The silk in Silk Road.

unspooling the cocoons

Those are silk cocoons, spun by silk worms who have fed long and well on mulberry leaves. There is a fire beneath the caldron, and this lady is boiling them in water to make the very end of the strands loosen, all the while stirring the water so that the strand ends will adhere to the stirring stick. The ends are attached to a spindle and wound, and voila, ready to dye and weave.

Now they have gigantic automated factories to do this work, of course, but this is the way they would have done it back in Johanna’s day.

HoZ Silk and Song final.jpg

Which I will be signing at 2pm on December 2nd

at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Click here to pre-order.

Once you get in, you’ll never get out.

Teklamakan 1

The Taklamakan Desert.

Some sources claim it means “Place of No Return”, more commonly interpreted as “once you get in, you’ll never get out.”

Teklamakan 2

And you can see why.

Teklamakan 3

 

HoZ Silk and Song final

Which I will be signing at 2pm on December 2nd

at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Click here to pre-order.

Enjoyable, informative, and maybe even a little hopeful. Maybe.

index.jpg

This is a good book. I thought it was going to be either a polemical diatribe or a “Aren’t I wonderful, aren’t I great!” self-promotion like so many political autobiographies, but this one is by turns humble, informative and, of course, funny. Franken has a real appreciation for the challenges inherent in the job of being a US Senator from Minnesota, as well as its occasional absurdities, and he has a talent for encapsulating serious policy into digestible bites of clear prose. Why, he could teach civics in high school. If we still taught civics in high school.

If you were expecting a beat-down on the Republican Party, yeah, there’s some of that, but he reserves his big guns for Ted Cruz (nobody likes that guy, including Republicans).

…the problem with Ted–and the reason so many senators have a problem with Ted–is simply that he is an absolutely toxic coworker…Real senatoring requires that you build productive relationships with your colleagues. And Ted just isn’t that kind of guy.

(I’m going to use ‘senatoring’ someday in a book myself. With attribution, of course.) Franken, on the other hand, has managed to make friends even with Mitch McConnell.

“Mitch,” I said, “I have to say, I really like your speeches better that aren’t in the service of evil.”

Mitch favored me with his best Grinch smile. Then he said, “I like the evil ones better.”

Also Franken has a gift for footnoting (just go with it), as in

Until 1964, Dad had been a liberal Republican.*

*Those used to exist.

Enjoyable, informative, and maybe even a little hopeful. Maybe. Recommended.


More of my Goodreads reviews here.

All we need is an arrow with a caption: You are here. #persepective

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 7.33.51 PM

From the Washington Post:

That little white ball on the right? That’s Earth.
Astronomer Carolyn Porco, the leader of the Cassini imaging team who conceived of the July 2013 photo shoot. She and her colleagues organized a campaign to smile into the void at 21:27 Coordinated Universal Time (accounting, of course, for light’s 15-minute dash from Earth to Saturn. It would be only the third time that Earth had been photographed from such a distance, after an earlier Cassini image and the Voyager portrait. It also marked the first time that Earth inhabitants knew they were being photographed from the outer solar system, beyond the asteroid belt.
(NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/AP)

More photos here.

It’s all about product placement on the Silk Road.

Coal and stovepipes copy

Coal and stovepipes in the Kuche market. Hey, buy one, gotta buy the other.

HoZ Silk and Song final

Which I will be signing at 2pm on December 2nd

at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Click here to pre-order.

Naginata.

That would be this

shown here with samurai for scale, whose weapon it was

A naginata could be over twelve feet in length, butt to blade tip. Other than the obvious uses — stabbing, slicing, hooking, clubbing, kneecapping charging horses, disemboweling and/or beheading their riders — the naginata user’s advantage was by how far it extended the user’s reach over an opponent armed with a sword. The naginata was also the only weapon women were allowed to use in medieval Japan. Read more here.

The naginata is the weapon of choice for Silk and Song’s samurai, Gokudo. His quick hand on the, er, shaft may have in part led to his banishment from Chipangu, and to his intersection with my plot.

HoZ Silk and Song final.jpg

Which I will be signing at 2pm on December 2nd

at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Click here to pre-order.