Do You Microwave your Butternut Squash?

Certain foods look intimidating in the store, and I find butternut squash to be in that category. It just doesn’t look like food. And it is rather large. The size calls to mind a caution from the great catoonist Kliban who said “Never eat anything bigger than your head”

But there could be relief at hand! Now I understand that I just didn’t know how to reduce this huge orblike thing to delightful little cubes. Just microwave it.

Do you do that?



Staying Cool During the Middle Ages

We tend not to think of the middle ages as a particularly “cool” or “hip” period in history. The renaissance gets much better press. And yet, the middle ages were not as bad as all that.

I find one thing especially intriguing .The institutions of church and state had not yet gained the strength that would enable dominance. And so, these times were actually more free than one might think. You might think of the middle ages as a great period of non-conformity. Of eccentricities. I find that to be rather attractive. Though, yes, the period did have its rough edges as well.

Bratislava for Beginners

When I heard the news that our regional conference would be held in Bratislava, I had my doubts about the place. Bratislava? What happens there? Of course, it is very close to Vienna. That was a plus. But I did not expect much from Bratislava itself.

BTW, you can travel from Vienna to Bratislava by boat down the Danube, which I am told is rather pleasant. I went by train got into an argument with a colleague, and entered the city in a grumpy mood.

Things changed rather quickly. I discovered that Bratislava is a charming city, Attending a party in a house that had a spectacular view over the river from an insane elevation didn’t hurt. But the city itself is lovely, as smaller and older cities tend to be. The next morning looking out a cafe window I was sad to have to leave. And now, I want to go back to check out its street art.

Street Art in Bratislava

Gibson: Too Brilliant to Ignore!

William Gibson published his first novel, Neuromancer back in 1984.


It was about a computer hacker who sneaks into a space station to hep a computer turn into a god. A computer hacker? Remember, this was written back in the 1980’s. Gibson was — and remains — a rather far sighted sci-fi voice.

Ned Beauman writes about Gibson for the Guardian

… it was just too brilliant to ignore. Neuromancer originated a subgenre of science fiction called cyberpunk, which later withered away, redundant, because cyberpunk had become the condition of the real world. Gibson could therefore be credited with anticipating the information age, with the result that for the last 30 years he has regularly been pressed into service as a prophet.

Gibson has by now written 11 noels and the latest is “The Peripheral”.

a sort of transtemporal Skype running on a mysterious Chinese server …  entangle(s) two eras in(to) a single story.

The Peripheral is not an optimistic novel in the traditional sense. It presents a very nasty future. And yet — as with all Gibson works, the humans in the story remain capable of better things.

I may have to get into this story over Christmas. Errr … and what authors are you into these days?