about the rise and decline of the iPod and what role it played in much of our current technical realities. I remember getting an iPod for Christmas one year, it was my big request and I got good use out of it. But I had never really considered its long term impact before this. I still use my iPod, but instead of music it’s mostly stocked with podcasts these days. How about yours?

Kill it with fire!!!

This prank is amazing, and you just know this dog is baffled as to why people are running screeching.

The great mystery solved? Fun fact, I actually live shockingly close to Whitechapel, land of Ripper-hysteria and now Ripper-tourism.

Unexpected photos of Really Big Deal events. And some silly ones. The London Underground shot is equally amazing and scary, not sure I would have trusted the early models (the present day ones can be dubious enough!).

To Arms!

“The age of chivalry is past. Bores have succeeded to dragons.”
― Charles Dickens

Specifically, the College of Arms. I found its location entirely by accident on a long wander one afternoon and spent the rest of the walk schooling Jeff on various assorted history. He was attentive but admittedly uninterested, so you minions get the lesson instead. Which you will appreciate, yes?

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The College is one of the few remaining authoritative heraldic organizations left in Europe. It’s been in operation since Richard III and is charged with the keeping of records related to pedigree and usage of coats of arms. If you are granted a coat of arms yourself, this is the institution that would develop it and store the history of the family. Historically one of the most important tasks of the College was to mediate the legal battles of who got to claim and wear which coats of arms and symbols.

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This is done in the fantastically named Court of Chivalry. But don’t get too excited, there’s precious little jousting. Like I said, the battles were mostly legal to resolve disputes about heredity. And if you know your British history, heredity can be ridiculously complex for something that held the entire system together.

For example, the head of the operation is the Earl Marshal, a hereditary office held by the Dukes of Norfolk. Though every single Duke has descended in some way or another from Edward I, there have actually been multiple creations of the title. The family that’s held the title since the 15th century are the Howards, who are the second most historically powerful and ranked clan of British peerage after the Royal Family. The family is also the most historically prominent Catholic family in Britain, no mean feat after the various Reformations, Counter Reformations, Civil Wars, and various Acts of Parliaments to limit Catholic rights. By an Act, no Catholic can become monarch, which is why we got the German Hanover family and all their various Georges in the 18th century. The government had to bypass 50 people with a better blood claim to the throne in order to find a suitable Protestant in George I who could not speak a word of English at the time.

Something that I found fascinating in learning more about the College (why, what do YOU do on the weekends?) was that contrary to almost universal popular belief, coats of arms are not technically held by a family. They are held by an individual or a corporate body like a guild. So if you think there’s a coat of arms associated with your family, bad news. You’re probably one of the many twigs on the family tree who isn’t entitled to claim it.

See? Interesting!

Friday Links (Hard Times Edition)

“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.”
― Audrey Hepburn

It’s been a bad week. Work was tricky, some private concerns caused stress, and my grandfather passed on Wednesday. You’ll understand if I’m not around for a bit? Here are you links, have a good weekend and try and put something positive into the universe.

These beasts get it. (Obligatory Buzzfeed language warning.)

We, in fact, do have the technology!

An old, old post but one I was just alerted to by the hilarious Kerry over at PT&P. The problem with algorithms (her own post on how it affects writing and content creation is worth a look in too, I think!)

History humor, the captioned adventures of George Washington.

Makeup made into art.

Fascinating story on what people actually see after their blindness has been cured or corrected. Sight is a skill and requires a degree of neurological experience for the brain to learn to process the incoming information.

Gorgeous photography.

Britain’s Crown Jewels live a mere 30-minute or so walk from me and they are pretty impressive. But I don’t think anything beats the famous troves of imperialist Russia, most of which were confiscated by revolutionaries and have been lost to time. But this post over at the Court Jeweler, a reprint of a 1920s article on the gems, is a lot of fun, shows what the imperial jewels would have looked like, and the links are jaw-dropping. Frankly I feel the same way about the spread of egg sized rubies as I do about Versailles: looking at both you think, “Yeah, I’d absolutely have revolted too.”

Sad but interesting read on how superstition causes human beings to deal with otherness.

Margret Atwood’s rules for writing.

Uh, yes please.

Thank you, internet.

Obligatory women in religion news update, this story on the decline of nuns was fascinating and significant to me. When the religious contributions and work of women is separate, largely without fanfare or recognition, and devoid of a lot of autonomy and authority…women opt out. They take their time, talents, and even faith elsewhere.

Science is splendid.

Truly splendid.

Friday Links

“Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion.”
― Leigh Hunt

Another week, another Friday! There are a lot of great updates from various Friends of the Blog, Caitlin Kelly started teaching at the Pratt Institute, Katarina picked up a book agent (!!!) for her first novel, and a respected acquaintance found housing in Kenya where she just moved.

However, there’s some bad news from me. My grandfather’s health has taken a very bad turn with an infection that went to his heart. The family is taking the situation one step at a time, and my father and his sisters are with my grandparents, but any positive vibes, prayers, or supportive thoughts  you could send their way would be very appreciated. Thank you, kittens.

Here are your links, just a few for your Friday, and tell me what you’re getting up to this weekend in the comments!

I had to chortle because Jeff definitely owns this shirt. And I may or may not have the lady version…

This headline alone should make you want to view the gallery.

Romantic friendships, an interesting subject for those interested in gender dynamics and history. As I happen to be. The notion that they grew most during a time when men and women’s spheres were so cut off from one another is something I hadn’t properly considered before, but that makes a lot of sense. Obligatory pearl-clutchers warning, queer relationships are discussed and some sexuality.

Trying not to break into song

Disease has always been the soldier’s stereotypical companion, but the Paris Review has put together a piece and gallery on the anti-VD campaigns of WWII.

The Spanish royal family has had a rough time of it, but this article in the Daily Beast is positively dripping with scandal.

I’m a big fan of Pop Culture Happy Hour on NPR, and Linda Holmes (editor of the Monkey See blog and panelist) compiled a pinterest board of every “What’s Making Us Happy This Week” ever mentioned on the show. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Have a listen and then browse, ducklings!

What a clever thing!

So, that Star Trek future is postponed, right?