Awakenings

Mar. 27th, 2017 09:25 pm
raven: (misc - inside the box)
[personal profile] raven
I am rereading Awakenings, the Oliver Sacks book about encephalitis lethargica and L-DOPA. I first came across the story as a teenager and predictably found it completely fascinating. But I bounced off the book a bit the first time, probably because I was too young for it and also it has a lot of quite boring prefaces. But this time I found it entirely compelling, prefaces and all, and have been talking about it quite a bit, so here we are.

The story in brief, for those who don't know it (and also to give me an excuse to tell it again): after the First World War, there was a worldwide outbreak of Spanish flu, which killed more people than the war did, but has mostly been forgotten. And following that - and yet more forgotten - was an epidemic of an illness later called encephalitis lethargica, also called sleepy-sickness. It was prevalent between about 1918 and 1928, and has never really been seen since (beyond isolated cases). People who got it tended to fall asleep - for weeks or months. And then, when they woke up, they were changed in some deep, indefinable way: neither asleep nor awake, but something in between. They sat motionless in chairs and stared into space. They could be "posed", their arms outstretched, like living statues. They couldn't be woken, and some of them didn't appear even to age - so forty years later some had been frozen in place for decades, still looking largely as they had in the late 1920s when initially struck down by the disease.

In 1969, the neurologist Oliver Sacks - who was one of the few clinicians with responsibility for a large number of post-encephalitic patients, about forty of them, in a hospital in New York - hit upon the idea of giving them L-DOPA, which at the time was a brand-new drug. (It's a chemical precursor to dopamine that can pass through the blood-brain barrier.) So without a great deal of knowledge of what would happen, but that something would, he started giving L-DOPA to these patients who had been out of the world for four decades.

And they woke up. This is the amazing part of the story, and Sacks writes about it like a dream: this glorious New York summer, in which these people not only woke up, and spoke, and moved, but became the people they had been. Sacks mentions one patient who had been a flapper, and the nurses going to the NYPL to look up the people and places she spoke about. He mentions another who had been a young Jewish emigrée from Vienna in the 1920s, and startled the staff because they had never known it until she spoke with an Austrian accent, and asked for a rabbi. It's just incredible to read about. And heartbreaking too, because L-DOPA turns out not to be quite the miracle that it promises. There's a honeymoon period, where Sacks and his colleagues are convinced it's just teething problems and they'll figure it out - and then the realisation that they can't stop the effect of the drug wearing off with time, or giving the patients side-effects that are too much to bear. So while some of the patients stay "awakened", others slip back into their pre-L-DOPA state, or into a coma this time. It's tragic and has an awful inevitable feel but it doesn't take on the feel of a Greek tragedy - you never lose sight of these people as real, individual human beings, not archetypes or fairy tales. I am not always convinced by Sacks' theoretical approaches, which draw a lot more from straight philosophy than I'm accustomed to seeing in a book that also purports to examine the scientific method. And it's also a book of its time and place, and a medicalised book - it doesn't always shine in a good light when considered through the lens of disability activism and theory - but Sacks is always interesting, always humane, and always interested in individuals and their stories.

The coda to this is that I hadn't really gathered, the first time I read this book, that Sacks was queer (although I was reminded of his lifelong friendship with WH Auden, which is the kind of historical congruence I love). And then [personal profile] happydork linked me to this beautiful article: My Life With Oliver Sacks, by Bill Hayes, who was Sacks' partner at the time of his death. It's one of the loveliest things I've read in ages - a snapshot of queer work, a queer life, as well as a love letter and obituary. I adore it. i've been rereading a lot of formative things just recently - all the best-beloveds of teenage crazies, so The Bell Jar and Prozac Nation - but also Slaughterhouse Five, Gender Outlaws, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, and Wild Dreams of a New Beginning. (The last of which because I read a poem: Lawrence Ferlinghetti Is Still Alive.)

I feel like there ought to be some sort of conclusion to this thought, something about my foundering mental health, but actually I think it's just, there are always books, and that precious kinship of inquiring queers.

malon

Mar. 27th, 2017 11:00 pm
[syndicated profile] balashon_feed

Posted by Balashon Hebrew Language Detective

In the post about achsania, I mentioned the word for hotel - malon מלון. I didn't discuss the etymology there, so let's take a look now.

Malon is a biblical word, originally meaning "lodging place" or more specifically "inn." It derives from the root לון, meaning "to lodge, pass the night." Klein points out that the formation of malon is similar to makom מקום - "place", which derives from the root קום - "to stand".

Klein also mentions that the ultimate origin of לון is probably denominated from layl ליל - "night". (The more common form today, layla -  לילה is an extended form of layl.)

There is also an unrelated homonymic root, לון - "to murmur." This is the root of the noun teluna תלונה - "complaint" and the verb התלונן - "he grumbled, complained." Klein writes that it might be cognate with the Arabic lama - "he blamed."

One interesting misunderstanding involving the root לון is related to the upcoming Pesach holiday. There is a requirement, as discussed here, that:

Water to be used in matzah baking must be left to stand overnight (to ensure that it is allowed to cool). This water is then referred to as mayim shelanu (water which has “slept”).

Cool water in matza making is important so as not to hasten the leavening process. The Talmud (Pesachim 42a) after discussing this law, tells the following story:

Rav Mattana taught this halakha in Paphunya. On the next day, the eve of Passover, everyone brought their jugs to him and said to him: Give us water. They misunderstood his expression mayim shelanu, water that rested, as the near homonym mayim shelanu, our water, i.e., water that belongs to the Sage, and they therefore came to take water from his house. He said to them: I say and meant: Water that rested [devitu] in the house overnight.


While the gemara presents this as a curious, and perhaps humorous, anecdote, there are still groups today (as far as I know Hassidic, but maybe there are others) who make sure to use water that they collected themselves for their matza baking. A strange custom perhaps, but it seems that this is the holiday of interesting customs. In fact I know many people whose primary custom is to go to a malon...

"Logan," 2017 [spoilers]

Mar. 27th, 2017 08:48 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
1. I went by myself to see Logan Friday night, the last Wolverine movie starring Hugh Jackman. As is sometimes my wont, I sat in the last row of the front section and stared up: very immersive!

2. As many reviews have stated, Logan is much more a Western than a superhero movie. To make the connection explicit, at one point Professor X and Laura are watching Shane. In among all the violence, there are some sawed-off shotguns, and doomed homesteader-equivalents versus Big Agriculture, and orphaned children. Also, the movie is very male: one female mutant child (Laura/X-23) who says a lot less than the adults, and one female adult who is killed before she can attain her goal, in a way that motivates Logan.

3. I had thought I would find it more depressing than I did, probably because to me it felt like one of a thousand post-apocalyptic alternate futures I've already experienced in comics and fanfcition, except in this one, they were allowed to say Fuck every now and again. I think of comics like mythology. If you look at ancient Greek mythology, you get lots of different versions of a basic story depending on the geographic and temporal location the story is heard.

4. Bonus points for perfect credits usage of Johnny Cash singing "The Man Comes Around."

5. Patrick Stewart is such a terrific actor; his part is secondary, but he owns every scrap of it. Aspects of his performance here reminded me of his John of Gaunt in "Richard II."
turlough: Gerard & Mikey Way, July 2014 ((mcr) ways)
[personal profile] turlough
When Gerard came out of sleep, Mikey was already awake. He was standing next to the nav console, extending and flexing his arm, and when Gerard focused on it, he could see more of the arm was different now, its motion less smooth, less even. "The change progressed," he said.

"It is progressing," Mikey answered.

Mikey had rebuilt Gerard before, when Gerard broke down, and Gerard had done the same for Mikey, but he didn't know what to do now.

"Should I test the extent of it?"

"Okay," Mikey said.

So Gerard slid out his scanner and ran it along Mikey's arm, up to the curve of his neck and down along the back of his shoulderblade. He recorded the temperature and density and all the other data he could register, and then used them to plot the location where the metal and oil and plastoderm gave way to the unfamiliar.


- [archiveofourown.org profile] frausorge's through broad streets and narrow
aldersprig: (AylaSmile)
[personal profile] aldersprig
Chapter 7: Abednego
by Lyn Thorne-Alder


He should have stocked his room’s tiny kitchenette.

One of the Fifth Cohort — Wylie or Wayne or something like that – had warned Abednego. “Look, best thing I can tell you is, stock that fridge and keep it full, keep the cupboards full. Sometimes you’re just not going to want to go out to the dining hall.”

read on…

it's a building

Mar. 27th, 2017 03:47 pm
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
When I hear someone say, "The White House says..." I don't buy it. Not because someone who is temporarily in that structure might or might not say whatever it is, but because what they're saying should not always have the psychological weight -- the assumed gravitas -- it acquires from being said from within that place.

What is that place? A building, constructed by slave labor from wood and stone and glass, built to be impressive but also built to be a public official's private home. It has had laundry hung indoors from lines stretched across meeting rooms when the weather was wet and the sheets *had* to get dry. (The weather can be wet in that particular part of downtown in summer more often than elsewhere; it has to do with land contours, prevailing winds, and the affinity of humidity for places near major waterways -- the Potomac, the Tidal Basin, even all those reflecting pools. Thunderstorms that turn the sky purple-black can come up out of nowhere sometimes, and afterward it's still as humid as before.)

It's been rebuilt and reworked every few years, sometimes by necessity; Harry Truman's beloved piano was heavy enough that it nearly fell through the floor of the room it was in (damp rot, anyone?) Also, it was rebuilt from the original pale yellow structure after the War of 1812, of which it was a casualty. There is a swimming pool, and a bowling alley, a cafeteria and a catering center. There are guest rooms and historical rooms where previous occupants said or did things. There are public and private areas in a building that is, at least in a titular way, public.

It is just a building. Those who say things, all of them, any of the things, could be out on the lawn instead of in the Oval Office with the blue rug and the changeable eagle (yes, characters on "The West Wing", I do check to see which way it's facing). They could be outdoors under the cover of the portico. They could be in the so-called War Room or the hyperconnected command center downstairs. They could be in the bunker underneath the house itself -- what a message that would make!

The White House does not say anything. Neither does its West Wing, regardless of the TV series. Neither does the Senate wing of the Capitol, or the House wing. Neither do the Senate or House office buildings, whose longer formal names I forget.

The only people who let buildings do their talking, or try to, are ones who don't have the nerve to take credit for their own words. It's a political maneuver, to give them deniability. It's also dishonest.

The White House doesn't say a damn thing. Remember that, the next time some bloviating newscaster alleges that it does. If it did, it might say something entirely different from what the current occupants and the officials and anyone else might expect. But that would not make the news, would it?

Action: online privacy

Mar. 27th, 2017 03:53 pm
redbird: women's lib: raised fist inside symbol for woman (activism)
[personal profile] redbird posting in [community profile] thisfinecrew
The ACLU just emailed me asking me to call my Congressmember and ask them to protect online privacy by voting against "SJ 34." I just spoke to Representative Clark's office, and her staffer told me that it had passed the senate (which I knew) and that the house bill is resolution 86.

The house is scheduled to vote on this tomorrow, Tuesday March 28, so if you're going to call or fax, there's not a lot of time.

Here's a script, from the ACLU except that I've put in the House resolution number:

I’m calling to demand Congress protect my online privacy and keep FCC broadband rules intact. Do not pass House Resolution 86. I do not want internet service providers to sell my data without getting my permission.

Time To Rent Him A New One

Mar. 27th, 2017 07:00 pm
[syndicated profile] notalwaysright_feed

Posted by Not Always Right

Apartment Complex | Washington, DC, USA

(I own a couple of rental properties in DC. One of them is available for rent and I set up showings for it. Valuing my time, I often set up several appointments around the same time, if possible, so that I don’t have to make numerous trips to the property to show it to just one person. On this (weekend) day, I have scheduled 8 back-to-back showings, and my last appointment of the day is late, without calling/texting/emailing to say he’s running behind. After waiting 30 minutes past his appointment time, I go to leave. Walking out of the building and finding a young man sitting on the front stairs, surfing the Internet on his phone.)

Me: “Hi! Do you live in the building? I don’t think we’ve met yet.”

Young Man: “No, I’m waiting for this b**** of a landlord to come out and meet me. I’ve been sitting here for five minutes!”

Me: “Oh, well, only a couple of the units are rentals, and I have most everyone’s phone number. Maybe she’s not picking up your call because she got distracted. If you tell me who it is, I’ll try her, or can go in and knock on the door.”

Young Man: “I didn’t CALL her; she should know I’m waiting for her! She should have been sitting out here to greet me! She must not want to rent her property that badly!”

Me: “Well, it’s a little cool and it’s been raining off and on today, so she’s probably inside waiting. Maybe you should try calling her, or tell me who she is and I’ll call her.”

Young Man: “Ugh, fine, it’s [My Name] in [my unit number]. Tell her to get down here fast or I’m leaving.”

Me: “Well, hello, [Young Man], I’m [My Name], owner of [My Unit]. I’ve been sitting upstairs waiting for the last half hour for you to call, text, or email me that you’re here for your appointment, as I instructed you to do when you got to the front door. Seeing as you admitted you’ve been waiting for only five minutes, it’s lucky I caught you before I left. Would you still like to see the unit?”

Young Man: “I suppose, but you should have come down and checked to see if I was here. My phone could have died or something.”

Me: “I did, twice. Since you only showed up five minutes ago, you weren’t here when I did check. Right this way to the unit.”

(I show him in and he makes a big show of sniffing every time he walks into a room or looks at an appliance/fixture. After looking around for about ten minutes, he comes back into the living room where I’m waiting to “talk business.”)

Young Man: “Well, I guess this will do as a temporary space. It’s extremely run down and I figure everything will break in six months from what I’ve seen. Because of that, I want to negotiate the rent, starting at [$400/month less than my asking price] and get the utilities included due to the inefficient appliances. I also won’t sign a lease longer than six months.”

Me: “I’m sorry you feel that way. All of the appliances in this unit are energy star and less than five years old, and the basics like the furnace, air conditioner, and water heater are all less than ten years old and were fully serviced in the last six months and given a clean bill of health, with a few minor repairs which I gladly paid to have completed. If you had bothered to ask before assuming, I would have told you that. Since you feel my terms are unreasonable, I guess this isn’t the apartment for you. Thank you for your time looking at it. I’ll show you out.”

Young Man: “WAIT! Don’t you want to rent this place? No one would pay what you want for this s***! I’m the only chance you have of getting a tenant. You should negotiate with me so that you don’t lose money!”

(I take the five completed applications from the other prospects who have viewed the apartment that day, with application fee checks clipped to them, out of my bag and plop them on the table.)

Me: “I don’t need to negotiate with you. I have five people who have applied for this apartment TODAY, plus nearly the same number from yesterday. For the record, I’ve been renting this place to a friend, at the same rent I’m asking now, for the last three years and he’s ONLY moving out because he’s finally buying his own place… He LOVES this apartment. I don’t know where you came from, but this is what you get for the rent I’m asking here, and, honestly, you usually get a little less because I take good care of this place, including being fully, legally licensed to rent.” *gestures to the rental license mounted on the wall* “Most rentals at this price point are illegal death traps. So, again, I’m sorry that you feel I’m trying to rip you off, but I’ll show you out now and I wish you good luck in your home search.”

Young Man: “Oh, crap… Um… sorry. I thought I could play hardball and get a better deal. Will you still take my application? I mean, I still think utilities should be included, but I can pay the rent you want – or, at least close to it. Please?”

Me: “You showed up almost a half hour late to your appointment, complained because you didn’t follow my instructions to get in while giving me a sorry excuse for why you ‘might’ not have been able to do so, and then insulted me and my property. I really don’t think this will work out. Sorry, but let me show you out.”

(He started screaming to the point that the downstairs neighbors — two big dudes I am friends with because I also live in the neighborhood and see them around — came running upstairs to see what is wrong. I gratefully threw the door open when they started pounding on it and saying “this is Neighbors #1 and #2; is everything okay?”. I told them what was going on, and they physically tossed the dude out of the building. Unfortunate as it was, I now make sure that someone else is with me while conducting tours/open houses at my properties, and only give ten minutes grace for late appointments unless they contact me to tell me they’ll be later than that.)

The post Time To Rent Him A New One appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.

Grilling You About The Cheese

Mar. 27th, 2017 07:00 pm
[syndicated profile] notalwaysright_feed

Posted by Not Always Right

Restaurant | USA

(I work as a cashier at a restaurant with good quality food for moderate prices. We have a meal deal where you pick two entree items in half portions, but you pay less than regular half or full-pricing for each item. Every price for every item is up on the huge menu board directly in front of the customer, so you can figure out exactly how much you’re going to be spending. It’s a little past the peak of lunchtime rush, and a woman with two kids comes in and places her order; getting two meal deals and one regular. I read her entire order back to her to make sure I got it correct. She confirms that it is.)

Me: “Okay, your total is $31.25.”

Customer: *sharply* “Excuse me?”

Me: *trying to keep a cheerful tone* “Your total for the order is $31.25.”

Customer: “That is absolutely ridiculous. I have to pay 31 dollars for this? That’s expensive!”

Me: “I know, ma’am, and I’m sorry. But, since you got two meal deals, it is cheaper than it would’ve been if you’d gotten the regular full portions. Would you like to change anything in your order before I ring it up, see if it makes it a little cheaper?”

Customer: *sighing heavily* “No, it’s… ugh, it’s fine. Just swipe my card. Ugh, this is ridiculous.”

(I swipe the customer’s card and give her a copy of her receipt to keep and another to sign off on. She blinks down at her receipt, up at the menu board, and then scowls at me.)

Customer: “Wait, those two grilled cheeses are $4.19 each.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, those are the ones you confirmed for your order before you paid.”

Customer: *sighing* “Okay, well, I wanted the cheaper ones. The $3.59 ones. Change them.”

Me: “Okay, ma’am, I’m sorry about that. I’ll get a manager over and we can refund the $1.20 difference to your card.”

Customer: “Excuse me?! I only get a dollar and twenty cents back?”

Me: “Yes ma’am, there’s a 60 cent difference between [Grilled Cheese #1] and [Grilled Cheese #2]. You have two [Grilled Cheese #1]s on your order that you’d like to switch, so you’d be getting a dollar and twenty cents refunded to your credit card.”

Customer: “Are you kidding me? What’s the point of changing it if I only get a dollar and twenty cents back?! My order will still be 30 dollars! It’s almost not even worth getting the money back.”

Me: “I’m so sorry, ma’am, but the price difference is $1.20, so $1.20 is what you’ll be refunded.”

(Why this customer got so offended over a refund that anyone who can do basic math would be able to calculate is beyond me, but regardless, she got her $1.20 refunded, and complained about it the whole time.)

The post Grilling You About The Cheese appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.

Again, really?

Mar. 27th, 2017 08:39 pm
badfalcon: (Default)
[personal profile] badfalcon
So my knees have been playing up for three or four weeks now - the wrong sort of pain in the wrong sort of place and the painkillers haven't been helping. They've been unhappy, not taking my weight, swollen... generally just not kneeing properly, even for my knees.

This afternoon, since I had the day off work, I took them to the doctor. I wasn't able to see my own GP which made me nervous for a few round of 'another doctor, another diagnosis' and I was geared up for a fight if new doctor mentioned my weight.

But I saw this lovely young doctor who took the time to read my history. All 20+ years worth of screwed up knees. She did a full - albeit very painful - physical exam. Commented that my knee was like 3 times the size it should be... I didn't have the heart to tell her it wasn't the worst it had been. Ht the ceiling a few times when she found a particularly sore spot.

I have torn the MCL. Again.
My patella is out of alignment with my femur. Again/still.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

She thinks I have patellofemoral syndrome - well that's a new one. Shall I add it to the collection.

I've been referred for physio.
I'm being sent for an MRI (current waiting list is hahahaha so I'm not holding my breath)
I'm on 500mg naproxen twice a day and 30/500mg every 4 hour for a minimum of two weeks. I've also got to keep off the knee as much as I can. She's really quite worried about the swelling. If in two weeks there's no improvement, it gets worse or xyz happens, I have to go back. I'll probably get referred to Ortho (Can has Charlie Harris)

So yeah, that's the current state of the llama. Slightly stoned on pain medication and barely able to move her bad leg. Fun times y'all!

shouting back

Mar. 27th, 2017 08:10 pm
lamentables: (Default)
[personal profile] lamentables
It started with endless series of exams in the hall at school. Rows of hard chairs and desks of awkward height. Me, stressed about doing exams because that's how I was taught to be, despite having a substantial talent for exams. Me, hunched over for two hours at a time writing furiously. As the exams went on I'd get a sore back, mostly between my shoulder blades. After school there were exams at university, professional exams, another degree. And somewhere in there the 'exam back' expanded its performance so that, with heavy irony, as the exams finished and my stress lifted my whole back went into spasm. It was always very painful, but never lasted more than a week.

The exams are long since over, but exam back lingers, waiting for me to relinquish any long-carried stress. When I withdrew from the PhD (three years ago now) I enjoyed a week of euphoria followed by a week of being barely able to walk. This time it seems to be the act of asking for help and going for coaching to help with the demands of my charity work. After the first session there was the day when I was so drained I was fit for nothing. After the second session I had another day like that, then blam! exam back strikes again. I was in pain Friday, in pain that I was able to overcome on Saturday, and in tears of pain all day yesterday. Last night I ran past my back the idea of giving myself the week off. The idea was approved and this morning I cancelled the whole week - everything except the coaching - and succeeded in washing away the pain in the shower. I was well enough to go to yoga where the session our teacher had planned was accidentally perfect of easing my back.

Since then I've been watching the new season of Grace and Frankie and doing a little pottering around the house to keep everything moving. I am optimistic about sleeping tonight, unlike Saturday night, which was a disaster.

Back massages from abrinsky helped, but he's in Cardiff right now (having spent today in Birmingham) and still has to deliver his roadshow in Cardiff and Bristol before he makes it back home again. Orwell is snuggling me to make sure I don't feel too alone.

On Saturday, when I thought it was just a mild bout of exam back, we went to Northampton in the morning. I spent an embarrassingly large amount at the wholefood warehouse, and then we walked through town to get a delicious pub lunch.

Nugsone #oftheday

On the way back home we stopped at my favourite cookshop, and I found it does sometimes pay to be nice, when the staff pointed out I could buy last year's model of the kettle I wanted at a discount of £20.

Daffs #oftheday #earlymorninglight

There was a period of a couple of hours on Sunday morning, between being in too much pain to sleep and too much pain to sit/lie/stand, when my back was absolutely fine, so we went for a therapeutic walk. It was only 8am BST, so 7am GMT, and the light was a wonderful payoff for the terrible night. The lambs were very cute again too.

GOP D&D

Mar. 27th, 2017 01:52 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
New game.  Do not read with mouth full.

Okay, everyone, roll for initiative ...

Mira reading at Dreamhaven

Mar. 27th, 2017 11:31 am
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
One of the fans at my Dreamhaven reading back on March 15th made this rather good-quality recording of it, now up on YouTube to share around...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkd5O...

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on March, 27

Reading: A Sudden Wild Magic

Mar. 27th, 2017 07:01 pm
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
It's taken me several years to track down a copy of A Sudden Wild Magic, one of only two novels for adults written by Diana Wynne Jones (the other, Deep Secret, appears to have been repackaged as Young Adult to go with The Merlin Conspiracy, which is set in the same universe and features at least one recurring character, but is clearly aimed at a younger audience). Given how hard it was to get, and how little it seemed to be rated by reviewers on Amazon and Goodreads, I was a bit worried that it was actually going to turn out to be dreadful, particularly as the blurb on the back said "It is up to the Ring, a secret society of witches and warlocks dedicated to the continuance and well-being of mankind, to fight the virtuous, unbendingly traditional stronghold of Arth with an arsenal of psychological sabotage, internal dissension -- and kamikaze sex..." and I wasn't at all sure I wanted to read about kamikaze sex. (Spoiler: there is not actually any kamikaze sex in the book, although there are enough references to non-kamikaze sex that I can't see this being repackaged as YA any time soon. Someone makes a throwaway comment about it at one point, and the blurbers clearly felt that it would sell more copies. If you did want to read about kamikaze sex, this is not the book to do it in.)

Essentially, this is classic DWJ, full of witches and wizards, overlapping plots and interlinked multiple universes. Several of the plot threads reminded me of her other books, particularly Fire and Hemlock, but the familiar elements were combined in a different enough order that I didn't feel that was a problem. The main difference between it and the rest of her books is that while some of the central characters are young adults in their late teens/early 20s, most of them are older adults (including one wonderful witch of a certain age who reminded me a lot of Granny Weatherwax). I thought it was great fun, if a bit silly, with engaging characters, and while I don't think it's her best book I rather liked reading a DWJ about adults for once.
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
[personal profile] tamaranth
2017/25: The Elegance of the Hedgehog -- Muriel Barbery
... pity the poor in spirit who know neither the enchantment nor the beauty of language.


Mme Renée Michel is the concierge of a Parisian apartment building, a fifty-four-year-old widow with bunions and bad breath. As far as the residents know, she is a typical concierge, watching television and reading tabloids, alone except for her cat Leo. In secret, though, she is passionate about philosophy, art and language (a misplaced comma in a note from one resident drives her to distraction), and she observes her employers with a clear and critical eye.
non-spoilery )

wonderful losers

Mar. 27th, 2017 01:59 pm
the_siobhan: (on fire)
[personal profile] the_siobhan
Work has been bonkers. A new department that we've taken over who have never had a workforce team before, so not only are we taking over all their tracking and reporting we are walking them through a massive cultural shift. A brand new software piece that is shall we say, a little buggy at implementation. And half my co-workers out of the office for training for six weeks.

All of these things are happening at the same time.

We still have tons of stuff to do at home, but I'm so wiped when I get there that half the time I end up just sitting and staring at the open box while little invisible birds twitter around my ears. Like I can't even comprehend what I'm looking at, never mind figure out what to do with it.

But starting Friday I'm on vacation for a week, in training for two days and then off for another week. I am literally counting down the hours.
[syndicated profile] notalwaysright_feed

Posted by Not Always Right

Restaurant | Stockholm, Sweden

(The restaurant I work in is a kind of upscale fast food one where we clear the tables ourselves. We also have a form of questions that we ask some guests to fill out on a tablet and as a thank you we treat them some coffee or tea. I approach two elderly women.)

Me: “Hi, was everything to your satisfaction?”

Them: “Hmm, yes, I guess.” *not looking at me*

Me: “Great! I was wondering if maybe you would like to answer a few questions about your experience with us? It will only take about a minute or two. And as a thank you–”

Elderly Woman #1: “No! I don’t want to do any of that! I don’t have time for s*** like that!”

Me: “Okay, thank you anyway; have a nice day.”

Elderly Woman #2: *as I’m leaving* “How rude! How dare she disturb us!”

(I approach a young pair, two tables down, and they’re more than happy to help me. As I’m explaining the tablet for them I see my coworker walking up to the women and clearing their table. Later while I’m preparing the couples’ coffee my coworker comes up to me.)

Coworker: “God, those ladies were so rude! They tried to get me to give them complimentary coffee on their meal and I told them the coffee wasn’t included, and they started cussing at me and calling me a b****.”

Me: “Yeah, I had a similar experience. Wanna help me bring these coffees over?”

Coworker: “Sure!”

(We walked over with the coffees and — very loudly — thanked the couple for their help and handed them their coffees right in front of the women, who looked very miffed about the entire thing. My coworker and I had a good laugh about it in the kitchen after.)

The post Survey Results Are In: You’re A B**** appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.

Coming To The Land Of Twenty

Mar. 27th, 2017 05:00 pm
[syndicated profile] notalwaysright_feed

Posted by Not Always Right

Department Store | Department Store

(I am working my first real shift at my new store. The coworker who is training me is pulled away to deal with another problem, leaving me alone for all of two minutes.)

Me: “Okay, your total is $28.67.”

(The customer hands over $20. I wait a couple seconds to see if she just needs time to find the $8.67 left. She just looks at me.)

Me: “$28.67, please.”

(Customer points at the bills in my hand.)

Me: “Yes, this comes to $20.”

Customer: “Yes. $20.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am… it is. Your total is $28.67.”

Customer: “Yes. $28. Is $20.”

Me: “…”

Customer: “Is short. Eight short.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, it is.”

(My manager comes around and asks what the problem is. I explain. She turns to the customer.)

Manager: “Ma’am, you’re $8.67 short. Unless you have another method of payment, I’m afraid we’ll have to take something off.”

Customer: “Oh. No want, then. Goodbye.”

(She picked up her purse and walked away without another word. The customers in line, my manager, and I all looked at each other before continuing on as usual.)

The post Coming To The Land Of Twenty appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.

(no subject)

Mar. 27th, 2017 12:15 pm
telophase: (Near - que?)
[personal profile] telophase
Does anyone know what search terms I can use to find the sort of outdoor rug/mat that I can just hose off when it's dirty, and can be left outside in sun, rain, and whatnot? "Outdoor rug" keeps getting me indoor/outdoor nicely woven rugs that I'd hesitate to hose down, when what I want is, I think, some sort of large plastic-ish mat that looks vaguely like a rug. The main purpose being mostly to protect the feet from deck splinters.

Context: after six years in this house we've finally splurged on patio furniture and therefore might actually start going outside occasionally. Naturally we've done so at the time of year when patio furniture is the most expensive.

Where Have You Been?

Mar. 27th, 2017 10:04 am
borlandia: (jason)
[personal profile] borlandia
Man, it's been busy. Between work picking up, moving, and other junk that seems to get in the way...barely have time to think.

We unpacked most of our stuff yesterday. We definitely have a serious space issue merging two houses into one, but I think with some light purging and some furniture purchases, we'll make it happen.

I got ultra-bothered yesterday. Girl's mom came over to "help" us unpack...without even asking she's opening all my boxes and making open commentary about my stuff. This felt...really inappropriate. I'm a pretty private guy, too, so having someone I have little to no history with just rifling through all my possessions was really, really unsettling.

What I love...the new place is so QUIET. I was scared of going back to a rental property with the noise...but this place is perfect. Everything shuts down at like 9 PM and we don't hear a peep after that.

We had dinner...I popped a couple muscle relaxers and had some wine and got over it.

I bought my boss's boss a birthday present. He flipped his lid and loved it...I'm going to be labeled a massive kiss-ass...which I am.

Portland later this week. Gonna have to resist the urge to get too drunk in front of my boss.
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
Finnish Weird an online journal of fiction and commentary by Finnish authors. ETA: the link has the English translation, so you need not brush up on language skills before reading.
[syndicated profile] henryjenkins_feed

Posted by Henry Jenkins

The following is a hold the date announcement for the next Transforming Hollywood conference. Some speakers are still being confirmed as we post this. I will add their details as they get resolved.

 Transforming Hollywood 8: “The Work of Art in the Age of Algorithmic Culture,” UCLA May 5, 2017.

Co-directors, Denise Mann, UCLA and Henry Jenkins, USC 

Overview: Transforming Hollywood 8: “The Work of Art in the Age of Algorithmic Culture,” reframes Walter Benjamin’s oft-quoted essay about technology’s double-edged sword: mechanical reproduction fundamentally alters the original artwork’s unique auratic properties but makes it accessible to the masses. According to Ted Striphas, “…the growing prevalence of recommendation features such as those you find on Amazon.com [signals the] displacement of human judgment into algorithmic form [which] raises all sorts of questions about taste aggregation — questions with which scholars in the humanities …have only begun to grapple.” Streaming on-demand services grant consumers greater choice and democratic access to media content (letting us choose what to watch and when to watch it); however, the terms of this exchange is unfettered access to our consumer impulses via sophisticated surveillance tactics that track our online activities 24-7.

 

Ted Hope, the newly appointed head of Amazon Studios’ film division, lays out the implicit pact we’ve forged with the major tech platforms: “Amazon Studios’ flood of investment in the movie business is designed to revive a market for independent films….” However, at the same time, he observes wryly: “At Amazon, to quote Jeff Bezos, we make movies to sell shoes. The movies are essentially advertising for the (e-commerce) platform.” Welcome to the future of art (as advertising) in the age of algorithmic culture.

 

While Netflix has received the lions’ share of press and notoriety for disrupting traditional Hollywood given its $6 billion investment in original content and its global expansion to 190 territories, the “big four” tech platforms—Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon (GAFA)—have infinitely more capital (and data) to spare when it comes to the risky business of growing a media and entertainment industry. Each has its own core business to fall back on: Google has search and advertising; Apple has its hardware-software business; Facebook has social and advertising; and Amazon has its ecommerce business. Media, it turns out, is the ideal lure to keep users inside of their powerful digital ecosystems as long as consumers accept datavaillance as the price of admission.

 

As Hollywood and Silicon Valley battle for supremacy, the current crisis in media stems from an unmanageable sea of online content made available by competing subscription-based (SVOD) and advertising-supported (AVOD) streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube Red, Vimeo, Seeso, Crackle, CBS Everywhere, HBO Go, CW Seed, Verizon Go90, and so forth. The streaming music services, such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and Tidal, have also joined the original content derby, with Apple’s repurposing of James Cordon’s Carpool Karaoke and Tidal’s exclusive streaming of Beyonce’s Lemonade being prime examples. Compounding the surplus of data-driven content churn are the millennial-facing online news formats, such as Vice, Buzzfeed, and Mic; each is disrupting legacy news organizations, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, once revered for their veteran editors who curate the news and seasoned reporters who research all sides of complex issues. The backlash that followed the recent election cycle prompted Wired to report: “There’s a very dark mood in Silicon Valley right now…. Google and Facebook also seem to be feeling a need to grapple with the role they have played. Both have undertaken highly visible initiatives to curb fake news….” While the platforms were able to scale rapidly by giving unfettered access to all forms of third-party-generated content, in their new role as original content producers, the tech founders are starting to reflect on their social responsibility to curate culture.

This year’s conference examines the legacy of Netflix and YouTube as influencers, creator-entrepreneurs, and engineers all contribute to the seemingly endless flood of scripted series and short-form, snackable content that vies for our attention. One question looms large—will flesh and blood experts or data-driven algorithms ultimately control the production, delivery, and reception of our shared cultural knowledge going forward? Welcome to the age of algorithmic culture.

 

THE PANELS:

9:00-9:15AM: Introduction: The Work of Art in the Age of Algorithmic Culture.

Welcome by Transforming Hollywood by co-directors Denise Mann (UCLA) and Henry Jenkins (USC).

 

9:15-10:20 AM: Keynote Presentation by Ted Striphas, “Algorithmic Culture.”

 

10:20-10:30: Break
10:30-12:00: Panel One: Playing with Snackable Content in Virtual Marketplaces

moderated by Denise Mann, Professor, School of Theater, Film, Television, UCLA.

 

Description: Peak TV’s premium quality TV series may be grabbing headlines, but new, addictive forms of “snackable” content have become one of the preferred ways for brands to access millennials and Gen-Z’ers—digital natives whose facility with multitasking across mobile screens means they prefer images, short videos, and emojis over lengthy (con)textual exchanges. Charles Eckert’s essay, “The Carole Lombard in Macy’s Window,” reminds us that Hollywood was always inextricably linked to consumer culture since the first cameraman pointed his camera at actors standing in front of a shop-window in the 1910s; however, it is important to recognize the massive shift underway as the new “social media logic” associated with the 21st century effaces the “mass media logic” that dominated in the 20th century.

The corporate gatekeepers of the tech economy are engineering innovative user experiences (UX) and user interface (UI) features, such as touch, liveness, and VR/AR, to keep us happily engaged on their platforms for extended periods of time. Hence, we are encouraged to click, like, share, and comment on an arsenal of new, addictive, forms of online entertainment, which include: Pokemon Go, Snapchat filters, Amazon Twitch, Facebook Live, Instagram Shop Now Buttons, and Pinterest Pins. Today’s panelists represent key stakeholders whose in-depth understanding of UX/UI design elements is facilitating new forms of algorithmic culture designed to enhance our sense of play inside 24-7 digital ecosystems.

PANELISTS:
  • Rob Kramer, Founder/CEO, Purpose Labs
  • Ted Striphas, Professor, Colorado University
12:00-12:15PM Break
12:15-1:45 PM Panel Two:  “Fake News and Struggles Over Circulation”

Moderated by Henry Jenkins, Provost Professor, Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism; School of Cinematic Arts, USC.

Description: Sensationalism is scarcely new in the history of American journalism, and the circulation wars of the early 20th century contributed to the rise of “yellow journalism,” as William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Pulitizer and the other media tycoons of the era fought for the eyeballs of an expanding American readership. Today’s “fake news” also has its roots in new struggles over circulation, though in this case, the circulation of news through social networking sites. The role of “fake news” in the past presidential campaign has been hotly contested, with the current administration accusing CNN and the New York Times as publishers of “fake news,” while others point to the role which Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms played in blurring the line between reliable and questionable media sources.

 

Fake news thrives because it is often more emotionally targeted than traditional journalism: because it is designed to shock and outrage its readers, because it often conveys what people living in filter bubbles already believe to be true about the world. Fake news is news which has been manufactured to spread like wildfire without regard to its accuracy or its consequences.

 

What do we know about fake news and the people who produce and consume it? What does it tell us about the place of journalism in the era of algorithmic culture and social media? What efforts are being made by the social media companies to take responsibility over their role in the spread of misinformation? What alternative models for journalism are emerging within the same environment to insure more trusted curatorship over news and information? How are the struggles over what constitutes “fake news” shaping our current political realities?

 

PANELISTS:
  • Mark Andrejevic, Associate Professor of Media Studies, Pomona College
  • Brooke Borel, a science writer and journalist; contributing editor to Popular Science.
  • Hannah Cranston, guest host & producer, The Young Turks; host of FoxTV’s Top30TV; host and EP of ThinktankFeed.
  • Jon Passantino, deputy news director for BuzzFeed News, Los Angeles.
  • Laura Sydell, Correspondent, Arts Desk, NPR.
  • Ramesh Srinivasan, Associate Professor, Department of Information Studies and Design/Media Arts.
1:45-2:45 Lunch
2:45-4:15 PM: Panel Three: “Music Streaming & The Splinternets: The New, Competing, Cultural Curators”

moderated by Gigi Johnson, Founding Director, The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

Description: Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and Google Play Music are the current leaders in the subscription-based and advertising supported music streaming derby—having locked down the majority of artists through massive licensing deals with the major music labels. The current crisis facing the streaming tech giants is the glut of choice available to consumers, who are drowning in an endless supply of things to watch, read, or listen to online. As a result, the streaming giants have enlisted “an elite class of veteran music nerds — fewer than 100 working full-time at either Apple, Google, or Spotify — who are responsible for assembling, naming, and updating nearly every commute, dinner party, or TGIF playlist on your phone,” according to Buzzfeed‘s “Inside the Playlist Factory.”

Apple Music started the trend in 2014 when it acquired Beats’ along with co-heads Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre, and Trent Reznor, as their ultimate marketing weapon to challenge Spotify’s lead. Iovine insists that the tech corporations use the human music experts to guide tech engineers, and not vice versa, stating:“fans can smell the difference between a service where much of the product is dictated by algorithms or charts and one that is guided by more knowledgeable but equally passionate versions of themselves.”

This panel focuses on the growing industry of cultural curators who organize playlists “by reading endless music blogs, tracking artists before they have been discovered, and by maintaining contact with artists’ managers, producers, and label representatives.” Needless to say, the economic driver of this on-demand streaming culture is consumer data analytics targeting advertising brands. Feeling lonely after a particularly bad break up? Try listening to Adele while stuffing your emotions with a quart of Ben & Jerry’s and a diet Pepsi.

 

PANELISTS:
  • Rocío Guerrero Colomo, Head of Content Programming/Curation & Editorial, Latin Global, Head of Latin Culture, Shows & Editorial-Content Programming, Spotify
  • Alex White, Head of Next Big Sound at Pandora
4:15-4:30 Break

 

4:30-6:00: Panel Four: Creating Binge-worthy “Streaming Web TV.”

moderated by Neil Landau, author of TV Outside the Box and The Showrunner’s Roadmap.

 Description: Most credit Netflix with launching the 21st century “web TV” revolution and with it “peak TV” by introducing the phrase “binge-watching” into the lexicon and by fundamentally altering the way we watch and access television online. Everything changed, according to Thomas Schatz, when Netflix “…barged into the high-stakes original series programming derby in 2013 with House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black.” Never have so many buyers prompted so many creators to step up and pitch original concepts. FX conducted a study and determined that in the years 2009 to 2015, the number of scripted series went from 200 to 400+.

In 2016, Netflix produced 600 hours of scripted TV and in 2017 it said it would spend $6 billion on both scripted and acquired series. The good news is the excitement associated with this ramp up of creative opportunity; the bad news is that in the current world of overabundant online content, consumers are swimming in series they’ll never see once, let alone watch in their entirety. As in previous eras, writers, actors, and showrunners with credits under their belt are in high demand and earning large salaries to attach their names to lesser known creators. At the same time, untried writers, actors, and comedians are staking their futures on self-financed webseries productions using personal funding from part-time jobs, crowdsourcing, and by promoting themselves on social media—all in the hopes of catching the lightning in a bottle success associated with Broad City, Insecure, and High Maintenance. Streaming TV is grabbing lots of attention (and subscribers), but the question remains: “Will the current boom cycle continue indefinitely or has ‘peak TV’ peaked?

PANELISTS:
  • Jessie Kahnweiler, creator, The Skinny (Hulu)
  • Zander Lehmann, creator, Casual (Hulu)
  • Dawn Prestwich, co-executive producer, Z: The Beginning of Everything (Amazon)
  • Nicole Yorkin, co-executive producer, Z: The Beginning of Everything (Amazon)

 

6-8PM Reception

You can register here for the event.

Welp

Mar. 28th, 2017 03:07 am
tyger: Axel, Roxas, and Xion, on the clocktower. (Default)
[personal profile] tyger
Assignment is DONE!

Holy crap why 3am whyyyy.

I have to be up in 5 hours otherwise I won't make class. (And I can't skip because first class is a lecture that isn't recorded AND it's a hard subject orz)

I am. I am getting changed and going to bed now. ;;

At least I'm pretty happy with how it turned out...

things that were just on my mind

Mar. 27th, 2017 09:00 am
toastykitten: (Default)
[personal profile] toastykitten


Done last week: (20170319Su - 25Sa)

Mar. 27th, 2017 08:55 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Nasty, uncomfortable things!

As my dedicated readers (all three or four of them) are probably aware, Rainbow's End is being sold. It goes on the market, in fact, in a couple of weeks. (BTW, if you want a superb 6-bedroom house in West Seattle, complete with concert hall, ...) In order to present the place in the best light, we have vacated the top two floors, replaced the carpets, and removed the stair lifts. Colleen and I have been sleeping on our sofabed in the Rainbow Room.

Saturday, we moved. Or, rather, went out to a terrific Japanese restaurant in Port Townsend to celebrate the Younger Daughter's birthday, while our moving crew hauled what turned out to be three truckloads of stuff to the apartment. The plan was for us to drive home; pick up (cat) Ticia, (guinea pig) Clea, and (guitar) Plink; come back to an apartment full of boxes; and get settled in. Um..., not quite. In retrospect, leaving Clea at home was the best decision I made all day.

Because the keys, with the all-important fob that gets one into the building and then the elevator, slipped off a box and went through the crack between the elevator and the floor.

Meanwhile, I was driving home. Attempting to follow slightly confusing directions, on a phone that suddenly did not have a visible display! It was particularly confusing because I had missed a turn, and the phone was trying to direct me to turn around. But I didn't know that, either. I pulled off at an intersection in Kitsap that had a convenience store where I could use a bathroom, and switched to Colleen's phone. Fighting, again, with Google Maps, that wanted to direct me to a route it thought was faster, using a ferry. The last thing I needed was to wait an hour or two if I missed the ferry. Of course, I spent nearly that long in a traffic jam in Tacoma.

The traffic jam in Tacoma was where N called me to give me the bad news about the keys. The backup plan was to get buzzed in using the building manager's door code. Which worked fine until I used it too many times figuring out how to keep the garage door open, and said building manager started sending it to voice mail. (I'd thought that it was automated. Nope.) Leaving me outside in the cold, Colleen and Ticia inside waiting for an elevator, and both our phones, plus the litter box that actually had litter in it (we'd sent an empty one ahead), in the van.

After some kind person finally let me in, we proceeded to the apartment. Which is where we determined that we had no phones, no cat litter, and no way of getting back into the elevator after getting them. After meltdown, panic attack, or whatever it was, I proceeded to knock on doors until I found someone who actually opened the door and said they would buzz me in. I arrived downstairs just about the same time as the police, who were investigating an apparent intruder who was knocking on peoples' doors. This is apparently a standard MO for homeless people in the area.

Fortunately, at this point I was well beyond the panic and able to see the humor in the situation, so I had a pleasant conversation with one cop while another went upstairs to knock on my door to confirm with Colleen that we actually lived there.

It wasn't until I got back to the apartment that I took a good look at the phone and realized that the screen wasn't dying, it had just had its brightness turned all the way down. I also figured out that setting up my phone to let people in couldn't be done without having an account set up on dwelo.com. And we had a nice visit from the young lady who had called 911 to report me.

I've lost track of how many anxiety meltdowns I had; at some point I got over the panic and had a nice bout of acute depression.

We have spent the rest of the weekend in the apartment, finding out what's missing and what we have to send back to Rainbow's End to go into the storage pod after all.

Today has been cozy and domestic, sorting through boxes and figuring out which things we actually have room to keep in our apartment's tiny cabinets. And eating veggie, because while I was able to find two cans of crabmeat, the only can-opener we had was a battery-powered one that Colleen had just purchased. Batteries not included.

Oh, and did I mention the scratches I got as I attempted to corner a terrified Ticia and get her into her carrier? Those too.

Meanwhile, here we are.

Notes & links, as usual )

posted late because my emacs client is flaking out. Probably due to the HTTPS redirection.

[syndicated profile] queer_ya_feed


Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him -- at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.
Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl; she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl.

Add your review of "Our Chemical Hearts" in comments!
[syndicated profile] notalwaysright_feed

Posted by Not Always Right

Pizza | Thomasville, GA, USA

(I am a pizza delivery girl. There is this one nice old lady who orders three times a week. She lives out in the middle of nowhere and her house is always a pain to get to. She always tips the exact same $1.25. This delivery takes place the day before a hurricane came through and it’s not pretty outside. When I get to the house and knock on her door. I do not see her cat like I usually do.)

Customer: “Did you see my cat, dear?”

Me: “No, ma’am. I did not see him today. The weather isn’t great; he’s probably just scared and hiding.”

Customer: “All right. just keep an eye out as you back out of here.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, I will.”

(I watched for the cat. Never saw that cat. It was incredibly busy that day and I was the only driver scheduled as no one else was willing to brave the weather and come in. Every time I walked in the store, I walked out with no less than three deliveries. The next time I walked in my manager told me about the lady calling asking if I stole her cat. I said no I did not see that cat. I went on four more deliveries. I came back about 30 minutes later, the manager telling me she called three more times, demanding he check my car for the cat that she just knew I stole. This crazy lady called seven times in all. The last time she swore she would never order again. After three days my general manager called her to ask if she found her cat. She had. It ran off because of the storm. She offered no apology to me, hung up on my manager, and has never ordered again.  It’s now a running joke anytime my three cats leave paw prints on my car that I must have stolen that cat or if someone doesn’t tip that I will steal their pet. Everyone at work got a kick of this one.)

The post It’s The Anchovy Pizza That Gave It Away appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.

[syndicated profile] notalwaysright_feed

Posted by Not Always Right

Vet | Portland, OR, USA

(A client shows up for an appointment to remove ticks from her dog.)

Coworker: “How many ticks does he have and where are they?

Client: “Six that we’ve counted so far.”

Coworker: “Wow! That’s a lot. Where have you been lately?”

Client: “I know, it’s really weird. They’re on his belly and they’re all symmetrical.”

(The client starts to roll dog over to show us belly. Stunned silence follows.)

Coworker: “Nipple, nipple, nipple, nipple, nipple, nipple!”

Client: “But he’s a boy!”

Coworker: “You have nipples, don’t you, sir?”

Related:

Glad They Nipped That One In The Bud

The post Glad They Nipped That One In The Bud, Part 2 appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.

ewan: Star (Default)
[personal profile] ewan posting in [community profile] rglondon
Welcome back to another week of RGL updates!

Napura, Nunhead, London SE15

This week's featured article is Napura, SE15 3QF, a Portuguese restaurant in officially the best area of London, Nunhead. This is official because I say it is, so I'll brook no disputes. I wager it's changed since I lived there, though this was a Portuguese restaurant back then. Go get yrself a bacalhau. (The historical verdict, which may not have changed much, is that there's less for those non-meat-eaters such as myself.)

But that's fine because our updated article is Shree Krishna Vada Pav, a Mumbai-centric cafe which is totally vegetarian, though you have to travel a bit further from Nunhead, as it's in Harrow. It will, however, satisfy all your carbs-in-carbs needs.

Finally, just reopened is iconic pub The Half Moon in Herne Hill, which has been closed for nigh on four years now, so its reopening (as a Fuller's pub) is welcome.
solarbird: (made her from parts)
[personal profile] solarbird

Build reports are nice enough. (I wrote up a little errata post yesterday, by the by.) But the real question, of course, is how does the RK-47/990B kit mic sound?

Early impressions are surprisingly good. Even with only the single microphone, there’s a sense of presence and space – even with a purely mono signal path – that I normally have to dual-mic to attain. Also, it has tremendous precision – this is a mic capable of great subtlety. And the amount of gain built into the microphone itself is crazy – this is one spicy meatball of a microphone. That’s something you won’t hear in recordings, but it results in a lower noise floor, which is always good.

Let’s start with some unsubtle differences, ones that’ll show up on laptop speakers. Because while I’ve never liked the MXL-990, they sell a zillion of ’em, and we should make a couple of direct comparisons.

Here’s a snippet of chords from “Lukey,” alternating between the MXL-990 (unaltered factory) and the RK-47/990B. It starts with the MXL-990, then transitions in-song to the RK-47, then back and forth. It ends with the RK-47. It’s a pure mono signal path until prepped for uploading to Soundcloud.

And here’s a short melody, on zouk – again, starting on MXL-990 (factory stock), then RK-47, then back to MXL-990. The last phrase is repeated to allow us to end on the RK-47; also, I wanted that ending bit to be presented on both microphones. The glissando really highlights some of the differences.

But that’s shooting fish in a barrel, as it were. The MXL-990, while popular, is not a good microphone. We should do comparisons to microphones I actually like – let’s say, the M-Audio Nova. At about twice the price of the MXL-990, it’s still a cheap microphone, just one I consider entry-level competent. But it has issues – not the least of which being it’s kind of a noisy beast as these categories of microphones go.

So let’s take the easy swing – here’s a sharply boosted noise level comparison of the RK-47 to the M-Audio Nova, at equivalent gain levels. This is not the noise you’d actually hear; I recorded a silent room at gain appropriate on each microphone for instrument recording, then cranked that recording up 32db for easy noise levels comparison.

Unfortunately, this really requires headphones, because it’s RK-47 on left, Nova on right:

NOT SUBTLE. But also, an easy shot. The Nova is noisy and everybody knows it. There are some mods out there to improve that, but they change the sound a bit in ways I don’t like, so I work with it.

comparison of waveformsSo let’s dig down a bit. Pictured here is a snippet of waveform from a bit of music played, in mono, over my studio monitors, into identically positioned microphones relative to those speakers. These two recordings were made simultaneously.

You’ll note in this highly-zoomed-in render how the RK47 waveform remains clear and unmuddled in these extremely rapid changes, while the Nova’s blurs into a bit of a mush. That’s the sort of thing I’m talking about, and also, the sort of thing you can hear in these very short snippets of horns from a jazz track. This comparison requires headphones, possibly good ones:

They’re short because they must be uncompressed for best comparison – sorry about that – but listen to them a few times and compare. Note how the edges of detail – bits which add flavour – are blurred in the Nova, but retained in the RK-47. Neat, eh?

That out of the way, let’s step up a level in comparator microphones. Oktava 012s are considered very good affordable microphones, particularly strong in their price ranges, and street for a new 012 and one pickup is comparable to the cost of this kit. With a second head (to add a second pickup pattern, as this mic has), it’s a bit more. They’re small-can capacitor instrument mics, rather than large-can, but we’re doing instrument recording, so that’s fair. The components inside – particularly older ones picked up used – can be a bit dodgy, but the design is great and the pickups are great, and you can upgrade the iffy capacitors and the suspect transistor if necessary. I have, of course, done this with mine.

Here’s the intro to “King of Elfland’s Daughter,” on the Oktava 012 (upgraded components) and the RK-47/990B kit. This recording repeats phrases, with the Oktava 012 first, then the RK-47/990B. Pure mono signal path, identical recording setup made within a few minutes of each other, but not simultaneously, as you can’t put two microphones in exactly the same place and I wanted the most equal comparison I could, modulo performance limitations. This probably also requires headphones, as the 012 is a pretty darned precise microphone itself:

44.1khz/16-bit uncompressed WAV file version here.

Once again, I’m finding that the RK-47 has a real staging advantage. There’s a sense of in-the-room presence with the RK-47 that I can make happen by dual-miking with my other microphones and mixing down, but not directly in mono.

Now, I don’t want to leave the impression that it is BEST AT ALL THINGS, because it’s not. These aren’t the only recordings I made – they’re just ones that show differences best. The first example I found was mandolin – the Nova likes my mandolin better than the RK-47 does. The specific response behaviour and foibles of the Nova work in its favour; a single RK-47 may have more presence and precision than a single Nova, but the Nova recording sounded more musical just the same. I’m sure there will be other examples as well.

In the end, I think this will probably become a heavy-use microphone in my kit. It may even become my go-to mic on the zouk – I need to do some stereo and multi-distance comparisons before I will know that for sure, but it’s looking very good. I also like what it does with piccolo and flute. I haven’t done any playing around with fiddle or drums, and one thing I want to play with is a two-mic setup with the ribbon kit mic I built, to see how those behave together – it’s a mic placement technique I’ve wanted to try for a while, but have never got round to testing. Now is probably the time.

I kind of wish I’d ordered the matched-pair version of this microphone kit. But it would’ve cost twice as much and I couldn’t know in advance I’d like it this much, so.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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Also, health things

Mar. 27th, 2017 11:01 am
darthneko: Firefly/Serenity River Tam ([fandom] dresses and combat boots)
[personal profile] darthneko
Going back to the 10mg dose of the Adderall. The 15mg dose just gives me insomnia but doesn't actually help any better with the focus that I can tell. Somewhat less, actually, because now I have insomnia, can't sleep until around midnight or 1am, and am dead tired when I get up at 5am, so that's less than helpful.

The doctor (not my long term usual one, this is a different one who's overseeing the Adderall for me) also finally felt it necessary to tweak at me about my weight. The wanting to check my weight I understand, because a side effect can be loss of appetite and too-fast weight loss. This is not the case for me - my appetite is fine, my weight remains exactly the same. Cut for damned weight things by professionals who should damned well know better but I count it as a win because I had the last word. )
isis: (quill)
[personal profile] isis
I wrote something! Actually this is the first thing I have written in a year that wasn't written for a fic exchange, if you count polishing and posting a longfic that I had mostly written the previous year as "writing". And it's in a fandom I don't think any of you are in, but I'm going to link it here anyway:

The Mark of the Year (3801 words) by Isis
Fandom: Wiedźmin | The Witcher (Video Game)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon/Astrid (The Witcher)
Characters: Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, Astrid (The Witcher)
Additional Tags: Post-Canon, Witcher!Ciri, References to game events, Sauna
Summary: One year after burying Skjall and facing the Wild Hunt, Ciri returns to Lofoten.

This story came about entirely because there is a scene in the game involving Ciri going to a sauna. (In this game, the player usually controls Geralt, the titular Witcher, but there are quests in which the player character is Ciri, Geralt's sort-of-adopted-daughter who he spends the first part of the game searching for.) Astrid, whose brother has a crush on Ciri, asks Ciri if she likes him; one possible player response is, "To be honest, I prefer women." But if you choose this response (and I did!) nothing racy happens, alas, which is sort of surprising because Geralt has several romantic scenes (or at least the possibility of them). SO I HAD TO WRITE SOMETHING.

(Not that this fic makes sense without knowing the game, or that I expect anyone on my flist to read it, just that I wanted to tell the story of why I wrote it!)

Soundbite

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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