The Purple Cactus

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while now, but I kept forgetting. While browsing on Twitter last month, I spotted this incredible photo posted by an author I’ve followed for a while.

I love this thing so much.

Yes, my friends, that is a purple cactus. I love cacti and I love the color purple (though not as much as my friend Ruth!), so I am really thrilled by this plant. Some brief internet research reveals that it’s a purple pricklypear (Opuntia macrocentra, for the more botanically-minded out there), I think. Whatever it is, I think it’s great. I want one outside my house. Alas, I don’t live in the southwest, which is why I need to make a move to the southwest happen. Anyone want to hire a hardworking finance/accounting person out in Arizona? (Not even joking here, you guys! 🙂 The purple cactus is but one reason I need to move out west.)

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A Yellow Warbler

Today, as I sat at my table working, I noticed a flash of yellow in the tree outside my window. I thought it was my imagination—until I realized it was an adorable bird.

Do you see him in the top right?

Yes, my friends, a delightful little yellow warbler apparently stopped by on his way migrating north from South America. I was trying to discern if there was more than one outside. I never did see two at the same time, so as far as I know, there was just the one.

He later disappeared and I wish I’d been able to get a better photo, but I’m happy I saw him in the first place. I’ve never seen a yellow warbler before. The picture I took doesn’t do his color justice. The yellow is really, really bright!

My Trip to Tucson, Part 2

Yesterday, we left off when I, your intrepid correspondent, had finished dinner at the fabulous Italian restaurant and gone back to my hotel.

I arrived at the airport feeling a bit morose. I didn’t want to go home yet and I received a rejection for the job I’d just interviewed for the day before. (I did end up talking to the recruiter about it and we had a good conversation, so yay. But that didn’t happen until later in the week.)

I went through security and sat at my gate and looked out the window. There’s a Air Force base in Tucson and I saw military jets coming and going, so of course I took a picture.

I flew through Denver on the way to Tucson, but I was scheduled to fly through Dallas on the way back. As my flight time approached, tragedy struck!
Continue reading “My Trip to Tucson, Part 2”

My Trip to Tucson, Part 1

A while ago, I blogged about a trip I took to Tucson, Arizona, where I scooted around in a cute rental car and took pictures of cacti—in between interviewing for a job. A company generously flew me out there and I had a great time. Unfortunately, I didn’t get an offer…

…so I applied again and was again offered a trip out to Arizona. Of course, I took it. I wanted to interview because the job sounded great and I really, really like Arizona. So I went at the end of August 2017 and promised to blog about it, but then didn’t.

Well, here is that promised blog entry. There will be two blog entries, actually: one today and one tomorrow. It was that amazing of a trip. The only thing that would have made it better was having my mom out there with me. It was still a great trip, though, so here we go. This is what happened on Days 1 and 2, a lovely Sunday and Monday in August 2017.

I had to take two planes to get there, of course. There are barely any nonstop flights nowadays anyway, and I don’t live near a massive airport. Even one of the larger airports that’s somewhat near me, Atlanta, doesn’t have a whole lot of nonstop flights out to Arizona. They exist, but they’re expensive, and I don’t think the company would have wanted to pay that much when they could just stick me on a cheaper flight with connections.

So I flew United to Denver and hung out in the Denver airport for a while. Then, I boarded the plane to Tucson and made my first mistake: I’d asked for an aisle seat.

I usually sit aisle because window is hard to get out of and middle—well, the less said about middle seats, the better. When I booked the flight via the company’s concierge service (it sounds way fancier than it is, I promise), I’d requested aisle seats on both flights. That was a big mistake! Next time I fly to Arizona, I’m getting a window seat. The view from the window was gorgeous.

I got lucky because the lady next to me in the window seat let me lean over her a bit to see what was going on outside. That’s how I took this fantastic photo of some Arizona scenery about half an hour before we landed. It’s one of my favorite photos that I’ve ever taken.


Continue reading “My Trip to Tucson, Part 1”

Even More Rain

This weekend, the weather has been keeping with the theme of rain, rain, and more rain. It started raining this afternoon and is supposed to rain all night long. At least tomorrow will be sunny.

Meanwhile, enjoy this picture I took on Friday night (I am happy to say it did not rain on Friday). I’m pretty sure that bright object above the tree in the center is Venus. It was so bright that even my phone camera was able to pick it up.

I hope that’s Venus.

I don’t actually know much about astronomy, though, so for all I know, that isn’t Venus. It still was fun to see, though. I’m going to go work on some writing for the rest of this evening as the rain continues. Stay dry, everyone!

The 1918 Flu Pandemic In Russia

I’m a historian by training and even if I’m not officially using my degree (I mean, aside from the writing skills, research skills, and presentation skills I learned while completing my degree—I say this to emphasize that humanities degrees do help you in the workplace, everyone!), I love encountering random historical things. I mean, there’s a reason this blog is called Fluent Historian. I wouldn’t have called it that and kept that name if I weren’t a huge history buff.

Anyway, one of my recent discoveries is a fascinating photo essay on The Atlantic called The 1918 Flu Pandemic: Photos From a Century Ago. It contains thirty black-and-white photos from 1918 and 1919, when the so-called Spanish Flu swept across the world and killed 20 to 40 million people. That’s more than the casualties of World War I (15 million). That could be more than World War II (66 million) as well (it’s hard to tell since casualty figures for World War II vary, as do the figures for World War I)*. Nevertheless, it’s a ton of people.

The photo that caught my attention is the second one. Here’s a direct link to it. And here it is, below.

Courtesy of the National Archives

According to the article, the caption from the National Archives reads: “February, 1919. U.S. Army at Archangel Front, Russia. Funeral of member of crew of U.S.S. Ascutney. Three members died in Archangel and many were sick with influenza.”

As morbid as this sounds, I find that to be so fascinating. For those of you who aren’t as obsessed with the Russian Civil War as I am (and that’s probably most of you, because my obsession knows no bounds! 😉 ), that picture is from the doomed Allied intervention in Russia following the Bolshevik Revolution. After Lenin and his nasty band of followers seized power in 1917, the Russian Civil War broke out. You see, a large amount of people realized the Bolsheviks and their leadership, especially Lenin, were a bunch of nasty pieces of work and didn’t want to be ruled by such people. During the war, the (largely) pro-monarchist Whites fought the Reds (Bolsheviks). There were also the anarchist Greens, the anarchist Blacks of Ukraine, and even a group called the Blues. As you can see, identifying yourself by a color was all the rage.

Anyway, Allied forces also intervened in the war, though I would argue their involvement was too little, too late. The flu pandemic was sweeping the world during this time—even though I know about both the Spanish flu and the Russian Civil War, I hadn’t specifically thought of them as occurring at the same time, even though they obviously did. And as we can see from the photo above, American soldiers were sent to fight in Russia, with some dying and being buried there. Just a fascinating bit of history for you this week.

*Note: Casualty figures for the flu come from this Stanford site. The ones for World War I and World War II come from Matthew White’s excellent book Atrocities.

Rain, Rain, and More Rain

We get a ton of rain where I live, but this winter and spring has been a tad ridiculous. It rains multiple times a week. In some places, the ground seems to have become perpetually muddy. As I type this late on a Friday night (I just finished working on some fiction writing), it is pouring outside.

A typical cloudy day back in March.

I guess the good thing about rain is it sounds peaceful at night. And it makes for good reading and writing weather. That’s what I’m going to go do right now: read.

Happy Friday, everyone!

The Great Digital Photos Organization Project

I wrote a lot early last week, then paused in my writing (yet again). This time, though, I wasn’t reading or feeling sad and unable to write. I was doing something else: I decided to embark on a project to organize my digital photos once and for all.

I have a lot of pictures. A lot. My mom bought me a digital camera in 2006 and I used it for years. (I still have it, actually.) Then, the iPhone came out and I took pictures with my phone, too.

All this to say that I’ve accumulated a rather large photo collection over the years. I used to do a good job of going through and deleting bad pictures and renaming the ones I kept so that I could actually find what I’d taken pictures of. (It’s pretty hard to tell which pictures are of your family and friends and which are of your cat when they’re all named “IMG_1001” and such.)

Somewhere along the line, I’d sort of given up organizing my photos. I kept taking pictures, though, and my collection ballooned. One reason why I don’t post a ton of pictures, either on this blog or on my social media, is I can never find anything I want! Sometimes I’ll know I have a good picture of a flower that I’d like to use, but good luck finding it. I have almost ten years’ (!) worth of photos on my computer. I haven’t checked to see how many photos in total I have, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s ten thousand, minimum.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to organize this mass of digital imagery once and for all. After much thought and research, I’ve decided to use the Mac Photos application with a referenced library. (A managed library is the default.) That way, I can preserve my file structure, but will still be able to browse my photos in chronological order. Best of all, the Photo application will scan my photos for faces (it found my cat’s face in addition to human faces!) and will index everything so I can search for a topic (like “cactus” or “snow”).

I made a lot of progress on my photo organization project last week. It’s going to take a while to go through and delete what I don’t want and move everything I do want to keep into the right place. But I’m hoping to have a completely organized catalog of photos by early next year, which will be amazing.

Yarn Bomb!

This weekend, I decided to organize my yarn collection, once and for all. I don’t have a ton of yarn… but I don’t exactly have a paltry amount, either.

This was the result when I had all of my yarn out in my living room.

Click to see larger.

Now, I know this isn’t a yarn bomb per se, but it does look like part of a yarn shop exploded there.

So yes, I did organize my yarn. I allocated some of it to patterns I want to make. (I have a bad habit of buying random yarn I like without a specific pattern in mind, which leads to the yarn just sitting around and accumulating without being made into something.)

I also made something last night. Yes, this cowl can be made in an entire evening, it goes so quickly. It’s crocheted, which helps. I crochet a lot faster than I knit!

It reminds me of the desert!

We had off from work on Friday due to snow. The snow was so beautiful that I went outside to admire it. We had a good 3-4 inches, from what I’ve heard. Of course, it’s almost all melted now, but it was gorgeous on Friday.

A Cute Bird

One of the local library branches near where I live has parakeets. Yes, you read that right. There are actual parakeets at this library and they are adorable. They live in a cage in the children’s section and surprisingly enough, the kids seem to behave around them. The librarians help keep an eye on them, from what I’ve seen.

One of the birds is so adorable that I had to take a few pictures of him. He chirped the entire time.

Isn't he cute?
Isn’t he cute?

One of the many reasons why I always go to this branch is so I can see this little guy. Seriously, if the librarians didn’t keep such a close watch on him, I’d be tempted to slip him into my pocket and take him home with me! Too bad I need to get some writing done today—otherwise I’d go visit him later!