writerlibrarian: Oriental calligraphy in red (Default)
[personal profile] writerlibrarian
Back at work since Monday and it's been a full three days. All the work I put in in July to prepare next year budget... went pouf. IT did an update and merger and all my data went into the ether. Management has been bugging us to not print out our budget data to save on paper, printer, etc.
Well.... the one time I did not print out my data is the one time I would have needed it.

I spent a full day redoing the work I had done back in July. It was faster this time around because I knew were all my source data was and it was all compiled.

Long week-end coming up to close up summer.

Inbox (Books acquired)

Patti Smith. M Train. The follow up to Just Kids.

Outbox (Books finished)

Chuck Wendig. Aftermath. The first episode of a trilogy set just after the battle of Endor. I enjoyed it. Having been a fan of the early post Return of the Jedi books (Timothy Zahn comes to mind), I know the "recipe". Wendig  takes the recipe and makes it his own. I liked the new characters introduced, the plot, the universe. A good read and I'm looking forward book 2.

I read pretty much only Wending and slowly going through The Stucky Big Bang.

Plaise au Ciel I gave up on this one. Really, really bad.

In the Queue (Books I'm reading now)

Eleanor Dwight. Diana Vreeland. Biography of one of New York Fashion Goddess. So far it's good.  This is an ILL from the library.

Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London. That's a reread. There's an imzy community for rereading all the books up to the arrival of the new book, The Hanging Tree. If you need an invite for imzy to join the community just let me know. I have the UK edition of Rivers. I'm a UK edition type of fan for this series.

Avengers, transform

Sep. 1st, 2016 12:20 am
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker
Each image is 10,000 lines forming one continuous thread. I evolved each image from the previous one, which took about two hours a pop (talking to Ben woodhouse I reckon I can drop this to minutes or seconds). I then blend each line from image A to image B (this isn't the path evolution took it on, just from where it started to where it ended up).
(Says my brother Mike. Who made this. And is dead smart.)
16MB animated GIF )

Reading Wednesday

Aug. 31st, 2016 06:45 pm
slashmarks: (Leo)
[personal profile] slashmarks
Empress of the World – Sara Ryan

Reread, lesbian YA. Nicola is a teenager attending a summer program that allows gifted teenagers to take college classes for archaeology. On her first day, she meets several other teenagers, including Battle, studying world history mostly for the chance to get away from her parents for the summer. They eventually embark on a complicated romance.

Despite the premise, in some ways this is a very unusual book. The romance story line is more realistically uncertain than a lot of romance, and it ends without being clearly resolved. I read a lot of books dealing with “gifted” teenagers or children as a teenager, and this is the only one I can think of which doesn't really spend any time on it. It's more a background detail of the setting than anything else.

Probably the most significant strengths of this are prose and characterization. It's written in first person present and includes copious excerpts of Nicola's journal in a different font, which is a gamble for most writers but was pulled off very well here. There's a sort of vivid, emotional intensity to everything; little moments carry weight throughout the book, both emotional and funny.

I like the characters, also, very much. All of the main characters (a group of four friends) are real in a way that teenagers in fiction often aren't allowed to be, and so are their parents. They have complex interests and their own values and feelings, and at the same time they are very believably teenaged in the sense that they are just working out how to have relationships (platonic and romantic) and often making very recognizable mistakes in the process of working it out. This book was the first thing I can remember reading as an adult where the characters felt both realistically teenaged and distinctly younger than me.

Sometimes, I should note, those mistakes are frustrating to watch; the major conflict of the romance is Nicola and Battle's attempts to work out communication, which ultimately are neither successful nor unsuccessful. Katrina, their best friend, is generally good-intentioned but making the sort of floundering tactless comments that straight teenagers who are trying to be supportive of something they know very little about do. Etc.

Cirque Arachne – Saida Nika

This is a short manga about lesbian acrobats. It's sweet and funny and has an emotional arc without anything very bad or stressful happening apart from a few moments of embarrassment. I don't really feel I know enough about manga to critique it seriously, but I enjoyed this, and the scanlation I read is available for free online.

Teti was raised by her father, a circus performer, and has just joined a new circus by herself for the first time. Upon seeing the circus's acrobat, Lotte, perform, she is instantly attracted. After a trial period she's assigned to work with Lotte; the two lust after each other secretly while working on their performance until they eventually confess their feelings. Very nice art, I particularly liked Lotte's hairstyles. Contains an imo mild sex scene.

(no subject)

Aug. 31st, 2016 05:29 pm
sorcyress: Drawing of me as a pirate, standing in front of the Boston Citgo sign (Default)
[personal profile] sorcyress
Y'ever have one of those moments where you just *feel* your nerdyness take a ping upwards?

For the first time ever, I bought extra stamps, to hold onto myself. That's right, I am officially a stamp collector. HELLA NERD!

(They have planets on them and they are *beautiful!* Can you blame me?)


(no subject)

Aug. 31st, 2016 03:07 pm
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
[personal profile] staranise
Tons of talk lately about the "How to Talk to Women Wearing Headphones" (Captain Awkward on it is the most recent thing I saw).

It's just funny to read about, for example, a man coming up to a woman who can't see him and pulling out her earbud. Partly for trauma reasons, and partly for "vocation of dealing with people with trauma" reasons, it is so ingrained in me to always interact with other people as though they have combat reflexes--that is, as if they have the potential to respond to feeling threatened with violence or flight. So it's just part of my body language that I don't touch people unnecessarily, I don't hinder their movement, I don't approach them from behind, I get their attention before I come within arm's reach, I give auditory cues before visual ones (knocking on a doorframe, then stepping into the doorway), I don't block access to exit routes.

In the shelter, it makes sense and it's appreciated. But most people aren't used to treating anybody, especially not women, especially not women who don't look super robust and angry, that way.

It's... weird, to think about people who don't live with those lenses on.


Aug. 31st, 2016 10:12 pm
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
[personal profile] rmc28
'And what happened in the end?' asks the reader, who has followed Hazel and his comrades in all their adventures and returned with them at last to the warren where Fiver brought them from the fields of Sandleford.

[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]

soon_lee: Image of yeast (Saccharomyces) cells (Default)
[personal profile] soon_lee

(I got a hint spring was nearly here earlier in the week when my allergies showed up briefly)

Rice cakes with shrimp

Aug. 31st, 2016 02:40 pm
redbird: apricot (apricot)
[personal profile] redbird
[livejournal.com profile] cattitude and I went into Boston yesterday to explore a bit in Chinatown. We got off the T at South Station, and found the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which has a very nice and non-standard fountain in with the bamboo and all.

After walking through the formal Chinatown gate, we just wandered a bit, looking at things and specifically restaurants. We passed a sidewalk produce seller, and I stopped and browsed, not because I wanted anything specific, but just because it felt right that they were there. That stand had nothing I wanted, but a little further along someone was selling fresh ginger root for $1.00/pound. I looked through the bin, found a piece I liked, and handed it to one of the vendors. She weighed it, then handed it off to her coworker, who said something I didn't catch (but don't think was English). I handed her a dollar bill, and waited while she found a bag to put the ginger in and sorted through a cup of change. I now have sixty cents worth of ginger, or more than I will use before it goes bad, and confirmation that my protocols for buying produce with no language in common still work. (I wasn't really in doubt, having used them at street markets in Hong Kong as well as New York.)

After a bit more walking, we had two places marked out as plausible for an early lunch. Cattitude said "let's go to the one on this side of the street," but when we got back there, there was a line. I thought that was a good sign of quality, but he didn't want to stand, so we went to the other.

Gourmet Dumpling House has a newspaper review on the outside wall that says the menu is more Taiwanese than most Americans are used to, but also has the "familiar" Szechuan food. The menu is large, but in scanning it I noticed rice cakes with pork and mustard greens, which seemed right up Cattitude's alley. It was. I then saw the note that a couple of dozen items were available with any of several kinds of noodle, one of them being rice cakes, and found a line that said "beef (or shrimp) with vegetables."

Rice cakes with shrimp was one of my two usual orders at Excellent Dumpling, when I lived in New York. I think this version may be better than what I remember from Excellent Dumpling, because they include bits of sauteed onion. (There's also less shredded cabbage and more bean sprouts, which is okay though not an improvement.)

In addition to the noodles, we decided to try the restaurant's version of a soup dumpling. Neither of us liked the dumplings, but this may be because we wanted and expected the kind that has pork surrounded by chicken broth, and these were in something closer to a pork gravy. We didn't finish them, but we ate enough to have leftovers of both noodle dishes; I had mine for lunch today.

I will definitely be going back, and maybe explore more of the menu, though I don't plan to order pig's blood with vegetables, even though it's offered as a lunch special.

I am pleased as well as amused that I now know places where I can get my favorite noodle dish in New York and Boston, and they both have "dumpling house" in their names.

(52 Beach Street, Boston; we took the red line to South Station, and went home from Park Street; Chinatown on the orange line is the closest T station.)
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

When I first started getting more seriously about this photography stuff, I focused mainly on getting a decent DSLR and learning how to use it to take better pictures. Pretty much common sense, right? I didn’t realize at the time how important the processing of those pics was to the final result.

At first, I was using the camera’s default settings, which meant every image came out as a jpg file. At the beginning of 2015, I switched that setting to RAW. Now, instead of the camera processing the image and compacting it into a jpg, I got the whole file with all the data and information the camera captured. Suddenly I could adjust white balance, tweak the exposure and shadows, and so much more. Compare the camera’s default jpg of Zoey from last year (left) to the one I processed from the RAW file (right).

Zoey JPG Zoey-raw

That was just the start. In the past, I’d used Photoshop to do some basic fixes and adjustments to my photos, but I’d never really learned to take advantage of everything the software could do. (I’m told Lightroom is even better, but like everything else in this hobby, that would require spending more money.)

On the left is a picture of Sophie. I’ve already done the initial white balance and such in RAW, but haven’t done anything else. On the right is a picture where I’ve reduced the color noise, added a few contrast layers, added a saturation layer to brighten her nose, blurred the foreground a bit, and added a little sharpening.

Sophie-raw1 Sophie-raw2

It’s particularly apparent when it comes to Milky Way photos. For a long time, I thought I just didn’t have a good enough lens and camera, or maybe I wasn’t getting the settings right. I could see the Milky Way in my pictures, but it was awfully faint. The shot on the left is an example of a jpg straight from the camera. But then I started researching how professionals process these pictures, and I realized a lot of the pics they start out with look faint and washed out too. But look what happens when you add several layers of contrast adjustment and a little bit of noise reduction.

Milky Way jpg Milky Way 2

I know the experienced photographers are probably rolling their eyes and saying, “It took you how long to figure this out?” But for me, this was an exciting revelation, one that’s added a lot to my photos … at least when I have the time to really work on them.


Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Previously unread.

This is the first book in Asher's Polity subseries called Transformation. There's, at the moment, a second book in the series (War Factory) and I would strongly recommend starting with this one. I didn't, for a long sequence of complicated hilarious reasons, mostly involving technology finding interesting edge cases.

Anyway. We follow a whole bunch of different points of view. We follow Thorvald Spear, a former bio-intelligence officer who died and has now been re-embodied (hail memory crystals and clone tanks, I guess). We follow Isobel Satomi, a criminal (mostly into all sorts of illegal stuff, including kidnapping humans, infecting them with the Spatterjay virus, ripping their brain and spinal cord out and selling them to high-paying Pradors wanting human blanks to thrall). We follow somethingsomething Sobel, one of Satomi's underlings. We occasionally follow Svarl, a Prador Father-Captain.

One thing all of these have in common is that they have, at one point or another, interacted with Penny Royal, one of the Polity's "black AIs" (basically, an AI gone bad).

Eminently readable, but kinda grimdark, if grimdark tried hard to darken its grim. Plenty of gore, non-consent, blatant murder, body-horror and general ick.
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

So here’s some books I’d recommend, along with the thing that’s stuck with me months after reading them:

N.K. Jemesin’s The Fifth Season – Clearly Explaining The Unknown
Here’s a thing I didn’t realize was hard about writing until I saw N.K. Jemesin doing it effortlessly:

Explaining what’s happening without explaining why.

If I tell you “A guy is shooting at us from far away,” well, you understand both what and why.  You understand that a gun is designed to kill people with super-fast projectiles, you understand that it’s fired only when someone’s trying to kill you, you understand that this is deadly force.

That’s the “Why.”

Now surgically remove all of those elements to leave you in the dark about what a gun is, leaving you only the “what.”  You hear loud noises.  People are dying, maybe with little puffs of blood coming out of them, but you don’t know what bullets are and those fuckers are moving too fast for you to see.  You aren’t even aware that bullets come from a set direction unless you’re really good at intuiting on the fly, or maybe you see a flash from that window and connect the dots –

But the sequence of events is much more likely to confuse you.  You get that people are dying.  But explaining exactly what is going on without providing greater context is hard – and it gets harder later on when you have a character who can explain how this “gun” works and your mind snaps into context and goes, “Oh, okay, a gun, now all that made sense.”

You don’t see a lot of magic described in fiction without the why, because without a why lots of mundane things become impossible to describe, let alone crazy magic systems.  A guy’s mowing my lawn as we speak, and I envision writing a scene where a dude with a low-set deathblade machine methodically uses it to truncate certain forms of vegetation, and Jesus that’s going to leave a lot of people confused unless I explain why he’s doing that.

Jemesin is a goddamned expert on writing magic where you understand exactly what is going on, but don’t have the faintest clue why things are working that way.  You’re never more confused than you need to be.  You understand the results but not the reasons, which makes it so incredibly satisfying when the reasons come along later on and they all make sense and you get a sense of this stupendously deep magic system that keeps going, and going, and going.

It won the Hugo.  It deserved to.

Charlie Jane Anders’ All The Birds In The Sky – Endless Possibilities
All the Birds in the Sky can be described as “quirky.”  If you’re looking for a book with a finely-tuned plot, don’t bother – this is a book that meanders, taking long strolls down interesting paths, sometimes hand-waving the parts that aren’t as much fun to delve back into the weird stuff.

I absolutely love that tone.  I love the way this book doesn’t care about anything except what it thinks is cool.

Basically, All the Birds in the Sky follows two kids – one of whom grows up to become a great nature-witch working for a worldwide conspiracy, the other who becomes a techno-savant in a Silicon Valley world-changing tech corp – and both halves of that equation are unpredictable and unlike what you’ve seen in books before.

But it’s the side-trips I like.  Charlie Jane allows us to get snagged on these weird side characters with their own crazy histories, these little asides that flesh out the world.  A lesser book would have zoomed in on these two (compelling!) competing people, but by pulling out and allowing the rest of the world to take center stage from time to time what you get is this feeling of a world with limitless potential.

A lot of books feel like a Disney Park theme ride – everything happens within full view of you, and when you get off the ride you’ve seen all there is to offer.  Whereas All The Birds In The Sky makes me want to hop off that Disney ride because we just passed another ride, and that one looks so interesting too, but oh we only get a glimpse of it before riding into the distance.

I had the exact same feeling that I did when I read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell in that I would have been perfectly happy if this book had chosen never to end, and just kept following these awesome people around so I could hang with them.  The ending’s disappointing, but largely that’s because I didn’t particularly want it to finish, so I can hardly blame Charlie Jane for that.

Scott Hawkins’ Library At Mount Char – Tender, Loving Brutality
Picture a school like Hogwarts, instead of being run by a loving Dumbledore, it’s run by God.

Like, the guy who is in charge of the universe.  He didn’t create the universe.  You think.  But he is in absolute control of it, and he’s trying to teach you how to be his acolytes with the casually world-bending power that wizards have, and the only way he can do that is by showing you all the terrors of the universe.

You are at his whim.  There is nothing you can do.  He is God.  And yet he is gifting you with such extraordinary powers, even though he killed your mother and father and took you on-board and you strongly suspect he reorganized time in order to ensure you wound up right where he needed you so you were at your most vulnerable.

It’s a hell of a school.  You learn a lot.

But oh, how it costs.

And the thing is, I loved Library at Mount Char because this sounds brutal, and the book is even more brutal than that, with these psychologically scarred kids being put through a wringer and the world being battered at the hands of a guy who actually is more powerful than you’d dream.  (Like, death won’t save you from him – he’ll just go get you back, and he’s teaching you how to do that too.)

But peel away that very thick rind of horror, and underneath is one of the most compassionate books I have ever read.  I’ve never before read a book where buckets of blood is literally tame compared to what the headmaster does, and yet the characters come to such beautiful realizations that reader, I wept.

It’s a gorgeous balance – this book’s tender moments wouldn’t function without the alien coldness of the universe Scott Hawkins created, because the strange kindnesses that form when you’re smashed down that thoroughly become so meaningful.

And that ending.  Oh, I won’t spoil it for you.

But that ending.


Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished Two Travellers, also read Sarah Tolmie's series of linked short stories, NoFood (2014). V good, giving myself a little break before starting The Stone Boatmen.

Kate Elliott, Poisoned Blade (2016), which was almost too all-action for me - very edge of the seat all the time. V good. Did not like the prequel novella Night Flower quite as much: a bit slight?

Latest issue of Slightly Foxed.

Tanith Lee, L'Amber (2015), very much in the late Lee mode where she is almost writing straight fiction (no fantasy, no sff, mimetic rl setting, more or less) and still brings the spooky.

Short story by D des Anges, Vessel 151-B (2013), and yes, there is still a pattern...

On the go

Andrea Hairston, Will Do Magic for Small Change (2016) - has several characters from Redwood and Wildfire but not a sequel as such to the events of that book. Very good, at about the 80% mark. (And, thinking of a development in Poisoned Blade that seemed just a little irksome, brings something entirely unusual to adolescent love-triangle.)

Up Next

Either The Stone Boatmen or another Tanith Lee.


ETA spotted somewhere someone posting an article claiming that Mary Shelley's life was darker than her books: can only suppose the author of the piece has not read The Last Man, in which all humanity but the narrator has been wiped out by a pandemic by the final pages. Surely compared to that Shelley's life was a walk in the park?

Much trains, many snogging, wow.

Aug. 31st, 2016 07:50 pm
[personal profile] swaldman
Kyoto station is a bit of a tourist attraction in its own right - albeit an unadvertised one. It is a thoroughly modern structure that rises about 12 floors above the actual station concourse, and at every level there are hidden seats in nooks and crannies, most with a view over the station or over the city. This seems to have made it the place for teenage couples to hang out ;-)

Also, it has a platform 0. And a platform 33. It's big.

so now you're back, from outer space

Aug. 31st, 2016 01:52 pm
marina: (Default)
[personal profile] marina
Hi friends! I'm still alive!

So I had a week off work, and during that week I finalized and then lost an amazing apartment, because of course. I met with some friends and kept up with physical therapy but other than that I basically just... spent all day in bed watching stuff on netflix, occasionally rising to cook myself delicious food.

The three days preceding my vacation went like this:

Thursday: get up at 7am, go to work, do things after work until 9pm, drive to my parents', arrive at 10pm because traffic, celebrate dad's birthday until 1am.

Friday (weekend): get up at 7:30am, go to hairdresser's, get dolled up and go to dad's official birthday celebration, with family and friends, at an extremely loud restaurant, with dancing and like 7 courses (ah, Russian restaurants in Israel) until 5pm, then go with parents to look at amazing apartment (which I will later lose), finally get home at 8:30pm and help parents pack until after midnight.

Saturday: Get up at 7:30am, help parents pack, download media for the road, print out tour guide stuff, check in for the flight, etc, etc, drive parents to the airport around 2pm, hang out until their flight at 5pm, drive home, collapse.

Like, if I didn't have a week off after that I'm pretty sure I would have just collapsed at work the next day.

Anyway, very little usefulness happened, but I... needed that time. It really mostly served to emphasize to me how utterly worn down and haggard I was emotionally, and the week wasn't so much time to get better as a time to register and process how serious the problem was.

Anyway, before I went on vacation I also discovered this book series with an atrocious title that's actually been really fun to read. It's a fantasy setting with an OT3 pairing (is it technically romance? Probably?) of a woman living in disguise as a man stumbling into a relationship with two dudes who are a warrior and a cleric (the cleric is also a werewolf). I admit I haven't really been paying attention to the plot, but the relationship stuff is really great.

The protagonist has gender issues (like, gender related body dysphoria), and there's a lot of very well negotiated kink involved, and a lot of easy going, accepting person vs secretive, still-water-runs-deep person in the OT3, which I really enjoy. It's been less escapist for me, and has sort of solidified that I really just cannot read anything but M/M for complete turn-your-brain-off relaxation, but I've still been enjoying it a lot.

Anyway, the first book is free and you can get the other 3 as a bundle, so I feel the price is pretty reasonable?


This morning I woke up to a broken rear windshield :/ So that was fun. Spent the first half of my day driving to the garage and having it taken care of. I realize having it covered by insurance and only taking a few hours is a best case scenario, but. Did not need this timesuck today.

I'll be spending the next few days immersed deeply in trying to get a fucking thesis draft together, but I'm excited about the Killjoys finale. I don't even know why I'm still enjoying this show, but I am. It's been a comfort, and I'll be sad to see it go.


In very happy making news, [personal profile] cesy will be visiting our warm climes this November! She was here a few years ago and we had a fannish picnic, so local friends might have met her then? If not, local friends I highly recommend looking at her post with all the details. She'd love to meet local fan people and I can't recommend hanging out with her highly enough.
azurelunatic: Scissors cutting film. NaNoWriMo 2004 (Home Movies from the Cutting-Room Floor)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
I was Feeling Not Quite The Thing into the afternoon, and fell over for a nap sufficiently substantial that I had nearly no time to run the errands I'd planned to. I was going to meet up with Guide Dog Aunt for a movie this evening. (Wednesdays are no good: she has Boat that night. Boat is her granddog. Boat has enough German Shepherd to be a terror.)

I started having what may have been hot flashes over the weekend. Small ones. (Mumble) did the responsible-and-helpful thing (genuinely) and poked me to poke the doctor's office about it. I emailed. (They called me at fuck o'clock on Monday morning, left a voicemail saying I should call them, but just in case because I'd said that the phone was "hard" -- I'd said that the phone was the worst way for contact, in fact -- that they'd email too.) Their return email said that I should take my temperature twice a day, and if anything hit above 100F, to take my temperature an hour later, and call them immediately if it went over that.


Also, since I haven't had a child living with me in ... ages, I did not in fact have a functional thermometer.

It turns out that iPods do not like playlists with All The Stuff on it. And that turning off podcast syncing will in fact empty the iPod of all podcasts. This means that re-syncing takes about an hour, if it's the old-style thing and you've got about 5-6 gigs of audio to get back on the thing.

So just as my aunt was finding a parking space, I rolled in with my new thermometer and some cold groceries to put away. We then zipped off to the library to find some movies of mutual interest.

On the way, I gave her the update on the Latest Information On My Social Life. This included a super awkward conversationsecurity: filtered about a delicate topicsecurity: filtered, lasting basically until we got through the library doors, and commencing again once we left. *facepalm* Family, gentlefolks. Honesty can be helpful. Honesty can also be utterly embarrassing.

I had not, in fact, seen Pride and Prejudice, though I have certainly read the book. Guide Dog Aunt thinks Matthew Macfadyen resembles a young Dylan Moran, and I can see the resemblance.

IRC on the iPad, and a keyboard in my pocket, kept me moderately chatty with the usual suspect(s) during quieter moments of the movie.

The house is in moderate chaos. The solar panels are on the roof; tomorrow's the day when all the electricity gets shut off in order to hook those in. (I registered a charger for some electric vehicle or other. I think Woodworking Uncle may have a new toy.) Guide Dog Aunt's kitchen is getting renovated hardcore. There are boxed-up appliances shoved in the parlor, and the two big chairs have been replaced by something a little less murderous on the back.

As I headed out, I saw a familiar black-and-white striped rump and tail disappearing under the porch. My aunt had thought that the underside of the house had been rendered sufficiently inaccessible to skunk-kind. Apparently not. And she's got Boat (the shepherd with no chill) tomorrow. Fortunately she's got about a gallon of skunk-wash on hand...

Next doctor's appointment is Tuesday morning, in Oakland. [personal profile] quartzpebble plans to meet me there, for backup.

Dear Femslasher

Aug. 31st, 2016 12:50 am
ambyr: a brown-haired woman applauding in a crowd (Pro-Bending Audience)
[personal profile] ambyr
Dear Femslasher,

Hi! I am excited to find that you, too, love my fandoms, and I will be super-excited about any story that gets written in them. My journal is largely friendslocked, so stalking it may not tell you much about my fannish preferences. Sorry :-/. You can see my fic at [archiveofourown.org profile] ambyr, if that helps? I mostly write the kind of things I like.

What I like: I like seeing characters dumped into uncomfortable/unfamiliar situations and struggling to cope (and at least partially succeeding). Culture shock and cultural misunderstandings are particularly interesting. I like seeing non-obvious sources of power and strength explored. I like stories with ambiguity and shades of grey, particularly around motivations and feelings towards others. I like stories with a strong sense of setting (both place and time). I like watching consequences unfold and seeing how characters handle aftermaths. I like bittersweet endings that pay attention to the cost of victory (or the silver lining of defeat). I like post-apocalyptic roadtrips, if AU is your thing.

I am happy with stories that focus on the romantic side of the relationship, stories in which the characters flirt or pine but never actually establish a relationship, stories about couples in established relationships that focus entirely on Plot and Adventures, and PWP. If there is sex, I enjoy reading about kink if you think it suits the characters. I am fine with break-up fic or fic in which relationships generally do not go smoothly.

What I'd rather not get: I'm not very comfortable with stories about incest or rape, particularly not when they're used as a plot device ("X character is the way s/he is because of past sexual trauma"). I'm not really into AUs that posit "what if our characters were high school students/vampires/members of a colony of ants/etc.," though I do sometimes enjoy AUs of the "what if X character made a different decision, spinning canon off into a different direction" variety.

Notes on individual fandoms:

Avatar: Legend of Korra )

Fuse: Memoirs of a Huntress )

The Scorpion Rules - Erin Bow )

Seraphina - Rachel Hartman )

Sun Sword - Michelle West )

(no subject)

Aug. 30th, 2016 08:16 pm
cofax7: Smash Williams smiling (FNL - Smash Glee)
[personal profile] cofax7
Some nights you just really have to make macaroni and cheese from scratch. NOM. (At least I cut the recipe in half, and I added sauteed onions in vermouth.)


Sonofabitch, I'm going to miss this President.

Nice essay here on Why English is so weird.

The NY Times on climbing monster Alex Honnold. At one level, free-soloing can be seen as the most extreme expression of the same progression: One generation aid-climbs a route, the next climbs it in record time, the next free-climbs it, then it's time for someone to climb it without ropes. But free-soloing is so much more dangerous and frightening, even to highly experienced climbers, that a vast majority want no part of it. [This article appears to have been posted before Dean Potter's death in Yosemite.]

Noted for later:

Biographical essay on Dorothy Sayers.

The Atlantic has an appreciation of Mary Bennett.

I'm impressed by the VeteransforKaepernick hashtag on Twitter. Good stuff.


Since I won't remember, I'll do my reading Wednesday now.

Just Finished: The Untold Tale by J. M. Frey. Billed as a meta-portal fantasy. What it was was a bog-standard portal fantasy adventure with a seriously dubious romance (dubious in the sense of dub-con) and a ton of awkward social-justice language, built around multiple two-dimensional characters. I could see a concept worth exploring there, but the execution was poor and I cannot recommend it.

Currently reading: I Capture the Castle because I'm in that kind of mood.

Next up: Probably An American Childhood.

I'm cranky the library has not yet come through with either the new Jemisin or the new Elliott. WTH, library! Gimme!


I'm most of the way through the first season of Wynonna Earp. Cannot say it's awesome: it has not caught me the way the first season of SPN did. But one thing I can say for it is that it has multiple female characters with different personalities, who all have their own roles to play in the plot. The Earp sisters are the most important characters in the show. But I could do without the tired love triangle/competition over Wynonna, and I don't find any of the male characters appealing in the least. They're all assholes, even when they're supposed to be the good guys.

Unless the last few episodes really turn the corner, I won't be watching the next season.

OTOH, Steven Universe is making me so happy.

I may give Stranger Things a try, although really I need to watch the 2nd season of Jane the Virgin.

And courtesy of the "beebs" extension on Chrome, I can watch GBBO as it airs! Plus The Chronicles of Nadiya, which I cannot recommend highly enough. Nadiya goes to Bangladesh to visit her family and cook, and it's pretty awesome.


Aug. 30th, 2016 08:28 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
For future reference, since this is apparently a thing now, thanks, climate change.

do not click on cut if you dislike bugs and/or itches. actually don't click at all )

Izumo & Iwami Ginzan : Quiet.

Aug. 31st, 2016 08:22 am
[personal profile] swaldman
I got up earlyish yesterday morning and backtracked at speed on the now-working railway that I had taken a bus alongside the day before. They do something here that is uncommon in the UK, with long rural railway lines: The local trains trundle along, as they do at home, stopping everywhere and topping out at a max speed of about 60mph. But they are interspersed with expresses, DMUs with tilting bodies that hurtle along the clifftops (it's only about 75mph, but it feels quick) like a sports car in a Bond movie. Only without the explosions. One result is a lessening of the total capacity of the line, I guess, but it wasn't heavily used anyway. And the other result is that a group of lines that would otherwise only be useful for local traffic (because nobody in their right mind would use them end-to-end on the local train) is suddenly a worthwhile long-distance route as well. One of these expresses is how I was supposed to have arrived in Izumo two days ago before everything broke, and another one is how I plan to leave, about two hours from now. Inbetween was yesterday.

After 20 minutes of coast-hurtling, I alighted at a small-town station and swapped to a bus into the hills. Half an hour later, I arrived at the location of an Edo-period silver mining settlement. At its peak there were around 200,000 people working here, but after it ceased working in the ninteenth century it was largely forgotten, until a local schoolteacher in the 1920s and 30s made it his life's work to research the mine and interview the elderly people who remembered how things used to be. Now it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and.... well, considering that, strangely deserted. There were a modest number of Japanese tourists, one pair of Chinese girls, and me. I didn't see any other obvious foreigners in the whole time there. Apparently being a few hours away from the cities and the Shinkansen has that effect. As a result, it was beautifully quiet, and combined with the cool of the trees and the moderate altitude, it was very calming.

The open mine workings are 2.5km from the town, and that 2.5km is a pleasant stroll up a deep, steep-sided wooded valley between two mountains. The path is dotted with shrines, historic houses and monuments, and... holes in the mountainsides. Most of these aren't grand enough to be termed shafts or drifts, and indeed some were only constructed as drainage, but there are apparently over 600 portals into many kilometres of tunnels - many of them only just large enough for a small Japanese person to crawl along. The dark holes with numbered grates over them, some with water trickling out, give just an indication of how the mountains must be riddled.

The actual open drift is pretty much as you'd expect; it's a late one, worked to standardised dimensions at 1.6m high, and one can walk stooped for about 200m into the hillside before a modern tunnel branches off to take one back to the surface again. After wandering through I returned to the town to look for lunch. The town is an attraction in its own right, because most of it doesn't look very different to how it would have looked two hundred years ago. It's not clear to me whether it has been inhabited continuously, or whether it was fully abandoned and then repopulated, but the facades of buildings have been kept "authentic". As a resident of another town that is kept looking as it used to,I feel a little sorry for the locals, but this is a small place that probably only exists for tourism, so... yeah.

On the way home I missed my intended bus, and the next one just missed the express train. That's especially frustrating on a line like this, because first you have to wait an hour for the next train, and then the next train is a local one that takes twice as long to get there...

In the end, although I was tired, I made a trip to the Izumo grand shrine anyway. I paid a rather surprising amount for a short train ride across town, and walked the approach, which was indeed grander and more impressive than other shrines I had visited. Like others, but moreso, there was a wonderful sence of peace and calm, despite being on the outskirts of a busy city. All the publicity about this shrine shows the rooftops, and the reason for this is that ordinary people aren't allowed to see much of the main hall - it's behind a high fence. All one can see is the roof, and so it is this that is famous. It seems like an awful lot of trouble to visit something that one can't see, but it's common at major shrines and accepted, and perhaps when one compares to other religions it isn't all that remarkable.

Fitbit goal check

Aug. 30th, 2016 10:00 pm
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
(Because I know I'm not meeting any of my goals any time soon, but if I take the time to look up the earliest possible date I could, it stops my brain running in circles and me obsessively checking the fitbit history.)
numbers )

I am reaching feeling-overstretched again, and I really need to buckle down and be a study-hermit. (Exam in 13 days, EMA for a different course due in the same day, new course books arriving any minute for the officially-starting-1st-October courses.) I've had three migraines in 16 days, and it's a mixture of overdoing things, struggling in the summer heat, and the perennial favourite of Not Getting Enough Sleep.

The fitbit number I am paying most attention to at the moment is the hours of sleep. It's still too low.

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Basically, it’s the culture, attitudes, comments, and actions that enable sexual assault. Whether it’s victim-blaming, perpetuation of rape myths, attacking survivors, or–

Oh, wait. I have a better idea. Let me show you some of the comments I’ve seen since my article about sexual harassment in SF/F was published over at io9 yesterday.

Content warning for slurs and other garbage.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Chapter 50: And Last

Aug. 30th, 2016 08:33 pm
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
[personal profile] rmc28
It was a fine, clear evening in mid-October, about six weeks later.

[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]

jesse_the_k: Text reads: "I'm great in bed ... I can sleep for days" (sleep for days)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 1991. Early on, I set aside any hope of useful medical treatment: at that point the issue was whether the syndrome was "real" or simply whiny women. I have a glimmer of hope that this research may finally answer that question. (Hoping especially for my UK friends, who have been cruelly treated by their government researchers.)

Full pre-pub paper here http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/08/24/1607571113

Press release from University of California - San Diego. (2016, August 29). Characteristic chemical signature for chronic fatigue syndrome identified: Discovery, along with revealed underlying biology, could lead to faster, more accurate diagnoses and more effective, personalized therapies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160829163253.htm

begin quote
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a mysterious and maddening condition, with no cure or known cause. But researchers, using a variety of techniques to identify and assess targeted metabolites in blood plasma, have identified a characteristic chemical signature for the debilitating ailment and an unexpected underlying biology: It is similar to the state of dauer, and other hypometabolic syndromes like caloric restriction, diapause and hibernation.
end quote

Yay for taxpayer-supported science.

angelofthenorth: (Default)
[personal profile] angelofthenorth
Chapter 20

York Meeting House is an airy, light sort of place, and it was full to capacity. Two wicker coffins stood in the middle, prior to their burial at Rufforth – the instructions had been to plant two trees – a weeping willow for Clara and a Sessile Oak for Cerian.

Jessica had printed sheets explaining how a Quaker Meeting runs – it was an unusual Meeting in that there were two coffins present, but otherwise it would be an hour’s silence and ministry, a waiting on the Spirit for the comfort and prayers She brings to those who grieve, and a time where they could share memories of the two women who had shaped so many lives.

Jessica and the family sat scattered around the room – there were no reserved seats, no ministers, no fulsome eulogies given by someone who didn’t know the deceased. Instead memories were offered of two unique women, united in death as in life.

Jessica herself didn’t speak. She left that to others who spoke of the bridges that the two had built – a common pun on their surnames (Clara Ponti and Cerian Bridges). Bridges from the past to the present, from academia to school, old to young.

Many former students had sent tributes – memories of PhD vivas that Cerian had conducted, or oral examinations that Clara had led. Someone talked of LGBT history, and the changes that had come about in their lifetimes, changes for bad and good, and how they had lived and worked for God’s Praise and Glory.

Talk was there of journeying, of finding the right path at the right time, and of leaving a path when the burden became too great.

Above all was their devotion to one another. One of the Welsh-Italians began to sing some of the old hymns – the love of God, and love of people shone through in words of peace and rest. For all that Quakers don’t usually sing, it was appropriate to Clara’s legacy and as the deep hush descended so a bird outside answered their call through the no man’s land of the city.

angelofthenorth: (Default)
[personal profile] angelofthenorth
Chapter 19

Jessica sat wondering how Clara and Cerian had come by the full story, and then remembered Sr Rosa. She had known Jac as a young woman, newly arrived in Wales, probably getting bread from the bakery for the cafe that the family ran. This hypothesis was confirmed when Jessica turned over the page and found a diagram of who knew whom, how and where. Classic Cerian, to try to make life easier for herself.

The story continued – Jac had tried to volunteer as an ambulance crew member, but been turned down, and had gone through training in how to use the weapons of war. He had been mocked by his superiors for speaking to people in Welsh, the language of home and hearth, rather than English.

At the front Jac had met Tom, a willing conscript by his own admission – he had tried to sign up underage, but had been rumbled. Tom had at first taken him under his wing, but then turned against him when he found out he didn’t want to be there.

Rosa’s account to Cerian told of how Tom had hazed Jac until the trenches when an officer had pulled him to one side and told him to fight the enemy outside now.

Jac was torn. He was told he would be the first over the top to fight in the morning. If he didn’t go over he would be shot at dawn as a traitor. If he went over, he would be shot at dawn by the Germans.

He couldn’t escape. Couldn’t cry. Had no sweetheart to miss him. His brothers were elsewhere on the front and he was far away from home.

So he sang. Brahms Lullaby, words in Welsh, and when he paused he found that the sound had echoed to the german front line, and the words filtered back in German. That they were nearer than the soldiers realised struck fear into many hearts. Tom decided on a daring course of action, to run along the trench, to try and throw a grenade into a bunker and disrupt the German advance that way.

Without asking permission he went. He landed a grenade, but on the return was hit and lay in no man’s land. So Jac, still singing to give himself courage, went to his rescue, dodging barbed wire and search lights.

It cost him his face, and his body – a shell exploded near him as he fell back into the foxhole. But he saved Tom, something that Tom had clearly resented in the warped way that he had. He had rather died a hero than lived a half-life with the echoes of shells and shrapnel, with fits that racked his body, and pain that he could never escape.

Even for those desperate times, neither man could return to the front, and were discharged as medically unfit to Cardiff, where they had met Rosa again. Jac’s bravery was made known by his commanding officer, and he was mentioned in despatches. Tom was also known for his derring-do, and he would boast of it to the nurses. Jac hid his letters under the bed, and downplayed what he had done.

Jac was sent to Lingfield, and Tom back to the Gwendraeth. Rosa carried on nursing and became a nun. Clara made a comment that Rosa had a soft spot for Jac, but that it wasn’t reciprocated in the same way.
After the armistice there had been parades and concerts to celebrate the soldiers return, and to remember the fallen. Tom had attended one, and been lauded, but soon he was forgotten about, left to his own devices and his war pension.

Jac, Rosa had found out, refused to attend, preferring to sing of Calon Lân than old kit bags, and the women from Armentières. In Lingfield he was alone – the bakery his parents ran had closed, there was nowhere for him to go ‘home’ so he lived there, the only Welshman in the village.

Clara’s poems here held echoes of Hedd Wyn’s frustration with the age, and with war. Jac had not bought into the reasons for war, nor accepted the domino run that had ended when he was struck down.

It still didn’t explain their reunion twenty years later as the storms gathered for war once more. Tom had come to Lingfield as his epilepsy had worsened and there was no longer anyone to look after him. Jac had been shaken by the arrival of his old comrade.

Clara had spoken to Tom after Jac had been found dead. Even though she was 16 years younger than him, he had still tried to charm her, and been surprised by her rebuff. He had worked out where their proclivities lay, and it later it came to light that he had been responsible for the brick and other threats.

Clara and Cerian had made a few enquiries and discovered that there had been a row the night of Jac’s death that had been overheard by one of the colony’s children, a simple lad, with poor recognition as to what was going on.

Tom, when confronted had been defiant decrying Jac as a pacifist and a dreamer, and Tom had become dangerous to the point that Clara and Cerian had fled the scene, and taken the first opportunity to leave, that had presented itself when Soeur Marguérite had decided that they would close at the end of term.

Both had taken jobs at Bletchley park as soon as they had passed security clearance, to do ‘their bit’ for the refugees that they were hearing about. Jac had stuck to his pacifist ways, and apparently been killed for it. Tom was gung-ho for war, but had no time for looking after people like himself who had been affected by war. If he could survive, why shouldn’t they.

It was a very jumbled tale, but Rosa had found comfort in it. She had sung at the funeral, a simple arrangment of Brahms Lullaby.

political question

Aug. 30th, 2016 11:33 am
[personal profile] dsgood
Should the US and other countries accept political refugees from Heaven and Hell?
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

So my book Fix is out precisely seven days from now.  If you love the ‘Mancer family, this will be the most harrowing adventure yet.  Because when my publisher Angry Robot asked me if I could write a trilogy, I knew there’d be three stories you can tell about a family:

  • Flex is about a family coming together – Paul meeting Valentine meeting Aliyah.
  • The Flux was about someone malicious trying to split that family up for their own ends.
  • Fix is about what happens when someone altruistic tries to split the family up for the good of the world.

Y’all wanted to see what’s happening in Europe – and when you see how horribly the world is fragmenting in Bastogne, you’ll understand why the Unimancers are hellbent on brainwashing every ‘mancer they can get their hands on.  A recent review said that “{Fix} has the feeling of a series that is growing up, in much the same way that Lord of the Rings started with birthday parties and fireworks but then led to war, this series started out with fun and references but then took us down the road of consequences.”

And I promise you, there is fun and family and donuts – but there’s also what happens when good people get pushed to their far ends.  For every one of you who wrote to me to say, “Paul is too passive in The Flux!  He needs to get out there and protect his daughter!”, I will say to you:

Be careful what you wish for.

Anyway, it’s for sale in a week.  As always, preorders help authors, so if you wanna order it now, yeah, that’d be great.

And I will be in Boston this weekend, which I will remind you of once more on Friday and then fall silent, because I suspect a lot of people in Boston don’t know I’m coming this Sunday because a) it was a late addition and b) it’s Labor Day Weekend.  But I will be driving many miles to see you all!  I’ll bring donuts!

And of course, there’s always the Cleveland release party.  And the whole West Coast tour.  But regardless, books are out, I’m exhausted after spending thirty hours (yes, thirty goddamned hours) last week polishing up my new book so it can go out on submission before the 2016 holiday rush starts, and I hope y’all like what I did.

Now I’m gonna collapse and send love to all of you.  It’s what I do.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

O dear O dear

Aug. 30th, 2016 01:50 pm
oursin: Text, nits, for picking of, lettered onto image of antique nitcomb from the Science Museum (nitcomb)
[personal profile] oursin

In today's Guardian G2, 40 films to watch in autumn 2016.

There may be more bloopers, but I particularly cringed at these two:

Perhaps more a curiosity than a must-see as a dubbed Ralph Fiennes stars as the spurned lover in a lush, daft Russian-language adaptation of Ivan Turgenev’s A Month in the Country.
(I note that someone has corrected this in the online version - the print version omits Turgenev's authorship and I strongly suspect it was initially supposed that it was a remake of this, based on a novel by J L Carr, which has something of a cult status. Otherwise I am not sure how one makes a 'daft Russian-language adaptation' of a classic work of Russian literature.)
The Magnificent Seven
Seven mercenaries take on the job of protecting a small town from a meanie industrialist in Antoine Fuqua’s reload of the John Sturges classic.
Which was, as (surely, eny fule no that no anything about movies), itself ripped off from modeled on Kurosawa's epic The Seven Samurai, sigh.

Interesting Links for 30-08-2016

Aug. 30th, 2016 12:00 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker

(no subject)

Aug. 30th, 2016 10:59 am
legionseagle: (Default)
[personal profile] legionseagle
Happy birthday [personal profile] antisoppist!


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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