Oct. 19th, 2016 01:30 pm
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
So the Captain Awkward community like to make up terms for stuff, which serves multiple purposes, one of which is of course helping the in-group to bond. Anyway, recently I came across a term that might fill a lexical gap in my life: The Awe Ritual says:
The Cap is my “mermaid.” On a face level, we’re ferociously compatible and mates for life and frequently go off to make brainbabies, but below the waist, we’re just different species and not equipped to handle each others’ affections
I think I need a term like that; I'm more inclined to make it gender neutral by saying merfriend, but yes, there are people that I not only love very much, but am committed to and prioritize in way people expect for partners while we are not even slightly romantically involved.

thoughts about relationships )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
In the little breathing space between Yom Kippur and Succot, I managed to squeeze in some time with my loves, and we used some of it to play games.

reviews )

So yay, happy gamer.
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
So I've made it to 5777, and successfully led the Rosh haShana services. Attendance was quite low; we had I think 8 people for the evening and just barely enough for a minyan on the day. Several of our regulars are away and we didn't get any visitors; I hope there's no particular reason for that like not letting people know about the service who needed to. Best compliment to receive as shlicha tzibbur (service leader): I can't believe it's half past one already, the time went really quickly and that didn't drag at all.

I learned from [ profile] GWillowWilson on Twitter that the thing of RH coinciding with the Islamic new year happens every 33 years, which explains why I don't remember it happening before. Also it's pretty cool to learn new religion facts from the author of Ms Marvel. Does anyone want to explain to me how we get from a 19-year lunisolar cycle to synching with the Muslims' solely lunar [sic] calendar every 33 years?

I'm moderately proud of this year's sermon, so I'll include it behind a cut. Basically I decided to talk about Ibn Gabirol's piyyut (religious poem) The crown of glory, because [ profile] ghoti went to Malaga recently and sent me a postcard of a statue of him. And because I miss the poetry from the Reform liturgy I grew up with. (My community use the Birnbaum which I believe is a fairly standard American Orthodox Machzor, and it has a lot of Elazar haKallir's stuff, much of which I find obscure. I don't know how standard the selection of poetry is in the Orthodox liturgy.)

Ibn Gabirol on self-examination )

I haven't worked out yet what I'm going to talk about on Yom Kippur. I think maybe something about dealing with difficult texts and the possibility of arguing with God, when that's coming from a place of faith and not just rejection. Partly I'm thinking of it because last year several people asked me why we read Leviticus 18 (including the notorious abomination verse) on Yom Kippur, and I didn't have a very good answer.

Also for my own future reference and possible interest of people who are interested in this kind of thing, I read a couple of good articles about shofar in the run up to the festivals, so if I save them here I might have material for next year's RH sermon:

There was a thing going round on Twitter to the effect that maybe the Jews have the right idea, ending the year now, since 2016 / 5776 has been pretty tough in some ways. One thing I found helpful as I was looking back over the year and feeling discouraged was this sermon from R' Neil Janes, who's another youth movement contemporary of mine; he writes the kind of sermons I aspire to only he's much much better at it than me! I very much share R' Janes' view of what it was like to grow up in the optimistic time of the 90s and to feel that our world has become a worse place since then. And I like his advice: We must find a rejoinder to the pessimism of our global climate. We must hoist our flag in opposition to this and do it now.

Anyway. I was pretty shattered after the service; I had a fairly mediocre Italian meal since I wanted a treat but didn't have much energy to decide on anything more than the nearest and most convenient restaurant. And then I came home and was basically wiped out for the afternoon. Today, the second day of Rosh haShana, I was back at work and I'm enjoying the optimism of looking forward, my first session with the new first years right at the start of their medical training. And I'm wearing a lovely pendant that [ profile] ghoti gave me so I would be able to make the blessing for new things today. Yes, I still have a lot of prep to do for YK but I feel as if I'm setting out and looking forward.
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
I aspire to be the kind of person who thinks for myself and most importantly changes my views when I learn new information. And that means I spend some amount of time worrying about whether I'm actually living up to that. where I'm coming from )

So those are the two extremes. I'm unpersuaded by an article espousing a view I think is not just wrong, but ridiculous, and more so because it's written in a style and associated with a group I disapprove of. I'm persuaded by a peer-reviewed meta-analysis to change a view I was only mildly committed to anyway to one which is more aligned with my social group. What I'd like from my readers, if you'd like to play along, is for you to persuade me of some new ideas. Please send me links to arguments you find persuasive on issues you expect me to disagree with. (I'm also quite interested to discover what you think I might find objectionable; I think I've been pretty open about my opinions here over the years, but of course everybody will have their own impressions and assumptions about me.)

I've turned off screening for anon comments, so if you think your views might be met with social opprobium please feel free to offer arguments without saying who you are.
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
Over the course of this weekend:
  • A young Russian Orthodox man told me I was a beautiful mother and he wished that I could be blessed with many children if I didn't have them already. At this point, all he knew about me was that I am female, and I had just led an impromptu ten minute discussion on the opening saying from Ch 2 of Pirke Avot, the section of the Mishnah on ancestral ethics.
  • An elderly Catholic man asked me to show him all the key parts of the synagogue's architecture and furnishings so that he could see what was similar to his church. I was a little reluctant since the reason we were in synagogue was for a memorial service and it didn't seem quite the moment for touristing, but he didn't actually ask in the middle of prayers and the regulars said it was ok to give him the tour.
  • A secular woman decided that since I know how to say all the "special words in Hebrew" I should also make the decision about whether it's ok to cut corners in making tea for large numbers.
  • A middle-aged Jewish widow gave me a huge bouquet of roses to thank me for leading the prayers for her late husband's stone-setting.
So, um, I definitely feel appreciated, even if some expressions of appreciation are more welcome than others...
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
I'm really enjoying the meme that's going round mostly short-form social media where people pick three fictional characters that represent them, or describe themselves using three fictional characters. who I'm not )

So in the end I went with the following:
  • Pippin from LotR, even though he's way more heroic than I am. I've always thought of him as like me, because he's curious and impulsive and loyal, and I do like that all the hobbits are basically ordinary grown-ups who fall into an adventure in order to support their friend Frodo, rather than the destined chosen heroes of many Tolkien imitators or the adolescents of a lot of pre-Tolkien quest stories.

  • Harriet Vane from the Dorothy L Sayers detective series. Perhaps too obvious or too wish fulfilment-y a pick, she's really such a great character and people like me always want to be her. Because she's intelligent and believably intelligent, and she's a middle-aged woman with a somewhat unconventional (for her society) love life. And she's intensely romantic but still retains her identity and independence when she falls in love.

  • Lynne de Lisle Christie from Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle. She's generally competent without being an amazing genius, and she gets into a position where she can use her intelligence through a mix of native ability, hard work and family connections. She's not quite a scientist but definitely intellectually curious. She is a bit naive and impulsive and loves easily and is deeply loyal to those she commits to.

And it's Bi Visibility day but I've basically given up on trying to find any bi characters to pick. Certainly not anyone who's poly in anything like the way I am. Christie is alllllmost bi in that she has a strong romantic friendship with an alien who is mostly female (though the aliens do gender differently from humans, that's a big plot point), and sexual-romantic relationships with men and male-ish aliens.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Recently read: Lots of good stuff! linkspam )
Currently reading: still A time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor and Sisterhood by Penelope Friday, but in practice I haven't been reading much this week, I've been spending time with [personal profile] doseybat and [ profile] pyrokaren.

Up next: I've got to the stage where it's halfway through Elul and I haven't written any High Holy Days sermons or learned any Torah readings yet, so most probably material for that.

I'm considering picking up Hilary Mantel's contemporary Beyond Black as my book with a color in the title for my reading challenge, since it's been waiting on my shelves for ages.


NSFW Sep. 16th, 2016 01:23 pm
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
( You're about to view content that the journal owner has advised should be viewed with discretion. )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: this was just bullet points but it grew )
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
Tangentially to this Captain Awkward letter, where the answer mentions that the writer's half-sister may have a different conflict style from hers, I started thinking about classifying conflict styles. It feels something like the Ask / Offer distinction in styles of communication (sometimes called Ask / Guess). It's useful to know that there is more than one way of doing it, and people whose style is different from yours are not necessarily terrible awful people who can't communicate respectfully.

The problem is I'm not sure there are two distinct approaches to conflict, or even what elements should be considered in defining conflict style. noodling about this )

So help me refine my ideas? What variations in conflict style have I not thought of? What approaches to conflict and argument do you find most productive? I mean, assuming that the arguers are already upset and you can't just magically all get along. Are there any ways of arguing that you think are just bad and should always be avoided?
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
So my extremely brilliant friend Jen has written a fantastic popular article about her research: Why it's absurd for a pastor to give Donald Trump a Jewish prayer shawl. You should read it, it's only tangentially about Trump, it's about the history of Jewish ritual objects and about Jewish-Christian relations.

Also, I have thinky thoughts )
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
From a locked post:
Name ten of life's simple pleasures that you like most. Try to be original and creative and not to use things that someone else has already used
I'm not sure I'm capable of writing a list of pleasures that are both original and simple, so you might get slightly complicated pleasures, but then one of my greatest pleasures in life is exploring complexity in good company, so.

listicle )
I'm following the example of the person I got this meme from and not tagging anyone, so you're welcome to propagate the meme or not, whatever suits you.
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
So I have ended up with a bit of extra leave for the end of the academic year, so I took a couple of days at the beginning of the week to extend the bank holiday weekend.

diary )

So anyway, that did me a lot of good, and required very little planning beyond putting in a request at work for a couple of days off.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it: I had managed not to see this, I think because it came out when I was just at the age of feeling I needed to avoid media marketed at children, and it's somewhat of a classic and the sort of story I love.

Circumstances of watching it: We watched the DVD while we were relaxing after some intense touristing in Budapest.

Verdict: Lilo & Stitch is intensely sentimental about things I'm inclined to care about personally.

detailed review )


Aug. 19th, 2016 01:08 pm
liv: bacterial conjugation (attached)
It's 15 Av today, which is a Jewish love festival with a rather tenuous Rabbinic origin. And here I am very happy and in love, so I shall talk about that a bit.

contains much soppy )


Aug. 18th, 2016 07:53 pm
liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (sheeeep)
So Imzy is the new cool social network, apparently. It's in closed beta and you need an invite from an existing user to create an account. [personal profile] melannen kindly offered one, and I'm happy to pay it forward by inviting the first five people to comment.

impressions )
ETA: I created a community for DW peeps. Which magically increased my number of invitations from five to 200, so if anyone is possibly interested in an invite, you can request at the community link. And if anyone's already there, feel free to join it or not.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: A wild sheep chase by Haruki Murakami, trans Alfred Birnbaum. (c) Haruki Murakami 1982, pub Vintage 2003, ISBN 978-0-099-44877-8. This was a present from [ profile] ghoti, since it's a book she likes and it contains cute ears and I have very little exposure to Japanese lit. I found the book very mind-expanding and different from most of what I normally read, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

detailed review )

Currently reading: A time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor, as recommended to me by [personal profile] rushthatspeaks. Basically it's an account of how the author got kicked out of school and decided to walk across Europe to Constantinople, in 1933. I don't normally read travelogues, but I agree with the intro by Jan Morris, that Fermor is just an outstandingly good writer, and his descriptions are evocative enough to be exciting even though nothing really happens except that he walks around and visits places. He has the kind of assumption typical of a certain class of white English young men, that everybody will basically like him and want to help him out. He's also genuinely interested in the people he meets working on this assumption. In some ways the narrative style is reminding me of my uncle who at a similar sort of age drove a van to Australia.

I've nearly finished the section where he crosses Germany, noting the presence of the newly ascendant Nazi party but not dwelling on that to the exclusion of talking about the history and culture of the country and telling anecdotes about the various German people he meets on the way. The moment where he describes crossing the border from the Netherlands and seeing swastikas everywhere is a brilliant piece of writing, a paragraph of description of some Dutch St Vincent de Paul nuns, and then:
The officials at the Dutch frontier handed back my passport, duly stamped, and soon I was crossing the last furlongs of No Man's Land, with the German frontier post growing nearer through the turning snow. Black, white and red were painted in spirals round the road barrier and soon I could make out the scarlet flag charged with its white disc and its black swastika.

Up next: Not sure. I'm still looking out for A book with a color in the title for my very old Bringing up Burns challenge, or I may well read Novik's Uprooted.
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[ profile] ghoti planned us a group trip to Budapest, all of us, her three children and four partners. Which to me sounds like a terrifying amount of organization, but basically she booked budget flights and rented us a huge, cheap, centrally located apartment that normally trades on stag and hen parties. And then she got everybody to the airport in plenty of time, with some notion of how to get across the city from the airport, and after that we basically just turned up and improvised.

In almost all respects that worked better than the sorts of holidays I'm used to with detailed itinerary planning, and long complicated negotiations about sharing space with people who aren't normally housemates. We didn't have the slightest ambition to see "everything", we just wanted to have a good time together in a new city, and that was incredibly successful. I mean, it's easy to say that it was low effort considering that my gf put in most of the effort and I just tagged along, but I wouldn't have contemplated organizing a trip of that size and complexity, I would have just assumed it was beyond me, but partly because planning I'd have considered essential is actually entirely disposable.

[ profile] ghoti was also much better at writing up the trip than I am, she did so promptly and concisely; my version is likely to be rambly and boring. tourist report )

So basically, [ profile] ghoti was an amazing genius at organizing a holiday that was fun and exciting and full of interesting new experiences without being exhausting. And at taking into account the wishes of such a large and mixed group and making sure that everybody had the best possible time.

Budapest is shadowed by genocide )
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
Because these are always fun, and because my quad keeps getting confused about the names of meals...

poll about eating habits and language )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Via [personal profile] sovay, an interesting if slightly odd article by one Amy Schwartz on Dorothy L Sayers' anti-semitism. I always knew Sayers was weird about Jews; I find it hard to articulate why I read her stuff anyway whereas I generally avoid other known anti-semitic writers like Chesterton. I did not know either that Sayers once had a Jewish boyfriend, or that she thought it appropriate to publish an article, in 1945, arguing that the reason people are so horrible to Jews is because we had rejected Jesus. I don't know anything about Schwartz, and I'm not sure I share her sympathy or justifications for her subject's prejudices, but it's an interesting piece anyway.

Currently reading: A wild sheep chase by Haruki Murakami. I didn't really get any holiday reading done, because it turned out that partners' children were very very excited about getting access to Liv for a whole week, so they didn't really want me to be spending even a few minutes reading rather than paying attention to them <3

Up next: Will probably still follow up on your recs for Hungary-related books, though so far the only one I've managed to get hold of is A time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor (thanks, [personal profile] rushthatspeaks.)

Also, [personal profile] alexseanchai made a love meme. I normally shy away from such things, but right now, I felt like hearing some nice things would be really good for me. And maybe some other people would also enjoy such a thing?


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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