Saturday 11/15/14: Forgot to include: Reading by Jason D. Wittman at DreamHaven Books.
I won a prize: a DVD of Planet of the Cats and Revenge of the Mice. Err, Cat People and Curse of the Cat People.
***Thursday 11/20/14 From Lee Gold: "Sunday 11/16/14. World and Future Building MinnSpec meetup at Black: Coffee and Waffles. It worked well, despite my poor planning. (I thought Black would be uncrowded on Sunday. Figured about 5 people would attend, and there were about 13. Acoustics rather less favorable than I realized.)
"It devolved into several conversation groups.
"Note: Black has black coffee, but doesn't seem to have black waffles."
Blackberry syrup? (I may suggest that, but it's only a partial fix.)
"Wednesday 11/19/14. -'Cold Weather Hits All of US,'- Star Tribune story listing, front page.
"So, how well did Honolulu do at snow removal?"
Los Angeles didn't have any snow either.
Or any special cold weather last night.
***Friday 11/21/14: Outdoor Adventure Expo at Midwest Mountaineering. Earned one raffle ticket, entered one prize drawing. Picked up swag, including a device originally designed for cleaning horses' hooves and repurposed for cleaning camping footwear and other equipment.
At a sled dog table, petted a puppy not old enough to pull a sled (nine weeks.) At the "adopt a Siberian Husky" booth, petted a full-grown husky.
***Sunday 11/23/14: Back to the Expo. Attended presentation on Croatia and Slovenia, by someone who conducts tours there. I visited Croatia, back when it was part of Yugoslavia. The presenter's taste was somewhat different from mine. (Not unexpected; he warned the audience about taste differences when he began speaking and showing slides.)
***Bought an exercise device: a thick rubber ring meant for developing hand, finger, and forearm strength and for stress relief.
Admittedly, this may only be an issue for people who call those who are in a country without official permission 'illegals' and are fans of The Americans. But still, I wonder.
2. I continue to listen to Vienna Teng on loop.
3. I was rather irritated by the most recent poetry-in-translation I read (because of the translator, not the author!). I accidentally had a bit of a rant and consequently feel somewhat better.
4. My largest smallcousin is a fuckin' rockstar and I am so proud of her.
(And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)
As sometimes happens, a different coworker later came up to me and said "Are you all right? I'm so sorry that happened. I was on the verge of saying something to [coworker who was speaking], but I didn't, but I wanted to apologize to you on behalf of all of us." These are quiet, private conversations, that of course go nowhere in terms of precluding such behavior in the future. In fact often the coworkers who express this sentiment are doing so more because they hate the offensive coworker, for whatever reason, that week, than out of genuine solidarity or sympathy, as evidenced by the fact that these "sympathetic" coworkers themselves occasionally make disparaging comments about Russians, mock Russian accents or Russian food, etc. (Last week we had a whole discussion at lunch about how gross Russian food was, obviously initiated by people who were not me, but I was present. It was great.)
It makes me think about a lot of things.
About how used to it I am, at this point. About how it's taken slightly less than 3 years of working in a place where I'm the only Russian speaker to be used to this. Where I'm no longer even offended or angry, just tired and scared. Where I just want to ignore everything I can, forget everything I can, pretend these people don't hold these opinions, pretend, in the most fantastical scenario, that they don't even know I'm Russian. That I can hide it from them somehow, make them forget. How well I've learned to navigate the battle of being visibly, outspokenly Russian with being prepared for the backlash. I know people will mock me, I know they won't understand my perspective, I know they think my parents are trash and their accents, their food, their fashion sense are horrible.
At least so far - so far, praise be - I haven't succumbed to actually wishing I wasn't Russian. I've always hoped that spending my adolescence in a 98% Russian speaking environment, among my fellow immigrants, has inoculated me against that, at least. A lot of my upbringing, both at home and at school, growing up, talked about people who were, essentially, "ethnic traitors". People who would change their names, change their clothes, pretend not to speak Russian, avoided Russian things at all costs, etc. These people - kids and adults - were despicable, pitiable, pathetic. My mother used to tell me, when I was 7, about my native-born classmates, who used to bully the fuck out of me, including stealing and destroying my things, beating me up and spitting on me: "don't try to fool people that you're one of them. They'll always know that you're not." I had asked to change my name to something less Russian sounding than Marina. Perhaps Miriam. My mother had laughed, a sort of kind, sad smile. Like she didn't know how to explain to me that nothing I did would ever be enough.
I used to hate myself a lot as a kid, for a lot of reasons, most of which had to do with immigration. When I was older, my hatred for people who tried to "pass" as non-Russian bordered on the irrational. It was not uncommon among my peers. There was literally nothing more pathetic, to us, than trying to suck up to the people who bullied you in grade school, who thought your heritage was garbage, who mocked your parents. It was too sad and disgusting to contemplate.
It took a long time, to learn to forgive. To accept that there are no good choices under duress. To learn not to judge my fellow immigrants for whatever they had to do to survive.
The other thing instances like this make me think about is - how privileged I am, and how utterly horrible it is that this is my experience considering how privileged I am. I'm not even on the outskirts of marginalized identities in Israel. Mine is a relatively light case.
It makes me sick and terrified to live in this country, drives home how incredibly, unspeakably worse it must be for others, who like me work and live here, in this, our most progressive city.
Lastly, it makes me think about how uncomfortable I am, still, in spaces occupied by the wealthy, educated, "liberal" elites of this country.
I, and most people from my community, come from areas of poverty, lack of access to resources, lack of education, working class neighborhoods. These were the people I grew up with, the people I was surrounded by. Ethnic tensions in these places looked entirely different. I grew up unused to the subtlety, the insidious nature of discrimination and prejudice when it's something one can't openly mention in polite company.
Among my coworkers, the educated liberals will only say derogatory things about Russians when caught off guard. When they're stressed or in the middle of a poorly thought out joke or are responding to a statement they didn't realize would touch on Russianness. They're not necessarily repentant, afterwards, but they feel as though they've transgressed.
Where I grew up, when people didn't like Russians they were very vocal about it. Everything about their manner, their speech, their attitude let you know they thought you were beneath them. No one was shy about using slurs or saying what they really thought. The refinement always makes me uneasy. Everything feels like hypocrisy. It's like I have to assume beforehand that everyone has these prejudices, or else I'll let myself get attached and only discover it at crunch time, when there's stress or drama or something major happens. It worries me, sets me on edge, being around people who think they're above ugly prejudice or discrimination. That they're too smart, too "good", too educated, too peace loving, too kind to fall prey to it.
I know I'm certainly not above prejudice, I know it's something I struggle with, in areas where it doesn't affect me and even in some areas where it does. I try to keep that in mind. Understanding how oppression works doesn't make you immune to perpetuating it. The air you breathe is always tinged with it, and the work of undoing its effects is continuous.
Anyway, it just always makes me think how odd that is, and how not-unusual. To work so hard to get to the "top", to live and work in the centers of social and material wealth, only to feel, after all your formal education, like you miss the open hostility and discrimination of the neighborhoods you worked so hard to escape.
Native-born Israelis: please consider whether your comments are appropriate on a post like this, and please don't speak for me or for groups you don't belong you re: what it's like living in Israel. In general, but especially here.
I thought this was done fairly well, but I still thought that it was undermined by the fact that everyone was lying to her all the way through, it made the middle bits so different in retrospect in way which doesn't really seem to be acknowledged.
Mirage, Matt Ruff
I read this for Bug's book club and then had a clashing engagement and couldn't go.
About an alternate world where there's a United States of Arabia instead of United States of America and 9/11 happens in reverse. I liked a lot of the characters, but lost interest in what was going to happen half way through.
It was a lot less fail-some than I expected, and made some good points about some of the problems in how many arabic countries are seen. But I thought the mirror-image conceit was pushed too hard, in a way which reinforces an idea that America=civilised and middle-east=not, which isn't what we want to reinforce.
I agreed with Rmc's review http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/555077.h
The Demon's Lexicon, Sarah Rees Brennan
I enjoyed this. I think I saw SRB doing something cool online or at a con and found the book from there, but I don't recall exactly how.
Magicians main power is summoning demons, which always must be imprisoned in circles. This is a quick path to the dark side because they need to feed on people. Some people have lesser magic powers, but it's hard to compete. About the main character and his brother, and traumatised almost-silent mother, moving from city to city intermittently trying to have a normal school life while being intermittently found and hunted down by circles of magicians.
It's a YA-type book which I find slightly reminiscent of DWJ (with imperfect relationships between teens and discovering a lot of things which were evident but the main character was oblivious to), which is a good start.
I was left wanting something chewier, and more "lexicon", but I enjoyed it. I don't know how it would compare for someone closer in age to the protagonists.
Shadowboxer, Tricia Sullivan
Somewhere I was recommended several female-protagonist urban-fantasy combat-sports books, the last being Jacqueline Carey's Santa Olivia about a faux-werewolf boxer.
I'm only 2/3 of the way through this. About a just-under-18 girl with a large temper and chequered history as an up-and-coming Mixed-Martial-Arts fighter, who punches someone at the wrong time and takes a sabbatical at her manager's cousin's gym in Thailand, fighting Muay Thai. Mixed up with the story with magic about the eternal forest, and a fostered girl escaping her immortality-seeking guardian, starting from Thailand but later returning back to America.
I loved the main character and MMA/Muay Thai, which has small touches of magic, which are well done as relevant but deniable, but is mostly about her real life. The secondary characters are vivid, and the main character comes across well as someone sympathetic but with a real anger problem.
The other thread was well described but I found less engaging, as I'm already convinced that 99% of fictional orphans warring against evil magicians automatically prevail, whereas I was genuinely unsure about the fights.
These are all very first-world problems, but, on top of my not feeling 100% well with vague and intermittent symptoms that don't constitute me sick enough to get off work and existing commitments, aaaaarghsome.
I was not entirely prepossessed by the dermatology clinic at London Teaching Hospital last week, since, although it was no longer in a building large swathes of which were being closed down and echoing around it, it was in a really unwelcoming hole and corner space on the floor over the clap clinic, with the receptionist concealed behind the door, a queue across the doorway to see her, and everything seemed really disorganised. I will, however, concede that I did manage to get seen (by a doc who did not seem to have had prior access to my notes) within 15-20 minutes of arrival.
I am also in a 'financial transactions badly aspected' phase, and while none of this is actually critical and it is not as though I have the bailiffs at the door due to these various instances of inefficiency, it has involved more time than I like listening to hold music and please hang on messages, repetitive phone conversations, and naggy emails.
Would my dearios not have imagined that, two months late and counting, I would have had paid my expenses for being Guest Speaker at Ottawa conference? Ha!
There is new system at work whereby instead of minor sums coming out of petty cash with proferred receipts as necessary, all expense claims have to be put in the same way and signed off by line manager. Our LM is currently away so I got a minor matter of a taxi fare signed off by someone who used to be my LM before the reshuffle, who, it turns out, is not authorised to sign off on that account.
Also I am having Immense Faff with Financial Institution which already has Massive Incompetence Form, in which people give me the wrong information as to why they are calling me, are not giving me pertinent information, and signally failing to transfer my money that they happen to be holding to the place where I would like it.
Added unto which, I am trying to find a pillow that suits my requirements (non-down, fairly flat) and discover that the various purveyors of beds and bedding along Tottenham Court Road have masses of cushions and jolly throw pillows and snazzy pillowcases but are really coy about committing to just plain ol' pillows that you can then put your existing cases on, and seem to have very limited ranges.
Ferguson protestors need money for jail, bail & life[.] The Ferguson Legal Defense Fund will help
Via rushthatspeaks, the Ferguson National Response Network (fergusonresponse)
Boston area: Police B2 Headquarters, 2400 Washington St., Roxbury, Tuesday, November 25th, 7 PM. The internet indicates that the best way to do this is the P4 or P5 Silver Line to Dudley Square.
Black. Lives. Matter.
thingswithwings: Watsons, Hudsons, and Invisible Labour
When the labour of Watsons - and Lestrades and Gregsons, and original characters like Bell and Alfredo and Snowplow Driver Pam - is shown to be of value, it speaks against the Holmes adaptations that assumed that Holmeses are the only people worth valuing.
Katie Johnston @ Boston Globe: ‘Area Four’ residents in Cambridge live in shadow of the future
As global pharmaceutical companies build new labs, Internet giants Google and Twitter expand, and startups snap up office space at ever-higher rents, families living in the shadow of the innovation economy are flocking to the local food pantry at three times the rate of a decade ago.
Argh. Flail. "Robin Hood isn't historical Mummy" (which cheered me). So we went for "wedding suit and top hat, you can be Brunel" except he decided he wanted to be a Victorian magician. So I made a top hat and a wand out of thick black paper and sellotape in about 10 minutes, and he got breakfast and cleaned his teeth and got to school on time. I was only a little late to work.
* Mussaf is always recited back-to-back with shacharis, and inserted before the end-of-shacharis עָלֵינוּ and psalm of the day; it does not add additional kaddishes to the service. Besides, after the sheloshim I determined to reclaim some of my time by reciting a halachically minimal bare-bones service in the morning from Monday to Friday and then leaving shul after בָּרְכוּ; by chosing not to count mussaf separately it means I don't count the kaddishes after עָלֵינוּ on the times rosh chodesh fell on a non-Sunday weekday as missed services.
† I didn't try and get there for the kaddishes before פְּסוּקֵי דְזִמְרָה because I knew they wouldn't have a minyan; I assumed I'd be able to say kaddish later in the service, like on any other day of the year. I was surprised to discover those were in fact the only mourner's kaddish and kaddish derabbanan in the entire day (aside from those the previous evening).
I'm posting, however, to let people know about the Ferguson National Response Network, which has a coordinated list of protests being planned across the country, mostly for today. I don't know if I'm going to be physically capable of attending Baltimore's tonight, but there are planned protests in loads of locations and judging by my reading list I know a lot of you are just as upset as I am.
(And if you're looking for something you can give to people in your life who don't get it, I thought this article by Janee Woods, 12 Ways to Be a White Ally to Black People, was a really good attempt at being concise and clear about a very complicated subject.)
It's like a rule of computing that everything you fix either causes or reveals at least two other problems. I was mostly laughing because it's so familiar from everything I do breaking when I ask people to test it for me. At least this time it's not my responsibility!
Now, if only my emails would start working again...
This show is really trying to break me.
( Read more... )
I feel conflicted about this. It's beautifully shot and the acting is top-notch and the story is interesting enough. But I dislike every single character, most worryingly even the two leads (Noah is just such a holier-than-thou, look-at-me-noone-understands-me forty-something white male; Alison is more sympathetic but ultimately I never warmed up to her). And I've always found adultery difficult to watch (it's one of my biggest fears, so I suppose this hits all a bit too close to home). However, I keep on watching. ( Read more... )
This is basically the opposite of The Affair. I adore the main characters but wish the plot in general and story-of-the-week were more interesting.
( Read more... )
Anyway, this is mostly fluff I watch because Tea Leoni and Tim Daly are awesome and hot. I know that if I were back to work I would have neither time nor patience to deal with this sort of show (the politics are very...American).
I mainlined the first eight episodes of the new season when briasoleil was here and have only now had the chance to catch up with the latest two. This is not the kind of show I'd seek out and watch on my own (supernatural drama is not my thing, as a general rule but I'm willing to make excepetions for good writing, see Being Human (UK)) but last year briasoleil made it again very easy for me to watch it and I was charmed. Ichabod is too adorable not to watch and his friendship/partnership with Abby is brilliant - I want more boy/girl teams of friendship and awesome. (I ship them a little, only I'm afraid the show would ruin what's great about them if they got together).
( Read more... )
I don't have much to say about this one. I enjoy all detective dramas if well-written, and this one is no exception.
( Read more... )
I just remembered something - wasn't Colin Morgan supposed to star in this series of The Fall? Did I miss something?
This is a BBC America drama I stumbled across by chance and decided to watch because a) after bringing us Orphan Black I felt I owed it to BBC America to give their original stuff attention b) it's written by Toby Whithouse, i.e. the writer and creator of Being Human (UK), one of my favourite shows of the past few years.
It's a spy story set in the 1970s. Cold war sort of stuff - an MI6 cell is trying to take down a KGB operation in Britain, known as Operation Glass. It's shot beautifully, in a way that is very reminiscent of Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy (all muted colours and artsy camera work), and I think that was clever as the comparison was inevitable. However it lacks the Machiavellian intricacy of the Le Carré . Which could be its saving grace or biggest weakness, depending on how you felt about the 2011 film, I suppose. I had liked it very much.
The cast is very good and features many of the twelve British actors. ( Read more... )
Unfortunately the writing is not what I expected from Withhouse or possibly it's just the Americans have raised the bar too high when it comes to Cold War espionage. it's all perfectly fine and nice to watch but not terribly exciting.
Which, of course, made it way better.
I got an armored jetpack suit! And I got to kiss a girl! A few of them, actually. I'm kind of surprised that my subconscious thinks I'm so fanciable!
Ah well. Time to go back to bed.
One of the American kestrels got the first stage of frostbite in her armpit. That area doesn't have good feather coverage, since it can normally be covered by the wing, but this bird has some nerve damage that makes her right wing droop. She's inside now, in one of the hospital cages, to recover, and we're trying to figure out how to keep her warm at night when she moves back out.
Aiko is shedding his summer coat, so I got to use my new Furminator. It was very windy today. Literalized the metaphor of "blowing coat".
I think (and really hope) my application packet is much more competitive this year, regardless of my still-shitty GRE math score. But I test crappy in math in standardized tests anyway, which I plan to point out on my statement. I've worked on multiple research projects, I'm slated for several publications, and in general I feel I've proven a good history of workable academia.
I just... I want this year to go so much better, and not have to be frantically pulling at unraveling ends by May.
I'm reading some Simenon's Maigret. Which is appropriate for this time. It's short but extremely well written and a lovely social portrait of France after WW1.
I also have Fanny Britt's lovely, lovely graphic novel Jane, the Fox and me. I have the original in French but both English and French edition are lovely. Isabelle Arsenault's images are just amazing. If you have the chance to read this, do so. It has angst, it has a young girl who takes refuge in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. It's simply really worth the time you'll put finding it.
Off to a hot bath, some reading, maybe an episode or two of NCIS LA. I have all of the new season sitting in my queue to watch.
Gothic fantasy, magical realism, fairy-tale, yes, all of these are true and it's a brilliant book. But it's a fairy-tale where the ogre eats the child, where Cinderella doesn't have a fairy god-mother, where the hateful parents and the monsters win and the unloved child stays unloved forever. I keep on having to stop and look at pretty pictures on tumblr or talk to cat. Just can't.
Is there a reason websites that have a morass of password restrictions don't show them on the LOGIN screen, so you can remember what constraints you had to deform your password to meet? Is it sheer hatred for humanity? Or just incompetence? Or better, why not accept that I don't care about your stupid insecure grasping website and give me a one-time log-in code to my actual email address, rather than forcing me to pretend that because I had to use your site once, it will automatically become my primary email address? I guess that last question answers itself.
There's a reason google is seductive and evil, "evil and repellent" is not a good sell!
I must really Make An Effort and try and do some arting and exhibitioning in the next few months.
While the Expotition to Dulwich for the Emily Carr exhibition is something that partner and I have marked down to do (maybe over the Xmas/New Year break?), there are a couple of other things on my own list.
Maggi Hambling, Walls of Water, at the National Gallery. A few weeks ago we went to a concert which included a piece inspired by these paintings, which were flashed up during the performance, and I strongly felt that I needed to see the actual works. Article in today's Guardian.
This one is partly for New Project Research Purposes: Spaces of Black Modernism: London 1919–39 explores the experiences and interactions of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds in London’s art world between the wars (Tate Britain). I heard one of the curators talk about this subject at a conference last year, and very much want to know more.
Some variation of which has happened like six times today. None of it was directed at me personally, but still it's hard not to feel attacked after a while, and it only gets harder to bite my tongue and not rage at strangers who'd think I was crazy because they were, after all, only joking!
I did manage not to say anything to any of them. But I had to tell someone.
* Don't get me wrong, I certainly think U.S. English is incorrect for some situations, but I don't like blanket statements about how wrong it is and how awful that British people ever have to be subjected to it.
You can help fund a research expedition to the Falkland Islands.
10 days left for them to reach their goal, and it's an all or nothing campaign. There isn't much in the way of donation rewards, but you could get some very pretty penguin pictures, or even a calendar.