Got some beads out of it, anyway. *sigh* They are very pretty, very cheap, shiny gimcrack beads.
Mother-in-law has huge blood clot in leg, and they are gonna keep her in the hospital for a wee bit till they have the blood-thinning med dose set up right. We are pondering figuring out how to loan her an Apple Watch to see if she'd use it to Stand Up More, because lack of moving legs is Not Good.
I also ....blanking... blanking...blanking... Ugh, brain. Anyway, spouse was being taxi for his mom a lot, including in the ER while they got the ultrasound done (they did not get it done after waiting HOURS, like till 10pm, last night, 'cause the Venous Ultrasound person'd gone home), and getting her checked in.
Then spouse and kid went for dinner, and I did trash night all alone -- including having to deal with the trash bags being in the garage. Our kitchen floor is higher up than our garage floor, for Reasons. Geologic ones, even. So we have stairs in the garage up to a little landing, and then a door into the house. The bottom of the stairs is currently blocked by the metal scaffolding that our contractor guy is using to get at the ceiling. I have discovered -- after Flicker-cat made a break for the garage FOR GODS KNOW WHAT REASON last night, and had to be lured out from under things -- that I can (as I suspected (yes, there are too many dashes and parens in this; sue me)) put one foot over the stair railing, slide that foot under the stair railing so there's enough Stair there to support me, and swing my other foot over.
So I tossed the trash bags over the railing, basically, followed them over, and bagged the trash. Left it in the garage near the door, went back over the railing, through the house, out the front door, to the car. Backed it up, opened the door, loaded the trash into the back, closed garage door, drove the 300 foot driveway IN THE DARK (I am not hauling the trash out by hand; are you kidding me??), with headlights of course (I specify the darkness because NOT HAULING IT BY HAND IN THE DARK FOR 300 FEET!), unloaded, came back, parked out of way of spouse's car, and went back in the front door.
Most of the accomplishment is the railing, but the context around my railing escapades is important.
...did I mention getting to bed at 5 in the morning again? *sigh*
Oh, hey, I wonder if this looks like crap or not in reality. -_-
I will end with some wise words from Reverend Mord: The universe is not uncaring. It cares about very strange things sometimes, but the great powers within it care even for the creatures as tiny as you and I.
( INwatch+Bookwatch )
( Dragons under fold )
The voices were spectacular and the cast convincing in their roles. The music was soaring, more like a choral piece with the lead voices floating on top than a traditional opera.
Because it took place along a catwalk the length of the hall, the audience had to walk up and down to actually see what was going on. At the same time, the chorus was wandering around the wandering audience, so we were actually IN the music. The production was fascinating, But I would pay to hear the music in in concert format. Elizabeth Cree will have a lot to live up to!
O17 Fest Wake World Opera Philadelphia
Inspiration is not a requirement to write. I tell myself this isn't the first lull I've hit with writing - and it will not be the last. It's nice to have the lull emanating from a place of calm. I also feel just the slightest of guilt, as if I am ignoring something. Hard to know if you're "taking a break" or "procrastinating."
I know eventually something will break and I'll be back to the keyboard with typing possessed. I'm not so far out of the woods as to think it will be smooth sailing forever. Not only is that not my luck (there's no "tragedy limit" for me and my life), but that's life in general. At least for me. In this quiet time, I'm settling to accept that.
There's been quite a bit of thought around that idea lately. That for whatever reason - karma, fate, the cold, cold hand of an uncaring Universe - my life will be a battle. Where most people have years and years of calm broken by events of crisis, mine is the absolute opposite. My calm waters are the punctuating events, not the rule that leads from year to year.
But in these glass seas, I can come to appreciate that. It's not so easy to be grateful when the ground cracks beneath you and sends you scrambling for an overhanging rock to keep you from plunging into the earth, but here, now, I can be grateful.
Maybe accepting my life as it has been (and for how it will be) is grace.
I can't bring myself to believe that there is some being out there that guides my hand and heart through the hard times. I can't bring myself to believe that I, as I was born and as I live, am deserving of some kind of divine benevolence. But I can take these quiet moments and reflect on my life, the things that brought me here and the things that propel me further.
I can take these quiet moments and think of things I might be able to believe.
I can take these moments of quiet and comb through the answers that I asked all of you to give me about ritual, about belief, and find ways to bring it back to grace. To an acceptance - a true acceptance, one not borne out of exhaustion - and continue to learn to love the Teressa that comes out of the other side of that acceptance.
This last year has been so hard. Hard in ways that I've never struggled with before. I do not believe there is some cosmic prize at the end of this finish line. I do not get the girl, I do not win the lottery, I do not get a Happily-Ever-After. Maybe no one does.
But I do get to learn just a little more about myself.
A great deal of what I've discovered over the last year has not been pretty. A huge chunk of what's been revealed about me has, in fact, been horrifying and shameful. But I am beginning to realize that there is no such thing as having too detailed a map about your inner self - craggy cliffs and raging torrents included. I know myself, in sickness and health, in ways that I never have before.
To learn those things as positives, as things to learn from...if I have any definition of "grace" that I can believe in, that is it.
This is very long and detailed, so I’m going to try to put in a cut tag.
All right, I can't get that to work, not if it was ever so. I'm sorry.
On Tuesday Raphael and I went to Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. The forecast was for a sunny, almost windless day with a high of 87. The air quality was moderate. I complained about this the day before and Raphael asked if I'd prefer not to go. But Sherburne is actually a good place to go on a less than perfect day, because there's a seven-mile wildlife drive with stopping points for viewing whoever happens to be around; also a tiny oak savanna (1/10-mile loop) trail and a prairie trail with an oak grove in the middle with a bench (1/2-mile loop). And it's September; hiking season will be over at some point.
We got a late start but arrived with about five hours of daylight ahead of us. Sherburne is near Sand Dunes National Forest, and its soil is also sandy. It's a lightly rolling landscape full of marshes, pools, and prairie, broken by lines and clumps of trees. You drive through a short stretch of mature restored prairie to reach the actual wildlife drive. It was awash in blooming goldenrod and blue and white asters and rich brown grasses.
We stopped at the Oak Savanna Trail and had a sandwich, read the list of plants presently blooming (six kinds of goldenrod, four kinds of white aster, two kinds of blue aster, rough blazing star, and boneset) and then walked out on the tiny boardwalk. We examined what looked like an abandoned bald eagle's nest through one of the spotting scopes provided, and then started looking at spreadwings (yet another kind of damselfly) in the tall grass that the boardwalk runs through.
Here is an image of a spreadwing that one might see in Minnesota, though I don’t know if that’s what we did see.
A flicker of motion in the distance caught my attention, and I looked up to see three sandhill cranes landing across the prairie near the road we'd come on. "A family," said Raphael, looking through the binoculars. "See the juvenile?" I did see the juvenile, which did not have all its red in yet but was almost as large as its parents. The cranes started walking through the grass, not unlike herons stalking through shallow water; occasionally they would bend their long necks down and poke around in the grass roots, and occasionally one of them would make a sharp dart and come up with food and swallow it.
It was hard to decide whether the cranes were more awesome through binoculars or just as tall shapes against the pale road and prairie, bending and straightening, wandering apart and together again. If you didn't look through binoculars you could also see meadowhawks darting around, the spreadwings rising to catch tiny insects and settling again to eat them, the unexpected wind shaking the oak leaves and the grass and the asters. From time to time a darner moved across the larger prairie, veering after prey or just powering along.
At last a truck came fairly fast along the road, raising a cloud of dust, and the cranes paused, considered, opened their huge wings and rose up, gawky but graceful, and flew away low over the grasses. We went back to looking at smaller wildlife
I was trying to spot a spreadwing through the binoculars when I saw what looked like an animated tangle of brown grass. I said to Raphael, “There’s some kind of mantis there!” and when Raphael expressed astonishment, I added, “It’s very stick-y,” which allowed Raphael to come up with the actual name: It was a stick insect. It took a few moments for me to describe its location and for Raphael to see it, and then I had trouble finding it again through the binoculars, but it was busy clambering around against the wind, so we did both get a good look at it. It was only the second stick insect I’d seen in Minnesota. The other was at Wild River State Park. That one was much larger and was rummaging around in a pile of leaves at the edge of the parking lot. This one was fascinating because its camouflage was so great, and yet it did have to move around, so you could differentiate it from the grass if you worked at it.
We’d arrived in the deep of the afternoon when smaller birds are quiet. We heard a few goldfinches murmuring, and a phoebe carrying on, and a chickadee. We left the boardwalk, admiring the asters waving in the non-foreseen but welcome breeze, and walked around the oak savanna loop. The little oak saplings tangled among the other shrubbery were already starting to turn red. White asters poked their flowerheads through leaves belonging to other plants, to startling effect. Autumn meadowhawks floated and hovered and darted, snatching up gnats from the clouds around them. We had seen a monarch butterfly in the asters while we were eating our lunch, and also a dark-phase swallowtail wandering over the grass; now we saw a painted lady butterfly.
We made an attempt to leave, but a darner landed on a drooping dead branch of an oak tree right in front of the car. The sun was behind it and we couldn’t get a good look without tramping heedlessly into the prairie, so we didn’t, but its silhouette was lovely against the brilliant sky.
We drove on, past tall browning and reddening grasses, clumps of goldenrod, clouds of asters. Darners flew up from the sides of the road and zoomed away. We found at the turning that the refuge had reversed the direction of the wildlife drive since we were there last, which was momentarily confusing; but we found our way, and stopped at the Prairie Trail. I pointed out some thoroughly spent plants of spotted horsemint. We’d seen it in bloom, if you can call it that, at William O’Brien. It’s a very weird-looking plant. Here’s a photo:
This observation continued my inability to accurately provide the names of things; I’d just called it horsemint and Raphael reminded me that that particular weird plant was spotted horsemint. There are other horsemints, but they don’t look so strange. As we stood looking over the rise and fall of the little prairie, with folds of alder and sumac, and lines and whorls of different grasses and goldenrod, all truly starred with the blue and white asters, I said that I loved how big the sky was at Sherburne. Raphael noted that it was a slate-blue just now; we assumed that was the haze of the wildfire smoke all the way from the west coast, a somber reminder of far too many things.
We took the grassy path, startling small grasshoppers out of our way and stirring up meadowhawks from the tall plants and shrubs. We saw a monarch; we saw a painted lady. Passing through a little grove of young alders, on almost every tip of the dead trees intermingled with the living there was a meadowhawk perched. They swept upwards, snatched a gnat or fly, landed to eat again. Raphael showed me how to identify a female autumn meadowhawk: they have a definite bulge just below the thorax, which was easy to see against the sky. Darners zipped past from time to time. If it was a green darner we could usually tell even from just a glance. The others were mosaic darners, but harder to identify in passing.
I think it was as we approached the oak grove that we started seriously trying to identify the grasses. We’d known big bluestem, aka turkey-tail, for years. After seeing it labelled repeatedly here and there, I could pick out the charming clumps of little bluestem, just knee-high, with their pale fluffy flowers lined up and catching the light. We’d looked at an informational sign at the trailhead, but its drawings of Indian grass and switch grass didn’t look right. Raphael pulled up the photo of the sign about grasses at the visitor center at Wild River, which had struck both of us at the time as much more informative than other attempts to depict native grasses; and we could suddenly identify Indian grass after all. It has a long, narrow rich brown seed head with varying degrees of spikiness; some are quite streamlined and others are tufty and look as if they need combing. And we felt more confident about the switch grass with its airy spreading seed heads.
Raphael pointed out a beetle on the path, maybe a Virginia leatherwing, and then realized that it looked like a moth. A little research when we reached the oak grove and sat down showed that it was a net-winged beetle, and the entry even mentioned that it looked quite a bit like a leatherwing.
The bench we were sitting on was made from boards of recycled plastic. At some point Raphael had had enough sitting and went ahead a little way just to see what was there. I’d noticed when I sat down that there were verses from the Bible printed on the back of the bench in some kind of marker. On the left was the passage from Matthew that begins, “Come unto me you who are weary and heavy-laden,” and on the right the passage from John that begins, “For God so loved the world.” These might have been written in different hands. But the passage in the middle was definitely in a different hand, and began, “We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine.” The ending of the passage was a bit smeared and I couldn’t read all of it, but at the bottom the name “hunter s. thompson” was clear enough. I followed Raphael and relayed the beginning of the passage. “Hunter s. thompson!” said Raphael, going back to the bench with me. “It’s from <i>Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas</i>.” Raphael looked this up too, and showed me the unsmeared passage on the cellphone.
Giggling a bit, we went on our way. We were now well around the loop and into the straight stretch back to the car. From the other side I’d pointed out a lovely layering of grasses, goldenrod, a narrow cleft of willow scrub, and a candy-red line of sumac. Now we came to the sumac from the other side. On the path in front of us was a butterfly. “What is that?” said Raphael. “It’s a Red Admiral,” I said confidently, but it wasn’t. It was another Painted Lady. Raphael consolingly told me that they were both Vanessa, very closely related, but the Red Admiral is very common in Minnesota and I was chagrined that I’d misidentified something else as that.
We came to a little stretch of boardwalk over a marshy area. On a shrub was a shimmery amber-tinged odonate. I pointed it out to Raphael. It turned out to be another autumn meadowhawk, though it looked as if it ought to be an Eastern Amberwing, or at least a Band-Winged Meadowhawk. It had perched on a bit of red-stemmed dogwood, just to be extra-cooperative. We went on through the cattails and willow, past a minute patch of open water and up onto the grassy path again. Raphael pointed out that where the path climbed back out of the tiny marsh there was a nice view over the rest of the open water and the winding marsh with more willow, and cattails, and a shrub we should have known but didn’t. (I briefly misidentified it as more red-stemmed dogwood, because it was my day to misidentify everything; but it had deep purple stems and leaves just starting to turn reddish.)
On our right for the end of our walk was the brilliant sumac and the cleft of alder saplings, all their leaves fluttering and twinkling in the wind and sunlight; on the left a long slope of prairie grasses interrupted by goldenrod and asters. More darners sailed by. The sky had lost its smoky cast and was a fine late-summer deep blue. We came back to the car and Raphael began to drive away, but I exclaimed at the sight of a big clump of stiff goldenrod covered with pollinators. We didn’t get out, but looked our fill from the car. Big bumblebees, a Ctenucha moth, beetles, ambush bugs. Once Raphael started reading it, I had to edit this entry to correct the Ctenucha moth's name and type, so have another link, since they are very handsome:
There’s one more trail you can actually walk along, near the end of the wildlife drive, but there was a sign at the beginning saying that it was flooded. Before that we drove past long stretches of marsh, open water, and rolling prairie, all patched with clumps of trees. From time to time there would be a wider spot in the road, sometimes a formal space big enough for three or four cars, with a bench or two, or a platform over a low spot with spotting scopes and some informational signs about the wildlife; others just a metal platform with railings, where you could stand and look over the water. We tentatively identified the spot where we’d once common moorhens, which are not so common that we weren’t deeply excited. We’ve also seen muskrats and various ducks in these locations, and once there was a gigantic cloud of mosaic darners all brown and yellow – I seem to recall that some of them were lance-tipped darners, but I may be wrong. This time we heard water birds making a ruckus, but couldn’t see them. Darners came by in about the density that they had been all the while. Over one platform we saw what turned out to be a northern harrier; these guys have an amazing acrobatic flight, and they’re reddish on the underside and bluish on the back. I excitedly called this one a kestrel, which would be smaller and have the colors reversed: bluish on the underside and red on the back. We also very clearly saw a nighthawk with its white wing bars, though the sun was still up.
We also saw some cedar waxwings fly-catching from a tree with a dead top, and heard a yellow warbler.
At last we came to a stretch of water, islands, and snags so large that it had two separate viewing-spots. From the first we saw several groups of large white birds. I thought the first were swans, but they were white pelicans. There were also some swans, however. We came finally around a curve of the gravel road to an observation station in a little oak grove, overlooking the far side of this large sheet of water. This is where most of the dead trees are, and here, to our delight, we saw as we’ve seen before several times a very large number of cormorants. The sun was setting by then, off to our right. The sky was pink and the water reflected it. Many cormorants were roosting already, but some were still coming out of the water; they would land on a branch, sometimes settling and sometimes glancing off several different trees before finding one that suited them, or one in which the other cormorants accepted them. It was hard to be sure. Then they would spread their wings out to dry, looking as if they were practicing to be bats for Halloween.
We found the swans and pelicans we’d seen from the other viewing station, though it was getting pretty dark by then. Cormorants still flew up into the trees and spread their wings. Through binoculars you could see the ones that had folded their wings now preening their breast feathers. Some of them had pale necks and brown fronts rather than being entirely black. I mentioned this to Raphael, who looked it up in Sibley and confirmed that those were juvenile cormorants.
It was getting quite dark by then and the mosquitoes were starting to think about biting us in earnest. We drove past two more pools; beside one two groups of people we’d seen pass earlier, a third car I didn’t recognize from before, and a man using a wheelchair were standing and gesticulating. We pulled up and got out. The water and trees were lovely in the twilight, but we didn’t see any wildlife. The solitary man went away in his wheelchair, the unfamiliar car left, and we followed, watching the varied texture of the grass and flowers fade away into the dark.
There are lots of good SF stories being written these days, printed in a wide range of places, and the first two editions of this collection have been full of really good ones.
I mention this now because the Kickstarter for the third edition has just opened. You can get e-books of the first two editions there as well as ebook and print copies of the third edition.
Review copy provided by Haikasoru Books.
This is one of the weirdest books I’ve read in a long time. The Bamboo, the creatures in it, are described as vampires, but they’re really more grass monsters who eat human carrion. They’re described as scary, but I’m not particularly scared by them so much as baffled by their strange, secretive, hierarchical laws. (For me, this is a feature, not a bug.) And on basically every other page, I’m left saying, “What? What?” (Again, a feature, not a bug.)
There are three sections varying widely in time, with different protagonists. Even within the sections, the timeline swings wildly, spending pages on a conversation translated lovingly to attempt to show what level of formality the Japanese conversation used (oh, a losing battle) and then going over forty years in a single line. I would say that it’s full of plot twists, but that sounds very linear, very straightforward, as though things are following one upon another with logic–it is full of plot twists the way the dream you are trying to remember from two nights ago is full of plot twists. “And then you what? Why? Okay.”
And then the grass monster reached the end of their life and exploded into flowers. What? Okay. No, different section, they ate someone who they thought was abusing a prostitute. What? Okay. If that’s not okay with you, you should probably move along, because that’s what there is here, a whole lot of angst and monsters and randomness, and some of you are saying, gosh, no thanks, and some of you are saying, sign me on up.
Please consider using our link to buy A Small Charred Face from Amazon.
Chaz Brenchley, Dust-Up at the Crater School Chapter 7. Kindle. Plotty, moving forward, full of dust storms and schoolgirl antics, as one would expect for this project.
George Eliot, Middlemarch. Kindle. And this is what happened to my early September. Middlemarch is surprising; it is delightful. It is one of the longest classics of English literature, and it is a joy to read. I kept thinking that I would want to leaven it with bits of something else, go off and take a break and read something in the middle of it. I didn’t. (I mean, I always have a book of short pieces going. But other than that.) While I was reading Middlemarch, I kept wanting to read Middlemarch, and when I was done reading it I wanted more of it. The only thing of its size that’s at all comparable in my attachment to it is John Sayles’s A Moment in the Sun, and that does not have the passionate following Middlemarch has–wherever I mentioned it I found that friends and strangers were ready to share my delight in this wandering intense chatty behemoth of a book. I’m discussing it with a friend who’s reading it with me. I’m not sure I have a lot to add for the general audience except to say, it’s funny, it’s intense, it’s gigantic emotionally as well as literally, it makes me want to read more George Eliot, it makes me want to read its giant self all over again. It is in some ways exactly what you would expect and in other ways nothing like what you’d expect. It is thoroughly itself. And oh, I love her, I love George Eliot so very much. I’m glad I read such a quotable thing when I was past the age of needing to strip-mine books for epigraphs. I can do that later. I’m glad I could just relax in and read this first time.
Masha Gessen, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. I enjoyed another of Gessen’s books and picked this up because the library had it, more or less on a whim. And it gave me a perspective on modern Russia that nothing else has, particularly on its criminal justice system. What the prison system is doing there, what trials are like, what sorts of things are prioritized, what and who counts, what and who does not. Enraging, illuminating. There are some things Gessen just takes for granted you will know about feminist art theory and punk, but I think it may still be interesting if you don’t? but even better if you do. Also, if you have a very strong high culture/low culture divide, read this book and have that nonsense knocked out of you. Not that I have an opinion about that.
Steve Inskeep, Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab. This is very much in the popular history category: short chapters, many things explained on a fairly straightforward level. Not a lot of delving deep into the obscure corners. However, Inskeep does a fairly good job of switching back and forth between the lens of the European settlers turned recent Americans and the lens of the cultures of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole, and especially Cherokee people in the region he was discussing. One of the things that this particularly underscored for me is how quickly the European/American settlers viewed the land as traditionally theirs in that part of the south: the beginning of the Cherokee Trail of Tears was twenty-three years before the US Civil War. Even the earliest of the resettlements was only thirty years before. So in some parts of the Deep South, there were indeed plantations that had been going for generations–but in large, large swaths of it, the land they were fighting so hard for was land they had just taken from its previous owners basically five minutes ago. References to traditional way of life in that context are basically like talking about GameBoys and other hand-held gaming devices as our traditional way of life: they are bullshit. I think the way we are taught this period of history in American schooling encourages us not to think of that. I will want to read much deeper works on Andrew Jackson’s presidency. In this case I will say: Inskeep is not trying to paint him as a great guy or not a racist…and I still think he ends up going too easy on him. But it’s a good starter work for this period, I think.
Ursula K. LeGuin, The Language of the Night. Reread. The last time I read this was before I was keeping a book log, which means also before I was selling short stories regularly. I was a lot less prone to argue with assertions about fantasy not needing to compromise then. (Oh nonsense, of course it does.) But one of the things that makes Ursula LeGuin a great writer is that she argues with her past self, too. She evolves. She evolves in the course of this collection. And I think she’d be far happier with people thinking and arguing than uncritically absorbing anyway.
Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch. So…I didn’t mean to go straight from Middlemarch to a book about it, but the other thing I had from the library, I bounced off, and…I wasn’t ready to be done. This is Mead’s memoir entangled with a bit of biography of Eliot. There are places where Mead is bafflingly obtuse (some areas of gender politics and the writing of sexuality, notably, but also the difference between a character who is fully human and a character who is generally sympathetic), but in general it is short and rattles along satisfyingly and tells me things I want to know about George Eliot without telling me too many things I actively didn’t want to know about Rebecca Mead.
A. Merc Rustad, So You Want to Be a Robot. This is a solid and heart-wrenching collection. It’s impossible to pick one true favorite because there are so many good choices. Definitely highly recommended, Merc hits it out of the park here. And they’re just getting started.
Gerald Vizenor, Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles. This is when Vizenor was just getting started, and gosh I’m glad I didn’t get started with his early work, because…why, oh why, did so many men of the seventies–particularly men who wanted to claim they were ecologically minded without doing much about it–pick the same direction for their demonstrations of their own sexual daring? Well, Vizenor grew out of it. But it’s a one of those. The person who wrote the afterword was sure that objections to it would be because people thought Indians couldn’t be like that! and no, it’s that it’s trite, it’s exactly the kind of trite sexual objectification of women–especially Indian women–that you’d expect from “seventies dude trying to be sexually shocking.” He got better. I’m glad.
Caliban's War by James S.A. CoreySecond in the Expanse series, this volume revolves around the crisis on Ganymede, and the associated blue-eyed beastie. Entertaining adventure SF, recommended.
Far-Seer by Robert J. SawyerA tale of Galileo, if Galileo was a sentient dinosaur living on the moon of a tidally locked gas giant. Interesting world- and myth-building, recommended.
Winter Witch by Elaine CunninghamSet in the world of the Pathfinder roleplaying game, this is a light fantasy about a Viking woman, an urban mage, and the icy witch who brings them together. Mildly recommended.
Damnation Alley by Roger ZelaznyLoosely similar to the movie, murderer and rapist Hell Tanner is given a chance at a clean slate if he'll ferry a plague cure across a ravaged America. It's clearly supposed to be some sort of redemption tale, but Zelazny missed the memo that some crimes don't get redemption. I honestly prefer the movie.
Venus Equilateral by George O. SmithFixup novel of a series of stories published in the 1940s in Astounding, revolving around a communications relay station and the scientific geniuses therein. The science is advanced and accurate for its era, but has not dated terribly well. (The problems they encounter in communicating with, and locating, spaceships were solved in much simpler ways within the author's lifetime.) By the end, the science has advanced so far that it's almost shifted genres from hard SF to morality play. Mildly recommended.
My Patreon is trucking along, but I haven’t been good about linking to it here. So have a list of recent posts!
This week’s post (sneak preview!) will be on rites of passage, followed by a bonus post on the theory of worldbuilding, since that’s one of the funding goals we’ve reached. Remember, this is all funded by my lovely, lovely patrons — and if you join their ranks, you get weekly photos, plus (at higher levels) opportunities to request post topics or get feedback on your own worldbuilding!
1 second interview
This summer was way more frustrating about teaching jobs than it has been in the past, in no small part because I really truly was doing an awesome job of applying places. I thought I was doing relatively well at interviewing. Maybe my references weren't as good as they could be, but in general, I was really putting myself out there and trying...and still getting nothing.
On Wednesday the 23rd of August, I got a call --would you be willing to come in?
On Thursday the 24th of August, I had an interview.
On Friday the 25th of August, I got a call.
On Monday the 28th of August, my perfect birthday, I woke up unbearably early and biked to school. Monday and Tuesday were teacher days, Wednesday was the first day with students. It's now partway through the fourth week of school, and I have finally gotten the HR bullshit sorted out and a paycheck into my bank account and that means it's really truly officially real.
I am a professional high school mathematics teacher.
For the whole year, from the beginning. At a public high school, with all the diversity and benefits that implies. With five classes and about eighty students (a frankly amazing average ratio) and oh my _dear sweet weeping gods_.
I am fully, blessedly, employed, in a place I love, doing exactly the thing I want to be doing with my life. Yes, it's frustrating that all my work searching this summer was for naught, but I can forgive the universe its machinations.
I've been sitting tight on announcing this until it was real, and it's been killing me. No matter how much I will complain over the next ten months about the early mornings and endless prep work, I am so so unbelievably very happy.
On Monday, August 28th, I celebrated my perfect birthday by starting at my perfect job.
FAQs: No I won't tell you where specifically online. Algebra 1, Discrete Math, and Calculus. Some 9th graders, mostly 12th graders. Yes the commute sucks less than the private school one. Yes the pay is better --I'm making a bit over $50k this year. Yes, I am so so so so happy.
 I had this great idea about the heptarchate's founding but.
NOTE: I make no guarantees.
What *existing* characters would you like to see more stories about?
mystery POV #1 from Revenant Gun that Yoon evilly refuses to divulge
servitor POV #2 from Revenant Gun
someone else that I will mention in comments
ticky the tookie tocky
This morning it was overcast and a bit cool, by this evening via mildly drizzly has become colder and wetter.
Nontheless, we have managed some flaneurserie around the Old Town, a visit to St Mary's Cathedral with its massive gothic altar, and several museums:
The temporary exhibition of 350 items from the The Princes Czartoryski Museum
All of which leaves me rather too overwhelmed to say much beyond: that's a hell of a lot of old scientific instruments/apothecary paraphernalia, and dealers across Europe must has seen the Czartoryskis coming, with their interest in associational historical items (I would guess scamsters moved into this after the decline in fake relics?).
There was also (v expensive) coffee taken in a very plush place with numerous historical associations.
Place is generally heaving with tourists and tour groups.
My feeling now is that I'll keep the big zoom, really don't use the wider end of the 18-55 enough to justify keeping it, and will probably replace the 18-55 and the 35mm with a good 50mm lens, it's more the sort of focal length I like to work with, and my experiments with the Yonguo lens on the Canon showed that I was getting some reasonable results. Needless to say the Nikon-fit 50mm lenses are hugely more expensive than the Canon-fit Yonguo. There is no urgency about any of this, of course, so the master plan is to get a good 50mm first (or possibly a 60mm Micro-Nikkor if one comes my way) and worry about the rest of it later.
I'll tell you something which summarizes a large part of the last several years of my life. Many people avoid participating in a group, in order to avoid a specific individual who is imposing a severe cost on them. Sometimes this is a serial rapist. Sometimes this is a stalker. But it ranges in severity and subtlety. Sometimes it's public mockery which results in a chilling effect on the group's creativity.
Lots of people want to avoid paying that cost, so they quietly leave the group.
Despite this, time and time again, those who remain in the group refuse to turn their backs on the individual perpetrating the mistreatment. These are the "Good People". Good People will change the subject onto good intentions. Good People will feel pity. Good People will debate whether the person is "really bad at heart". Good People will accept empty apologies for behavior which never stops. The one thing Good People will not think about is the terrible outcome the group is getting.
Because Good People will not, as a group, formally turn our backs on one individual who mistreats us, Good People effectively turn our backs on the countless people who don't want to come around any more because they will be mistreated.
I watch that pattern repeat over and over. I have stopped arguing with the rapists and the thieves and the stalkers and the intimidators. I argue almost exclusively to get the Good People to come around. I have spent years of my life documenting rapes, stalking, thefts, complaints. Years arguing and cajoling and working to convince groups, such as Penguicon and i3Detroit hacker space, to turn our backs on an individual.
The argument I have found most persuasive is this. You may not realize just how high a cost you have personally paid in relationships you did not develop, with people who just vanished before that could happen, because someone was consistently harmful but you were too much of a Good Person to fire them, to exclude them, to tell them to leave. You paid an invisible cost for that. I am paying it too.
I want to make it visible to you.
Today it was a surprise short story royalty check in the morning mail.
Not a large one . . . given that most short story payments are lucky if they make in into the low three figures, most short story royalties tend to be in the exceedingly low two figures. If that. (If a short story payment is a tank, maybe two tanks, of gas, then a typical short story royalty check is maybe a couple of quarts of motor oil.) But still, a royalty check is a royalty check, and not yet another piece of junk mail from Capital One, trying to sell me a credit card.
As they say back where I come from, it beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
One of my cats (Alex) was entirely hidden within the depths of a shoebox-size Priority Mail box. He has just now emerged, and his sister Erin has vanished inside.
No cat photos because I don't have an X-Ray camera.
On MetaFilter, I posted about a transparency case pending before a California appeals court; the EFF and ACLU have submitted amicus curiae briefs saying (to simplify) that the right to due process includes the right to inspect source code used to convict you. Evidently the creator of the closed-source DNA testing software doesn't think so. As is often the case on MetaFilter, there are very lucid explanations in the comments regarding complicated technical issues.
And I really like the photo I used to illustrate the potential for algorithmic bias.
Those of you in NYC, the show is going to be at the Apollo, and tickets go on sale next week, I believe.
There are two primary, opposing points of view: a Latina cop, and a group of teenagers on the run, looking for solutions through cryptic messages from the past (dancers in white sweats, notes dropped on the floor of an abandoned house). There are shootings. There's a school closing. There's a plot twist which I guessed pretty quickly but was still dramatically effective. There was a lot of really good singing and dancing, but not as much spoken word as I'd expected.
I'm not sure how I feel about a male countertenor (John Holiday) playing a trans boy, but damn was he a good singer. The bass (Aubrey Allicock) was also particularly fine, I felt (I have a weakness for basses, so caveat emptor). The bass did most of his second act singing while lying on the floor or propped in someone's arms, which was impressive.
I most loved the choral singing by the entire cast, as you might expect if you know me. My favorite solo was at the end, sung by one of the female dancers - I want to hear that piece again, several times; it was mesmerizing.
Music by Daniel Bernard Roumain, libretto by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, choreography by Raphael Xavier and Bill T. Jones, directed by Bill T. Jones.
I got home about 11:30 pm, then had to shower and wind down, so I am pretty draggy at dayjob today. Our first choir rehearsal of the season is tonight, 7-9 pm. *blinks*
I'm not quite ready for autumn. I haven't changed over my wardrobe; I suppose that happens this week and weekend. Last night I changed my blanket from summer- to winter-weight. I don't have quite the right shoes for this weather; the boots that I've worn for three years now have got holes in them--perhaps not the quality I thought they were when I bought them.
And Rosh Hashannah is bearing down upon us with me, once again, not having tickets for services anywhere because I don't belong to a synagogue and because it's the busiest time of year for me at work. (Most synagogues don't know what to do with me anyway; they're set up for families, not for independent Women of a Certain Age.) I failed to get tickets for services at UW's Hillel, which I've done before. I live within walking distance of the local Chabad House (the only congregation in town that doesn't require a donation for High Holiday tickets), but I wasn't brought up Orthodox. And though their outreach is friendly and welcoming, I'm a little intimidated by the prospect of what will surely be a less-than-egalitarian approach to services. I'm not the sitting-in-the-back-row type. And so I'm once again a little bereft at this time of year.
And, as mentioned above, it's the busiest time of year at work, which means I've got tons of work to do, oftentimes overseen by a million managers, all of whom want to have check-in meetings to ensure the work is getting done. Which means talking to my actual manager about the irony of negotiating the work needing to be done versus attending meetings to report on said work. I can meet or I can execute; I can't do both effectively simultaneously. This year, it seems like it's worse than it's ever been. I keep putting off or declining meetings, and the managers who run said meetings want just five minutes, which often ends up turning into an hour anyway. And then I have to explain myself and my work to everyone. Especially irritating are the compliance managers, who insist that they don't have to be familiar with our website (on which I work) but then insist that I give them a tour to ensure I'm doing the work. It's maddening.
So, yeah. The turn of the calendar comes and the darker, cooler, wetter days, the busier days, come along with it. I miss living somewhere with a more gradual segue into autumn and winter. But every now and then we get a glimpse of the beauty that autumn can offer and I'm pleased.
So, here I am in St Louis and if you saw yesterday’s blog post you might have noticed there are no St Louis dates on the tour.
Thanks to Left Bank Books, there’ll be an event in the Central West End called BookFest St. Louis. There will be lots of writers there, and the vast majority of panels and whatnot are free! (I think there are, like, two exceptions.)
There’s going to be a Science Fiction panel at 5pm on Saturday, September 23, with Charlie Jane Anders, Annalee Newitz, Mark Tiedemann….and me!
If you are in St Louis this weekend, come to BookFest! Left Bank Books is a lovely store with a very nice SF section and worth visiting on its own, but just look at all the folks who are going to be here! Do come to the CWE this weekend if you can!
Mirrored from Ann Leckie.
[I feel, based on my own reactions each time I think about the loss described here, like I should provide some kind of content-warning to avoid ruining someone's day if this is their nightmare fuel. But I'm really not sure what form this warning should take.]( Linda Ronstadt describes what she can't do. May be upsetting to artists. Many people may just calmly think 'oh, that's sad'. )
I was pretty pooped afterwards though. I meant to go back out to do a raid after lunch, but thought I'd lay down for a twenty minute nap which turned into two and a half hours. Ooops.
What I did get started on which was semi-productive was fixing up my jeans. The smallest pair of jeans from several years ago (probably when I first moved here) fit, but it had gaping holes in the inner thigh area (as one does). It was really comfy and I didn't feel like giving it up, so I basically double-patched it: inside and outside. That's some reinforcement in the places which get the most friction, and hopefully this will hold up. I think it'll work out well.
Today I spent puzzling out how to alter my jacket sleeves. I think I undid my stitches on the left sleeve about 8 times trying to make it lay down right. Finally I gave up on the idea of it looking perfect, since it's not going to be visible anyway, and having it so the outer layer lay down okay. I think I did all right. I'm actually not entirely sure where the sleeve should end, but when my arm is relaxed at the side, the sleeve comes up to the wrist, which I think looks professional.
I got frustrated about halfway through, and went out for lunch to Pho Vinam. I think I ate too much, though. I probably didn't need to eat half the meat on the plate, and should have just tried for a third instead. I was yawning the rest of the day, and had to lay down for a while, but I otherwise persevered, and I now have proper jacket sleeves. The right sleeve took about 5 tries. SIGH. On the bright side, I think I can say that my slip stitch is improving.
I dug around my fabric stash looking for jeans material, which I could have SWORN I had somewhere, because I wanted to patch the other two pairs of old jeans (they don't fit well, but they can't be easily pulled off my hips either). I decided to use some fancy embroidered scrap to patch the inner thighs of one of my jeans instead. I feel they're fairly visible to anybody staring at my butt, but maybe this will give me manic pixie dream girl vibes.
I'm still not caught up with Night Vale (which I can only listen to when my hands are otherwise occupied by crafts) and frankly I should really vacuum my bedroom.
Tomorrow if I wake up early enough, I'll definitely try for another 5k walk. The mornings have been amazingly foggy so I don't want to lose that opportunity.
I did, however, find the book in which I had started re-writing my steampunk romance novel, so I'm gonna see what I can puzzle out of it tomorrow. Maybe I'll go downtown and do some writing? At least least get re-acquainted with this second draft of the novel.
Adventurer! Our fellowship of Necropoli Centauri Voyagers returns with the brand-new Bundle of Lamentations +2, our second offer featuring the weird-fantasy tabletop roleplaying game Lamentations of the Flame Princess. With a heavy-metal attitude and explicit non-work-safe illustrations, LotFP presents a horrific, ultra-violent twist on fantasy gaming. But for fearless gamers who are over 18 and have strong stomachs, the Lamentations line presents some of the hobby's most imaginative work from leading designers. This new LotFP collection (following last July's first spectacular offer, our top seller of 2016) includes .PDF ebooks of many recent award-winners like Broodmother Skyfortress, Blood in the Chocolate, and the amazing Veins in the Earth.
For just US$14.95 you get all eight titles in our Weird Starter Collection (retail value $62.50) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
2: The garage is not usable as an ingress to the house just now, as there is scaffolding there, because we had water damage and our contractor needs to see how bad it is. We also have carpenter ants in one corner. The composite board is at least not disintegrating, but I am now of the opinion that composite board should NEVER be on ANY load-bearing floor. Or wall.
Also, roofs should have a rubber membrane that goes up over a foot at any house-join, so that when ICE DAMS happen, they do not overflow the plastic at the joins, come in the back, and RUIN EVERYTHING.
Further, the ENTIRE CEILING of the garage is not up to fire-code. It's only 1 layer of... whatever that stuff is called. Not drywall? The other thing. I can't remember. But it should be 2 layers, not 1. But noooooo, the people who put it together didn't put in both layers. FURTHER, they doubled-up on the plastic sheeting that's supposed to be on only one side of insulated walls (to keep moisture from being trapped in the middle layer and turning the insulation into Mold Surface Central), and didn't secure the wood slats of the ceiling grid (that holds up the insulation) to all the two-by-fours correctly. Especially at the edges. AND they didn't use long enough screws in the ceiling such that he was being surprised that we hadn't had a chunk of ceiling start coming down.
Having a friend who is a total stickler for code come and SUPERVISE house-building seems like a worthwhile investment at this moment.
3: If you are a lunch restaurant and are closed to customers 10 minutes before your closing time, I am going to tell Apple Maps that your closing time listing is wrong, unless you have a note on the door that the kitchen had to close up early or something. YES, I think people should get to go home promptly! However, I also think that presenting "closing time" to staff as "time we should go home by" is going to make for cranky customers. (We're not the only ones who were hoping to get in under the wire.) Staff should be paid for hanging around till the No More Customers Allowed In closing time! I believe Management is not setting correct Staff expectations. (Or, possibly, not paying them enough for those expectations.)
I am more sympathetic to an evening restaurant closing a little early if they have no customers in the building. I mean, they don't expect last-minute people and it's dark.
It is frustrating to hit BOTH of those in one day, though. -_-
E____ says, “...The Widowmaker/Sombra ship is Spiderbyte and I will hear nothing to the contrary.
( INwatch+Bookwatch )
( Dragons under fold )
Connie Johnson died after a long battle with breast cancer earlier this month.
Samuel sees the socks (which reference their nicknames Connie Cottonsocks and Sammy Seal) as an extension of The Project host Carrie Bickmore’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer initiative.
“Seeing as Carrie has the whole Beanie thing covered, we thought we’d bung out some ‘Connie Cottonsocks’ and try and cover this cancer conundrum from head to toe,” Samuel wrote on the Love Your Sister Facebook page.
“Connie doesn’t have any use for your sentiment now. If she wanted anyone to take anything from her life, it was to highlight the importance of medical research. And we all need socks right?
“In the name of my dear gone sister, I’m asking. Please buy some socks and then maybe we can share the absolute bejesus out of this post and turbocharge our push for a cure, so families need not continue to endure the baseless trauma that cancer so cruelly provides.
“I want my sister back but seeing as that’s not going to happen, I might as well sell some f***ing socks so that other families don’t have to go through this pain.
I remain, more than ever, very truly yours. Samuel Johnson Head of Cancer Vanquishment.”
But... Here's the text I just sent them:
You know, if you're going to ask the whole world, you really ought to allow the whole world to answer.
Then, a few minutes ago, I took the dog out for a walk, and the neighbor came out, and said, look at the trunk of your pine. Whoa!
Here's from the side. click and embiggen, to see how far around the trunk they go.
And this below is from the sidewalk. Look in the upper portion of the trunk--that is a zillion bees tightly packed together.
That looks so . . . weird.
If they're still there in a couple of days, I'll have to find beekeepers to move them. My son's biological family on the female side has a deadly bee allergy running through them--his bio uncle has to carry an epipen everywhere, and my patio is about the size of two bedsheets put together. In fact, when I dry my laundry outside, I can only get one set of bedding out there at a time.
EDITED TO ADD: Between one check and the next ten minutes later, they suddenly vanished. I would have loved to see them swarm! But they are gone, and I hope they find a good, safe home.
On the other hand, the screening will be introduced by Thelma Schoonmaker and this is how Andrew Moor in Powell and Pressburger: A Cinema of Magic Spaces (2012) writes about David Niven as Squadron Leader Peter David Carter, the pilot hero of A Matter of Life and Death (look out, textbrick, for once it's not me):
Never an actor of great range, Niven came instead to embody and to articulate a rather out-of-date ideal: gentlemanliness – or 'noblesse oblige'. His light tenor and gamin beauty are those of the nobility: he reveals, if provoked, the upright steeliness of a man with backbone, but this grit often shades over into a likeable, smiling insolence. Though we knew he could be naughty (and the actor was a noted practical joker), it was the forgivable naughtiness of a well-liked schoolboy It is usually his graceful amusement that impresses, rather than his physicality or intellect (to talk of 'grace' might seem antiquated, but old-fashioned words like that seem to fit). He could be the younger son of a minor aristocrat, at times silly but always charming, and in the last instance gallant, gazing upwards with a sparkle in his eyes, a light comedian who, through sensing the necessity of nonsense, is perfect as Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days (Michael Anderson, 1956, US). He is fittingly dashing in The Elusive Pimpernel (Powell and Pressburger, 1950), where as Sir Percy Blakeney he embraces foppishness with gusto. His 'airy' quality is winning, and his poetic virtues shine in AMOLAD. He may be well-mannered and eloquent but, as charmers go, his 'classiness' sits easily . . . He is undoubtedly an affectionate figure. Unkindness is not in him, and he is important in our gallery of heroes. But he is never like John Mills, the democratic 1940s ' Everyman'. Mills is the boy next door to everybody and, while that is a nice neighborhood, we really aspire to live next door to Niven. Is it a question of class? We suppose Niven to be a good host of better parties. Mills is like us; Niven is exotic. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and during the war Niven stood for some of the most valued of principles, but his quality (or was it just his prettiness?) seemed the stuff of a previous, and probably mythical, time. Niven himself was a Sandhurst-trained army man, who joined the Highland Light Infantry in 1928 and served in Malta for two years before drifting towards America and into film acting. In 1939, when he left Hollywood for the army, he was a star, and managed to complete two propaganda films during the war while also serving in the Rifle Brigade . . . In the opening sequence of AMOLAD, it is hard to think of another actor who could mouth Powell and Pressburger's airborne script so convincingly. Bravely putting his house in order, saying his farewells and leaping from his burning plane, he is ridiculously, tearfully beautiful. Notably, it is his voice, travelling to Earth in radio waves, which first attracts the young American girl June, not his looks, and later it is his mind which is damaged, not his body. It is difficult, in fact, to think of the slender Niven in terms of his body at all. We remember the face, and a moustache even more precise and dapper than Anton Walbrook's (which was hiding something). Like Michael Redgrave in The Way to the Stars, he is the most celebrated man of war – the pilot who belongs in the clouds.
So I'm thinking about it.
Thank you for the copy of All Systems Red, which I am really stoked about getting to read. (For the curious, my local bookstores didn't stock it.)
I have turned on anonymous comments for the moment, which are screened. If you'd like me to write you a thank-you flashfic, please feel free to leave a comment to this post. I'm probably going to turn off anonymous comments by week's end (sooner if I start having problems with spam comments).