Category Archives: Incidentals

Meet Digit

Meet Digit

Digit is a humanoid-ish robot designed by Oregon’s Agility Robotics. You might recall seeing it in a video from Ford a few weeks ago where they introduced their plan to disrupt home deliveries. In the video below, you can see the little fella doing no disrupting of anything at all, in fact, it’s just taking a stroll in its hometown. Not creepy at all. No.

(If you’re actually creeped out, fret not. We’re still a ways away from Digit coming to visit you under its own volition. You can see the guy controlling it in the video—he’s the fella in gray.)

As impressive as this technology is, I cannot help but wonder what people will do to a lone Digit in the wild, especially here in the good ol’ United States. We don’t have a particularly good track record when it comes to treating friendly robotos with respect.

⚡️🤖⚡️

Raunch Reviews: Farscape

Raunch Review: Farscape

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


Raunch Reviews: Farscape
Raunch Reviews: Farscape
The Author: Rockne S. O’Bannon
Work in Question: Farscape
The Profanity: “Dren”

If there is one series that gets requested for Raunch Reviews all the time, it’s Farscape. For the uninitiated, it’s a cult Australian-American sci-fi show filled with great story, fully realized characters, incredible muppets, and not-so-incredible faux profanities. Which leads us to today’s word of choice: “dren.”

Ha! I bet you thought I was going to focus on “frell!” But no! I pulled a fast one on you and switched it up. Why? Well, because “frell” is bad—it’s used in confusing ways and is born from the same onus as “frak” nothing more than a slip around censors. Those don’t rank highly on Raunch Reviews. In comparison, the word “dren” is much more elegant, if not stinkier.

First, its use is not original (we have to be honest it’s another censor-slip/replacer-word), and, similar to its real-world comparisons, it’s idiomatic. “Dren” is used as a vulgarity, meaning essentially an “unwanted substance or act.” It’s easy to pick up on its English counterpart when it’s used in phrases like “piece of dren.” But, unlike “frak” and “frell” it doesn’t follow similar patterns in pronunciation and it spelled nothing like its real-world counterpart. I think that’s important. For these sorts of faux-vulgarities, you want them to be punchy—longer words drift and shrink, becoming manageable enough to work as modifiers. “Dren” does that—and it does it pretty well.

If you’re going to make poop jokes, at least get creative with it and the writers of Farscape did exactly that in this case. Creativity goes a long way and while this is still a censor-slip, it’s a more creative censor-slip. The uniqueness and originality set it apart from others, so “dren” gains some points for that.

Score: Half Swear (3.0)

Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


Octavia Butler

Forget Talent

“Forget talent. If you have it, fine. Use it. If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent.”

Octavia E. Butler


Back around the beginning of the year, I shared a quote from Butler that’s quite similar to this one, but instead of talent, that previous quote focused on inspiration. The reason they sound so similar is that they’re both are taken from the same essay on writing advice: Furor Scribendi.

The essay was initially published in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume IX but luckily you can find a reprinting of in her collection Bloodchild: And Other Stories which I’d recommend for the titular story alone.

The Vision of Graces - A three-person show at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle Washington, opening June 13th, 2019

The Visions of Graces

If you’re in Seattle next week, and you’re looking for something to do, might I suggest swinging by Roq La Rue Gallery on Thursday, June 13th from 6:00–9:00 PM for the opening of The Visions of Graces, a three-person show featuring my brilliant partner, Kari-Lise Alexander, the always incredible Laurie Lee Brom, and the inimitable Syd Bee. (Be sure to check out Syd’s show from April, Dear Illusions, as well—it’s a stunner.)

Each artist is bringing three to four pieces, and I’m excited to see them up on the walls. I’ve gotten a few glimpses at what’s to come, and I cannot wait for everyone to see the work these talented women have been creating. It’s going to be great. I’ve included a few small previews of what’s to come below, but you’ll soon be able to see more.


Kari-Lise Alexander


Laurie Lee Brom


Syd Bee


A Vision of Graces opens Thursday, June 13th and will run for a month. Both Kari-Lise and I will be at the opening, so if you drop by, be sure to say hello. You can contact the gallery with inquiries about any particular piece. I highly recommend signing up for the Roq La Rue newsletter as soon as possible so you can receive the show preview. You can sign up by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.

Hopefully, I’ll see you there!

✨🎨✨

Graphing the distribution of English letters towards the beginning, middle or end of words

Graphing the Distribution of English Letters

I came across this old post on prooffreader.com from 2014 from data scientist and developer David Taylor and found it fascinating. I figured my readers would as well.

Below you’ll see a graphic visualization on the distribution of English letters towards the beginning, middle, or end of words. The data set comes from the Brown Corpus in the Natural Language Toolkit instead of a dictionary, this great because the results are weighted for usage based on the frequency of use.


Graphing the distribution of English letters towards the beginning, middle or end of words


If you’re a data nerd like me, there are a lot more details in the original post that explain these findings. If you want to learn more about the methodology, then be sure to check out the extended version of the post on prooffreaderplus. I appreciated Taylors final thought:

The most common word in the English language is “the”, which makes up about 6% of most corpuses (sorry, corpora). But according to these graphs, the most representative word is “toe”.

I’m glad the word that ended up representing English the most is somehow “toe”—for whatever reason I find it oddly fitting for our mongrel language.

A Weekend of Smoke

A Weekend of Smoke

This past long weekend, I took a day off from edits and spent a pleasant day reading and hanging out by my grill and smoking a variety of foods. While I enjoy posting about my fiction, writing, fictional swearing, inspirational quotes, weird plants, mapping projects, or my historical research, sometimes it’s nice to take a break and share just random happenings—occasional incidentals. This Smoke Report™ is one of those random happenings.

My cheap but effective offset smoker—they’re not the easiest to learn on, but they’re fun.

In total, I cooked for about six hours, keeping the temp around 225º for the duration of the smoke—I was delighted with the results. I’m getting pretty good at maintaining a constant temperature with chips and chunks and only experienced a few flareups which I was able to quickly control. Preparation is key to doing this right. I like to soak most of my wood overnight (I used mesquite for this go-around), but I like to have some dry wood handy as well. I find that being able to quickly shift a fire’s momentum is important in maintaining a constant temperature.

Smoked wings
My smoked wings were rubbed in the Sweet Sizzle rub from For the Love of Spice which added a nice base flavor.

Chicken wings were the first thing off the grill. These were namely a snack/lunch break while we waited for the main course—a three-pound pork butt—to finish. I think they turned out really good. I brined them for an hour before smoking, and I’m glad I did, it kept the meat juicy while the outside crisped up nicely. Afterward, I ended up turning the remains into a bone-broth, It’ll probably end up in a risotto.

Smoked onions, garlic, and corn—be sure to soak vegetables in water for at least an hour before smoking
Smoked onions, garlic, and corn—be sure to soak vegetables in water for at least an hour before smoking.

Along with the meat, I smoked garlic (fresh from our garden), onions (also fresh from our garden), eggs (not pictured), and corn (from the grocer.) The garlic was terrific and became soft and spreadable like roasted garlic but with an added kick of smoke. The onions were much sweeter and less smokey than I expected but an excellent little addition to the feast. The corn on the cob turned out well although it’s still early in the season for corn and the ears weren’t the high-quality corn we’ll find later this summer.

I’m not sure if I’d smoke eggs again—they get an interesting texture and color. The outside turns a golden yellow-brown, but they really don’t carry a lot of extra smoke flavor. Outside of looking unique, I don’t think smoking eggs adds all that much.

My excellent pork butt sitting atop a Ruby Pear Woodworks cutting board.
My excellent pork butt sitting atop a Ruby Pear Woodworks cutting board.
The pork butt sliced up and ready to eat.
The pork butt sliced up and ready to eat.

As far as the main course went, this was easily the best pork butt I have ever smoked. I dry rub all my smoked meats—I tend to prefer it over sticky/saucy barbeque.  It finished about an hour earlier than I expected so I wrapped it for an hour while I finished everything else. This only helped tenderize it further. The final result was incredibly tender with a fantastic flavor thanks to a solid smoke ring.

Grilled flatbread with olive oil, rosemary (from our garden) and salt
Grilled flatbread with olive oil, rosemary (from our garden) and—of course—salt.

At the very end, I grilled homemade flatbread and some beautiful turnips (sadly not pictured) which were also great. It was a delightful little feast all in all and a relaxing day. It’s fun to take days like this to test recipes of perfect techniques. I learned a bunch, and I am quite happy with my results.

Below, I’ve shared my dry rub recipe—it’s great for pork, but it’s a solid all-around rub that works across a variety of food from vegetables like cauliflower steaks or a protein like chicken. It’s also easy to manipulate so throwing in your favorite spice can add a unique and personal spin. Enjoy!


My Dry Rub

  • 4 tsp Seasoned Salt
  • 2 tsp Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Dry Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
  • Pinch of Ground Ginger

Can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month.


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