Velveteen vs The Seasons, Seanan McGuire
Surviving the previous two Velveteen books has left Velma Martinez, aka superhero Velveteen, seriously indebted to the anthropomorphic personifications of Winter, Spring, and Autumn, and it's time to pay up. Vel is committed to spend one season in the Seasonal Lands with each of the three seasons, and at the end choose whether to move to one permanently, becoming one of its personifications, or return to the Calendar lands (aka Earth).
Being in debt to Santa Claus may not sound too harsh, after all it's Santa, and one of Vel's best friends is his daughter Jackie. But the big man isn't the only power in Winter, there's Jack Frost and the Snow Queen, Jackie's true parents, and there are powers yet un-named, and the seasons have been putting on their best faces for Vel when she visits, Being tested by the seasons is an altogether harsher process. One she isn't guaranteed to survive.And if Vel makes it out of Winter, there's still Spring, the season of destructive rebirth, and Autumn, the season of Halloween, to face
Like McGuire's Indexing series, the Velveteen series is structured as a chain of linked short stories, each entitled 'Velveteen vs'. Threats this time include "Hypothermia", "Santa Claus", "Spring Cleaning", and "The Consequences of Her Actions" amongst others. Scattered in among them are a handful of "Velveteen Presents" chapters as the friends Vel left behind deal with the aftermath of bringing down The Super Patriots Inc.
The theme here really is the consequences of her actions, for both Vel and her friends. The Velveteen books have always been darker than they sound, but this time the gloves are off, and not everyone will make it to the end of the story.
Velveteen vs the Seasons has what looks like a rather gaudy cover at first, but it's worth a second look when you're done. I didn't realise it at first, but all four women are actually Vel.
Definitely one to pick up from the earlier books if you haven't read them, with the stories from Book 1, Velveteen Vs the Junior Super Patriots Inc available on Seanan's site. There's a note there saying the ebook versions of both it and Velveteen vs the Multiverse are out of print for contractual reasons :(
A Red Rose Chain, Seanan McGuire
The ninth Toby Day book opens with Toby reporting her latest bit of heroing to Good Queen Arden, newly restored to the throne of San Francisco's fae Kingdom of the Mists, only to be interrupted by having the body of Arden's chancellor, Madden, dumped on them. This isn't an assassination, Madden isn't dead, he's been elf-shot to sleep for 100 years, it's a declaration of war. A century ago, Mists, under the usurper queen Toby recently deposed, fought a war against the neighbouring Kingdom of Silences, won and installed a puppet monarch, Rhys. Now Rhys wants Mists restored to it's 'rightful' queen, or it's war.
Dealing with Arden's initial panic requires Toby to get a little physical with her monarch, so when Arden needs a 'volunteer' for Ambassador to try and stop all this happening, guess who is first in line. Of course Toby isn't known for her diplomacy, she's much happier hitting things.
So it's Toby, her fiance Tybalt, King of Cats, her squire Quentin and her wierd sister May off to Silences. But with Silences slinging elf shot about, she needs an alchemist for her team, so poor chemistry professor Walter gets dragged out of his lab again. Only poor Walter turns out have been hiding things, such as being from Silences. He's not quite a hidden prince, but he's close.
Silences is a nightmare. Rhys isn't just a puppet of the usurper, he's a pure blood fanatic, and Toby isn't pure blood. She might be more fae than she started out, but she's still a part human changeling, with changeling vulnerabilities. Rhys's game isn't kill the ambassador, but nothing else is off the table (and in fact most of the attacks take place at table). And if the situation is bad for Toby, it's far worse for the changelings stuck permanently in Rhys's court.
There's no hope of bringing Rhys round, not when he's both fanatic and a puppet of the usurper, but Toby tries to stay on the diplomatic path, at least while the threats are directed solely at her. But when they stray to her friends and family the gloves come off, and this is a woman who has already brought one monarchy tumbling down. Her friends just wish she wouldn't bleed quite so much while she's doing it.
This is another solid entry in the series, there's not really any sense of where the series as a whole is going, but Toby is continuing to grow into her power, and there's a sense of every ball that's been tossed in the air still continuing on its arc. About the only thing missing this time is the Luidaeg, Toby's scary monster of an aunt, who only appears offscreen via a couple of telephone calls. But one thing is certain, the consequences of what happened in Silences are going to rattle through Mists too, and probably all of the fae kingdoms.
Red Rose Chain also has a cover that repays another look once finished. It's very subdued, but there's a wonderful amount of referencing to key elements of the story.
Defying Doomsday, ed Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench
An anthology of stories of disabled and chronically ill folk surviving doomsday. I've started with Corinne Duyvis' "And the Rest of Us Wait," with a teenaged Latvian one-time pop-idol and her family waiting out a comet impact in a Dutch public bunker, a situation complicated by her spina bifida. I love Iveta's voice, and Duyvis (who is autistic rather than physically disabled) seems to have done a good job of her research. Iveta and I seem to have roughly equivalent levels of mobility and it seems very well done to me.
The Amazing Adventures of Van Helsing
Picked up in the Steam sale for £5.20, including all three DLC sets. I'd call this a Rogue-Like, I've also seen it called a Diablo-like, but I've never played Diablo. It's a RPG/shoot-em-up in which Van Helsing and his faithful companion Kristina (who's a ghost) are called to Borgovia, home of things that go bump in the night, which is suffering an outbreak of steampunk. The objective is basically kill anything that moves, while fulfilling various missions. Presentation is basically 3d isometric, but the 3d is somewhat wasted as you can't really see the detail that's there if you zoom in. It might be better on a large screen, I'm playing on my laptop at the minute, but there tends to be a lot on screen.
It's very frenetic, but if I can manage it with my dyspraxic coordination it should be accessible to most people. About the only problem with the game is that Katrina is very cliched. Expect to be annoyed.
If you're playing in Win 10 you need to kill one of the minor Windows services or it will crash after 15 minutes (you can google that on the Steam forums), but apart from that it seems pretty reliable.
I wouldn't have paid full price for it, but for a fiver it's good value.
A reader named Romy alerted me to the Harry Potter Alliance, bringing fans together for good causes. Here are just a few of their accomplishments over the past decade or so, from their website:
- A partnership with Walk Free that engaged over 400,000 fans and resulted in Warner Bros. changing the sourcing of their Harry Potter chocolate to be 100% UTZ or Fairtrade.
- Raising over $123,000 for Partners In Health and sending five cargo planes of life-saving supplies to Haiti.
- Donations of over 250,000 books across the world through HPA’s Accio Books campaign.
I’m particularly enchanted by the annual Accio Books campaign. And I love that the different houses compete to see which can collect the most books. (Ravenclaw was the winner last year, which seems appropriate somehow.) The whole thing just sounds like fun, collaborative work to make the world a better place.
J. K. Rowling herself has spoken about the group, saying, “I am honoured and humbled that Harry’s name has been given to such an extraordinary campaign, which really does exemplify the values for which Dumbledore’s Army fought in the books.”
I love seeing fans come together like this. I love the hope and the optimism … and I’m always happy to see how stories can inspire people to change the world for the better.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
I spent a day during my break with a friend and we went over the alpha version the French story. I have rewrites to do. I started last week. Only 9 chapters to go.
It's warm and heavy outside. I am grateful that my dad installed the air conditioner a few weeks back.
PokemonGo. All three libraries are Pokestops. One has an arena right outside. It's fun to see parents coming in with their kids, sit and chase Pokemon in the library. So far, we haven't had any problems.
My rewatching Bones from the beginning for reasons. I pulled out the first two seasons DVD sets from a box. It's good background noise while I knit and relax. Zach is still my favourite.
Inbox (Books acquired)
Ann Leckie's Ancillary Mercy was on sale. So was Upton Sinclair's Between Two Worlds.
A few romance novels that were also on sale : Julie James' Suddenly One Summer. James is a good contemporary romance author. I've been waiting for a year for this one to come on sale. Marissa Clarke's Chance of a Lifetime RiTA Nominee 2016, with a blind heroine. Love on My Mind by Tracey Livesay. Geek hero. Katie Ashley's The Proposition, Free New Adult. Could be good, could be awful. Claire Boston's Break The Rules
Kristen Proby's Listen to Me. That one has been on my alert list for a while. The price got down to 1.99$. This was a rec from Smartbitches.
Amy Jo Cousins' Off Campus. A 99 cents m/m romance. Looks like a New Adult m/m. Laura Florand's Chase Me came down to an acceptable price.
E-Comics: The usual DC Bombshells issues, the new Poe Dameron and two Birds of Prey.
Outbox (Books finished)
Birds of Prey. V.1 and V.2 Chuck Dixon's original run. Also Dixon's Canary/Oracle : Birds of Prey V.1 All three were interesting and engaging. It's set in the late 1990s and it shows but it didn't really bother me. I'm looking forward to the next volume. They are reissuing the Dixon series. I'm hoping V.3 comes sometimes this fall.
Poe Dameron issue #4. Really good. I am looking forward to each new monthly issue. In this one, Poe goes to prison, you have Hutts and returning nemesis.
In the Queue (Books I'm reading now)
Jed Perl's New Art City : Manhattan at Mid-Century. I haven't touch it in a while. I will get back to it.
Hamilton : The Revolution. Lin Manuel Miranda. This is the libretto of the musical with added notes, texts. You read while listening to the cast album. I'm in act two and well... I'm up to Washington On Your Side. I expect tears when I get to It's Quiet Uptown.
Laura Brown's Signs of Attraction. New Adult with a twist. Both leads are either deaf or hard of hearing. It's surprisingly good. The New Adult is not in your face. Both leads are interesting and the story is engaging.
You see, when you're a PhD at ETH, there is apparently this thing called a 'Proposal Defence'. Before getting into ETH, I had never heard of it, as it is not common in the Netherlands. The proposal defence is one of the two major deadlines during your PhD (the other being the defence of your actual thesis): before the first year is up (but at the end of your first year), you have to present your 'proposal' for the rest of your PhD to the committee. In order to make it appealing, a mere schedule and some vague plans are not enough: you basically have to show everything you have done so far (or generate results very quickly), and give a very detailed plan, including methods, time estimation, etc. This is also one of the most likely stages where you could potentially get fired. After this, you are pretty safe. So: it's a big deal.
Needless to say, when the date for your proposal defence comes nearer and nearer you realise more and more that you actually do not have enough results to fill the 'approximately' 10 pages report. So, you go into panic mode and work. At least, that is what I did. I sacrificed a total of 3 weekends (farewell!) and worked more hours than usual during the week, although I did not work crazy hours: I know I'm not productive when I try that. In the end, I did have a report of 37 pages and some (nice?) results, so I guess it was worth it? In any case, the committee let me pass (after a discussion/question round, which made me sweat a lot. I know they should ask me things, but it was nerve-racking.. )
My proposal defence was July 11, 2016 and I started really working on it (or rather: generating the results) somewhere in May. Busy times.
Unfortunately, these two months of work coincided with a lot of travel (most of them work related), so I was (and still am) a bit knackered.
To get over this, I am going on a (well-deserved) holiday soon to ... *wait for it* ... Japan! Not sure if I'll be completely rested afterwards, but it should be at least very awesome.
Before I will post pictures of Japan though, I wanted to share my recent (work-related) trips with you.
The first trip (which was just for fun, not work) was Tatort Jungfrau during the Pentecost weekend: a detective game in the Swiss Alps (Jungfrau region), where you have to find clues located everywhere in the area. It was a fun way of discovering one of Switzerland's most beautiful scenery.
Snowy landscapes at Kleine Scheidegg
( Click here if you want more pictures )
Next trip I will tell you about is the PhD retreat in the black forest in Germany. Stay tuned!
This was the first recording I'd attended that wasn't at Broadcasting House. It was in the Shaw Theatre, between Euston and Kings Cross stations, and it has greater capacity than Broadcasting House. Unfortunately, it isn't air-conditioned. It was also packed full, because "Just a Minute" is a cultural institution and is still very popular. Nicholas Parsons has been hosting the show for almost fifty years, and the adulation he received at the start and end of the recording made it practically impossible to hear his greetings and farewell.
We had a little unintentional pre-show entertainment. The ticketing system works thus: You turn up an hour before the doors open, present your ticket and are given a sticker with a number on it. When the doors open, the production guests (wearing wristbands) file in first, and then the ticket holders are allowed entry in groups of fifty. It all works in quite a civilised fashion despite the crush in the lobby, because British people love queuing.
However, once we'd (nearly) all sat down, it became evident that there'd been some sort of cock-up involving the seating of the production guests. Four people wearing viridescent wristbands were stood at the front, looking up at the full rows of seats with evident displeasure. One was a blonde woman in a white jacket with a formidable aspect. I should not like to have been the young production assistant attempting to mollify her and receiving the pointy end of said displeasure. Hands were waved about. The small number of solitary seats scattered about the theatre were indicated and obviously rejected. Eventually, some audience members were convinced to shift around slightly to permit the foursome to sit in pairs on opposite sides of the theatre.
This had all taken a good ten minutes, by which point the ostensible start time of the recording had passed. The drama had now attracted the attention of literally every person in the audience. When the formidable woman sat down, the entire theatre broke into a cheer. She stood up a few seconds later to hand her empty drink cup (two will get you seven that it was a large gin and tonic) to a frazzled usher. The audience booed. Unfased, she turned around, smiled beautifully and resumed her seat gracefully. I was impressed, as I suspect most of the rest of the audience would have died of embarrassment right then.
It was not until the very end of the show when Nicholas Parsons was bidding us farewell that we had the measure of what had transpired. "If," he said, with a twinkle in his eye "you happen to run across the fellow who tore the sign reading 'Reserved for Nicholas Parson's wife' off the seats in the front..." He made a small, meaningful gesture with his cane.
The four panelists were Paul Merton, Tony Hawks, Zoë Lyons and Julian Clary. I shall say no more of the two very funny shows that were recorded, but I think I can safely share another pre-recording anecdote. Nicholas Parsons asked each panelist to speak into their microphone for the sake of the sound engineer at the back. Not one to pass up an opportunity for innuendo, Julian Clary put on his most deliberately camp voice and said, "Hello, David, are you receiving me in the rear?" Nicholas Parsons: "Yes, I think so. Poor David. He can't hear anything now."
After departing the Shaw, I arrived at my place of sleep around 22:30. I walked in the door and was greeted by the smell of freshly baked apple & rhubarb crumble and vanilla custard heating on the hob. A whisky glass was placed in my hand and unopened bottles of Lagavulin and Scapa presented upon the kitchen island for my perusal and selection.
Sometimes, I am a very lucky Nanila indeed.
What I read
Finished The Merrill Theory of Lit'ry Criticism, and I think my comments last week still apply. I do wonder whether rather more editorial selection might have cut down on repetition; also perhaps a little more copy-editing (a number of what looked like OCR bloopers and a few other oddities) would have been beneficial.
Marcia Muller, Someone Always Knows (Sharon McCone no 31) (2016). These hold up better than certain other series that started around the same time. Also the related short story, Tell Me Who I Am (2016).
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Alliance of Equals (2016). The ongoing Liadenverse soap opera, pretty much.
On the go
Book for review, which is very good overview by doyen in the field; if a bit kinder to one much-cited work than I would be, points out the problems with a recent work that got puffed as epochmaking and I thought, not so much.
Work by person I am doing a Dictionary of National Biography entry for, socialist theory c. 1920, depressing how much still seems relevant.
Recently started, Tracy Daugherty, The Last Love Song: a biography of Joan Didion (2015) - picked up from the sale shelves in local bookshop. Am still a bit hmm about the 'biography of living author who did not cooperate', and sometimes the writing seems a bit precious, but the general tenor has not yet activated the 'not a book to set aside lightly' reaction, even if there is a bit of 'my research, I show u it, even when it is totally peripheral'.
Have another book for review on the way.
Read: More Seanan shorts. Now I've read all the free Incryptid shorts.
Reading: the Long Cosmos by Baxter and Prattchet. Turns out they wrote these much faster than they could publish, and this was really co-written with PTerry not just following on from a joint idea. So it is, I guess, his last book. Sadness. So far, so good, a lot of the same as the other Long Earth books. Don't start here.
On Monday, I posted my essay “Oh, For Fuck’s Sake: A Gentle Talk With My Republican, Democrat, And Undecided Friends.” By this morning, it’s up to 24,000 Facebook “likes” in a viral politigasm.
Which is weird. I’ve gone viral before, most notably for my essays “Dear Daughter: I Hope You Have Awesome Sex” and “Can I Buy You A Coffee?” And I’ve found that those who haven’t gone viral have the wrong impressions about how this works, so let’s bust a few impressions:
1) You Don’t Get Famous. The Essay Does.
The next day, I wrote a followup to the “For Fuck’s Sake” essay called “Why Your Presidential Protest Vote Is A Wretched Idea,” and as of now that essay’s got 170 likes on Facebook total.
That demonstrates that when you go viral, 99.9% of the people show up for that essay, read, and leave. Hardly anyone goes, “Oh, I’ll read what else this fellow had to say!” and proceeds to trawl your blog. You’re a one-stop entertainment, worthy because someone’s friends linked them there, and then you go.
It’s nice to have that level of attention for a while, but people tend to think, “Oh, you’re famous!” No. That essay has been widely read. I doubt most of its readers could pick me out of a lineup.
2) A Viral Post Doesn’t Sell Your Books.
You may note I have my three books for sale, and I didn’t notice any significant bump in sales on the Amazon sales rankings. (Well, okay, I saw a bump, but that’s because my book Flex is on sale for $2.99 this week.) Again, people liked what I had to say, but most of them ghosted afterwards. Which is normal. (And fine with me. I don’t write essays to sell books, as a rule.)
Now, sometimes, if a post blows up huge, you’ll get offers related to that post. When “Dear Daughter” passed half a million likes – still my high-water mark! – on the Good Men Project and the Huffington post, I got an agent asking me if I wanted to turn that essay into a book, because they had a publisher who’d expressed interest. I told them “No, but I have this novel” and they went, “Nah” and disappeared.
3) …But It Kinda Does.
If you’re looking to sell books, blogging is the long con.
See, when I published my webcomic “Home on the Strange,” I noticed a weird pattern: I’d have a huge hit, with 10,000 people linking to our Doctor-Who-As-Jesus strip or our alternate ending to Harry Potter, and then the next comic would be bare-bones normal in terms of traffic.
But the overall numbers kept creeping up.
Eventually, I came up with my “Pepsi machine” theory – which is to say that a fan is like a big, cumbersome Pepsi machine that you’re looking to tip over. Hardly anyone tips over a Pepsi machine in one muscular push. No, you gotta rock them, a little at a time, until eventually they sorta wobble over.
Likewise, most people – me included! – have established habits. I hit the same six webcomics every morning. Adding a new webcomic to my list? For no apparent reason, that seems like an effort. But if a webcomic keeps getting linked to by my friends, with each visit I’ll think, “Oh, I should come here more often!” and then I don’t.
Eventually, I accrete enough good will that all right, I’ll add this to my regular trawl, and suddenly I’m a fan.
Likewise, I have a lot of fans (comparative to the normal person, not at all comparative to a true celebrity), but they’ve all arrived in dribs and drabs; some liked Home on the Strange, others liked my essays, others liked my books. Most of them had to see me around a lot before they eventually started reading me regularly, for whatever definition of “regularly” counts.
I’m not going to have 24,000 fans tomorrow. But I’ll probably walk away from this with maybe fifty people who now read me regularly. Maybe five will read my book, maybe two will like it enough to recommend it to other people.
That’s actually a decent ratio.
Which is why I wouldn’t recommend this method if you don’t actually enjoy blogging. It works, but it’s like panning for gold; lots of time knee-deep in mud, a few flecks.
Better enjoy the outdoors.
4) Hardly Anyone Knows What Goes Viral.
There’s a couple of people who know how to go viral easily – I see Chuck Wendig churning out essays once a month that everyone seems to link to, and I go, “Man, even accounting for his larger audience, that guy knows how to connect.”
The rest of us have no idea what connects, or why.
Look. “Dear Daughter” was an angry essay I wrote in fifteen minutes on my lunch hour, and that writing will probably be referenced in my obituary. “For Fuck’s Sake” was a Sunday evening writing which I put a lot of thought into, but I’ve written a lot of thoughtful pieces and I still don’t quite know why that one took off.
I just write a lot, and about once every eighteen months, one catches fire. And I assure you, if I knew how to craft essays that consistently drew 24,000 Facebook “likes,” I would. Even now, I have no clue why that “For Fuck’s Sake” essay launched into the stratosphere versus my usual political rantings – it feels about the same to me, but it resonated with others.
Every so often on FetLife, some moe without an audience will get a wild hair up their ass, belligerently bumping chests with people who do have an audience to say, “Why don’tcha write an essay anonymously, HANH? Why don’tcha prove that it’s the WORDS that make you popular, but your AUDIENCE?”
Well, first off, why the fuck do you think my audience – such as it is – sticks around? Because I’m writing things they think are shitty? Come on.
But secondly, if you think “writing an essay” is “one shot, one kill,” then you’re wrong. I’ve written probably ten thousand essays. Of them, three have gone viral enough to spread across the Internet. The Venn diagram between “What I consider quality” and “What resonates with people” is a mystery indeed.
Oh, I’m confident that if I wrote a lot of essays under a pseudonym, I’d eventually regain my current levels of notoriety. But expecting one essay to be as popular as, say, “Dear Daughter”?
The only person who could say that is someone who doesn’t fucking write.
5) Your Reputation Sticks With You, Though.
As mentioned, maybe people couldn’t pick you out of a lineup, but they get a rough impression about who you are. There’s a lot of people who don’t read me who know that I’m loudly polyamorous and sex-positive, I’m left-of-center even though I’d like to be considered center, that I’m depressive and occasionally psychodramatic.
Lots of people really don’t like me for any of those.
So when I meet people at conventions, I sometimes have folks doing the stop-and-stare moment of “Do I want to talk to this asshole?” They have formed an opinion of me from my writings, and they do not like me. Sometimes they make excuses and GTFO.
Which is why I’m always baffled when people are like, “Oh, Ferrett just makes up shit to start controversy!” No, man. I get enough side-eye for the things I believe. There are real-world consequences to my writing, and as a dude with social anxiety I assure you I feel every one.
There are doubtlessly people who do start up controversies for “fun” – I’ve met them, scrappy assholes who want to start “a feud” to “get traffic” – and they’re usually people with small audiences. And I wonder whether they’re so enthused over these mock-fights because they’re never planning on going out in public where their rep is attached to their face. And after a couple of thoroughly faked essays, I wonder if they’ve lost any friends.
But me? I put my face and my books on these essays, because if one goes viral and I wind up getting shit on by a thousand people for some opinion I’ve opined, I want that shit to be from people I actually don’t like. I’ve got enthusiastic Trump supporters leaving insulting comments, but hey, I’m okay pissing off those people.
Like I said: most people can’t tell what’s going to be a hit or not. So pretending to be an asshole in the hopes that someone pays attention to you? Seems like small pay for idiotic work. You probably won’t go viral, but you’ll have real-life people who read you – if you have real-life people – believing you’re either a genuine asshole, or a manipulative fake asshole, and I’m not sure what’s worse.
You may think I’m an asshole, but at least it’s for things I believe.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
I recently got one of those phone cases with slots to keep cards in it, in a bid to not lose my travel pass again. I actually got it two weeks ago, after temporarily losing my pass in my bedroom, and it was the process of looking for the pass to put it into the phone case a few days later that I realised I'd lost the pass more permanently…
For the last two or three days, just the last few days, a notification sound has been intermittently bugging the hell out of me - familiar, but not familiar enough that I could identify it. It never generated a message in the notification shade, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was.
Until a moment ago, when I slipped my contactless debit card back into one of the card slots, which at the time was folded back against the back of the phone, and my phone made the noise again.
Now, I've had my debit card in the phone case for the whole time I've been using the case, barring times when I'm actually using the card, because my travel pass uses similar technology and card readers tend to get confused if they get signals from both at once - but remember: this noise has only been happening for two or three days. (But it happens every 5-10 minutes when I'm using my phone, which is a lot, so it's been driving me UP THE FUCKING WALL.)
Anyway. The sound. The sound, it turns out, is the sound my phone makes when it thinks I'm trying to do something with NFC, but it hasn't been able to read the NFC thing properly.
WHY ISN'T THERE A NOTIFICATION FOR THIS? Why is there no written message saying "Sorry, that failed, please try again"?!
This has been annoying me for DAYS and it could have been SO EASILY solved if only there was something other than a *biddlyboop* that means ABSOLUTELY FUCK ALL except that my phone made an unidentified noise. FFS.
Oh, yeah, and *biddlyboop* does not sound like an error tone. Where's the doom and gloom? It doesn't sound like something went wrong, it sounds CHEERFUL.
So. My debit card is now back in my wallet. And I have a small request for software/UX/whatever designers: please, for the love of cake, if you want to tell me about an error, please, YOU NEED TO ACTUALLY TELL ME ABOUT IT. A notification to say "That didn't work". (What if my phone was on silent, for one thing?)
The cheerful sound I can cope with. Really, that's not a big deal. Except when it is your ONLY means of telling me "computer says no", in which case: DON'T DO THAT.
I'm not a UI expert, I admit, but seriously, is this not obvious?!
After the doctor.
My sleep schedule has been fucked up lately, a little more than usual. But I managed to get enough sleep in two chunks so that when morning-ish hit, I was vaguely well-rested, if rather more inclined to get chatty about stuff on IM than usual.
I can recommend tunic-length loose tops for ultrasounds where you don't have to take your shirt off. They give you a modicum of body-modesty that doesn't involve juggling a drape.
( Read more... )
The imaging techs don't get to discuss any of your results with you. That's for the doctors. So I was absent any more practical information about what was going on, but slightly less physically comfortable due to some of the joysticking about in my nethers.
I had changed back, left the department, and was nearly in the bathroom when my phone started ringing. It was an unfamiliar number, but also a 602 number, and so I answered it.
It was Dawn! I had kept trying to get in touch with her, but her phone kept going straight to voicemail, so I'd finally resorted to leaving a message on Facebook, where there were signs of life.
She had bad news. She'd intended to call me last night, but there had been a death in the family. I told her my two big items of news. And now I have her new number.
My phone has been chewing through battery unfortunately quickly lately, but I called norabombay anyway, and we chattered about things. Then I picked up a new showerhead and some teflon tape at Home Depot, and came home.
I'm having a bit of a hard time this week, and I don't think it's going to get much easier until sometime late next week, at which point it will be differently hard.
Purple and I discussed dinner, but he was kind of stressed (presentation, and he hates making slides) and tired, and I was just drained, so we called a pass. Tomorrow, maybe.
For the past couple days I'd not been using the bouncyball as my desk chair, and the lack of motion had been beginning to get to me. I've noticed that in part due to the bouncyball, stairs have been easier for me when I've had to encounter them! This is good, and I will continue to watch for improvements.
Purple continues to be a voice of reason to me on a good many issues, and I deeply appreciate it. He also refuses to serve as chaperone. "In my day you couldn't even talk while dating!"
I had an interesting conversation about preferences in smut with more than one friend, more or less simultaneously. The juxtaposition was amusing. ( Read more... )
After that entertaining conversation, it was just about time for bed, at which point I remembered that I needed to fix the shower.
Fortunately, unscrewing everything, applying new teflon tape, and screwing it back together proved to fix all of the things. I could wish for such an easy fix on many more. I guess I take the unneeded new shower head back to Home Depot in tomorrow's errands or something.
I sent her links to Wait For It and The Room Where It Happens. I wonder whether the infatuation will take hold.
But I'll be happy to contribute! Will be posting some tips and tricks and charts there, methinks; can't imagine that the majority of folks reading this journal are interested in the details of how exactly to evolve your Wartortle, or how to effectively stack a Pokémon Gym with your squad and no other Team around, or how to level up on your own like there's no tomorrow.
I don't, of course, because that would be very presumptuous over both their attention and their speaking English.
And I'm also doing daily Toast Retrospectives, looking back at what the Toast published three years ago each day, over at the ToastCrumbs subreddit.
Crows. They are noisy, ubiquitous, a bit shabby this time over year, but also dramatic, lively, and amazing to watch in flight.
Yards full of flowers. I am not sure it is technically possible for me to be specific, as my impression of the particular yard that I have in mind is "they have one or more of everything, including some stuff I've never seen before." But one I can identify is spiky blue flowers in genus Echinops, probably sp. ritro, known as globe thistles. They have silver-blue flower centers that look like curled-up hedgehogs!
noms, school job under cut: ( Read more... )
Plus it was Heat Wave Time so as soon as I get home from work I just want to melt into a 2-dimensional puddle with maximum heat-shedding surface area. Will I get four cosplays finished in the next two days? Stay tuned!
Anyway one of the panels I'm doing at con.txt is for AO3 tips & tricks, so, circle mine, what useful thing about the AO3 do you think I should share (ways to use the archive, docs or help resources, external tools, etc.)
sun-burnt and sunflower-bearing
word-dry of drafting
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Fourth of Duane's Young Wizards series. I guess I could talk about what the dilemma is, but I feel that is part of the thing that makes the book what it is, the experience of exploring the title.
Anyway, there's at least one dilemma, possibly more, answered in one or more ways. There's heavy stuff and I would not say that it is clear that the book has a happy ending, even if it's not quite as sad as it could possibly have been.
All in all, eminently readable, even if I would not file it under "happy, shiny, innocent fun".
Another of those pieces about getting a jump on the next day by eating into the day you're actually in -
- which sounds a bit Carrollian, though I'm not sure whether it's the Red Queen running to stay in the same spot, or the White Queen crying out before she was hurt -
Maybe it's just me, but I think there's a distinction between having your clothes laid out ready for the morning and your bag packed ready for whatever you're going to need in the course of the day, and spending part of your presumably non-work, leisure hours fretting over work.
I suppose this does depend a bit on what sort of a job you do, but in some cases I would anticipate that starting thinking about the morrow would be likely to cause massive insomnia, which would surely be counter-productive.
It can't be browser settings re: external images, because monksandbones sees the RSS feed images fine and they have the same source.
Meanwhile, *I* have no trouble seeing them from my reading page. I got kayloulee to check, and she also has no problem seeing the pre-doughnut photos. It can't even be freak hemisphere-based image problems, as both Jamethiel and K are in Aus.
Can I ask if any of you are subscribed to copperbadge on DW, and if so, do you see images on HIS crossposts?§
If for some reason you have not read my book Flex – which features snortable magic drugs, a paperwork magician who turns his filing cabinet into an FBI hacking device, and a chubby videogamemancer who enjoys pegging – then you can get it at Barnes and Noble for $2.99 this week!
(NOTE: Amazon usually matches B&N’s prices, but I’m not checking there because B&N instigated this sale, and you should throw ’em the cash if you’ve got a Nook. But wherever you buy it is good.)
As an extra-special reminder, the finale to the ‘Mancer trilogy is coming out in six weeks, and you can preorder Fix. (In fact, if you want to support an author, you should always preorder their books.) If you’re a fan of the series, @Gaileyfrey Twitter-reviewed it last night, and she had this to say:
Y’all have read FLEX and FLUX right
Hell yeah you have, you love great speculative fiction
WELL FERRETT DID IT AGODDAMNGAIN with FIX
Here’s what I will tell you: BADASS SUPERMAGIC TWEEN GIRL ON A MISSION TO FIND HERSELF AND SAVE THE WORLD AND SAVE HER FAMILY
I’m just going to be over here changing how I write young characters because @ferretthimself RUINED IT by showing how BEST to write a tween
[grumping] like it wasn’t bad enough he schooled us all in worldbuilding now he’s gotta go and raise the bar for young female characters too
TL;DR: – @ferretthimself is a jerk – go preorder FIX immediately
I’ll be a jerk for that. So in short:
- If you haven’t read Flex yet, you can get ahead of the impending sequel at a cheap price by going to Barnes and Noble now.
- If you have read Flex and you want to know what happens to everybody in the series – because everyone gets an ending – then go pre-order Fix now.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
Pop Quiz: What do you think when I say “President Bill Clinton”?
All right, your first thought is probably “the bawdy things you can do with a cigar.” (Ah, Billy.) But then your mind likely wanders to Clinton’s Presidential accomplishments; if you’re a conservative, you fret at all the damage he did, if you’re a liberal you think of the economic prosperity he wrought. Eight years in office is a long time.
Now: How many of you thought of Bill Clinton and thought, “He was elected because voters were sick of the two-party system?”
Ah, but that’s arguably true! People forget that Ross Perot was the third-party candidate in that election, acquiring 18.9% of the popular vote – more than any independent candidate in modern history. And while mostly Perot held relatively even support between conservatives and liberals, conventional wisdom is that Perot siphoned away votes away from Bush – the first Bush – to help tilt the race in Clinton’s favor.*
Did you remember that?
Or did you remember “EIGHT YEARS OF DEMOCRAT IN OFFICE”?
See, that’s the problem with Presidential protest voting. You think you’re sending a message, but the guy who wins the Presidency hears “I won, I get to do what I think is best.” The guy who loses maybe hears a message, but that guy lost. And after two years of President-in-office, all those Presidential protest votes evaporate in people’s memories to become, well, another Democrat or a Republican won.
Note that I’m saying Presidential protest votes. Because here’s the thing: if you want to make legitimate change in what is and has always been a corrupt system, placing a single vote in the ultimate winner-take-all race is the worst fucking idea ever.
You want to change that system because it’s corrupt or nonrepresentative or what-have-you? Well, there’s a sliding scale here:
Voting in Presidential races to change the two-party system? You might as well poop your vote onto toilet paper.
Voting in Congressional races? Better. You have a chance of being heard.
Voting in midterm Congressional races? Now you’re getting golden. Midterm races are where only the ancient and entrenched vote, and a fresh face showing up when there’s not the Presidential dog-and-pony-race has an actual chance at producing change.
Writing letters and emails to Congressmen while they’re still in office, telling them what you will or will not support? Oh, you’re approaching the beatifics now, my friends. The truth is that most corruption isn’t actually hidden. It’s out in the open. We all know how much the NRA is paying politicians, we know how much the Koch brothers are pouring into races. But no one cares. If you care, well, that’s one politician who has to worry about losing your vote.
Voting smartly for local candidates? Oh my God, that’s right, your state governor and mayor and other officials exist, and chances are really good a few hundred votes can make a difference. Hell, mayors have gotten flung out of office because some old fart didn’t like the way the trash collectors left their cans on the lawn and mounted a crusade, so if you want to make a change, hey, start here.
And the absolute thing that will guarantee a change insofar as any one person can make a change?
Volunteer. Get out there and canvas. Get the local politicians indebted to you. Get voters on your side.
That’s how you make a difference.
I’m not saying not to vote in the Presidential elections. I am saying that the Presidential elections are the accumulated corruption of literally the entire country funneled through an avalanche of votes, and if you think you can change the system by showing up once every four years and spending ten minutes standing in line, then fuck are you egotistic.
Look, if you’re a disenfranchised Democrat who was disappointed with what Obama could accomplish, let Samantha Bee remind you how the 2010 election – where you young spitfire Democrats didn’t show up – completely fucked Obama by ushering in a new tide of crazies:
If you think you’re “fighting corruption” and “sending a message” by one third-party vote in the biggest campaign ever and then going home for half a decade, you done fucked up. Because the government is not just the President – you may note Obama struggling to pass laws through a Congress who hates him. And that Congress, in turn, is beholden to politicians in their home states.
Want change? I support change. But I don’t support it through the weaksauce mechanism of a single Presidential vote. You’re not going to get Jill Stein or Gary Johnson elected – which isn’t to say you shouldn’t vote for them if you believe in their candidacy, because if that’s the case you should. But if you’re voting for someone else to “send a message” to Hillary and/or Trump, well, a lot of people sent messages care of Ross Perot and yet somehow that package never got forwarded.
You can’t get Jill Stein or Gary Johnson elected – but with hard work you do stand a reasonable chance of getting a third-party option onto your city council, or into the mayor’s office, which may demonstrate that your neither-Democratic-nor-Republican policies are effective, which is the only way you’re going to actually send a message for the necessity of a third party. You need to work from the ground up, paying attention when the news headlines are not shoved into your face daily, actively participating in democracy as opposed to passively sitting back and having CNN stuff you full of poll results.
The Presidential Election makes it easy to know what’s going on. But the elections that you can use to change the system in are small, undocumented, often overlooked. The corruption is endemic, but part of the reason that corruption is endemic is because people don’t bother to show up – at the ballot boxes, at the volunteer office, at their politician’s mailbox.
Corruption sails by because people like you aren’t watching.
So yeah. If you’re pissed off about how Bernie got screwed by the DNC, voting for someone else in one election is a positively dumb way to fix that complaint. Former Bernie staffers have rallied to create Brand New Congress, which has as its goal electing, well, a brand-new Congress. Volunteer for them, donate to them, do something other than dorking up the ballot box with your single vote and going back to Netflix.
Or if Bernie’s not your guy, there’s plenty of other options out there! Google them! Find the local levers of change and start tugging those fuckers. If you’re furious, use that rage productively. I want you to go make permanent alterations to the fabric of our society. I want you to fight corruption, and entrenched interests, and politicians who no longer give a crap about you.
But you will not do that with your crappy Presidential protest vote. You’ll have to put more skin in the game.
Good luck. Because I damn well hope you do.
* – Not that he needed much help, honestly. Bush was a weak candidate.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
Yesterday I went to sleep at 9:30pm and today woke up... merely human levels of exhausted. Like, yawning through work, mild headache, difficulty focusing tired, instead of about to collapse tired. Sigh.
Anyway, I have nothing to report or update, so instead let me just share some cool things.
1. I saw a rec for this story on twitter and it's turned out to be absolutely amazing. Part fanfic, part poem, part parody, part original SFF: Especially Heinous: 272 Views of Law & Order SVU. Ostensibly it's a short reaction/reivew/summary of every episode of L&O: SVU that's ever aired, but really it's... something else entirely. A factual description of what happens on the show, and a description that has nothing to do with the show at the same time. Over the seasons it develops its own plot, with its own AU and shipping, and the ending is straight out of fandom's greatest desire.
It's difficult to summarize this story, or to pick one except to demonstrate all that it is. I'm torn between quoting something profound and something hilarious, since this story has both. The hilarious bits are mostly one-liners, strewn like punctuation. I literally laughed out loud every time I hit one. But I'll have to quote a sequence without them:
“Misleader”: Father Jones has never touched a child, but when he closes his eyes at night, he still remembers his high school girlfriend: her soft thighs, her lined hands, the way she dropped off that roof like a falcon.
“Chat Room”: Convinced that her teenaged daughter is in danger from cyber predators, a father takes a crowbar to the family computer. He throws the remaining pieces into the fireplace, strikes a match. His daughter complains of a light head, a burning in her chest. She calls him “Mom” with tears in her voice. She dies on a Saturday.
“Contact”: Stabler discovers that his wife believes she saw a UFO, back when she was in her early twenties. He lies awake all night, wondering if this explains the memory loss, the PTSD, the night terrors. His wife wakes up weeping and screaming, on cue.
“Remorse”: At night, Stabler makes a list of the day’s regrets. “Didn’t tell Benson,” he scrawls. “Ate more burrito than I had room for. Misspent that gift card. Hit that guy harder than I meant to.” His wife comes up behind him and rubs his shoulder idly before crawling into bed. “Haven’t told my wife today. Will probably not tell her tomorrow.”
Just. READ THIS STORY. It's so good. It's part essay, part fiction, part fanfic, and wholly wonderful.
2. One of my friends who started out as a nail polish blogger has been quietly making jewelry for the last few years, and now, finally, has launched her own store on Etsy. I'm super excited about this because she is, like me, a child immigrant, and getting herself to a place where she could admit to being an artist and taking a risk has been pretty huge. Anyway, this is her store.
The jewelry is all pretty affordable and she ships worldwide. For me highlights include: this Slytherin owl, sunflower bracelet, rose guitar pendant and the steampunk owl.
And of course, if you know people who might be into this kind of jewelry, spreading the word would be appreciated.
3. So I've recced emungere's fics here before - I think I've read her Hannibal stuff dozens upon dozens of times by now - and now I'm reccing her original fic (which I... don't think I've done before? Maybe I have). She's about to release the 4th book in her original series, and so for a day the first book was free on amazon. However I am a giant failboat who's been buried under stuff and I didn't realize this was happening until it was too late to fit it into a post.
So, Songs You Know By Heart is now 0.99$, which I think is still a pretty sweet deal. I enjoyed this book a lot, it deals with a lot of weird issues regarding consent and does so reasonably well, I think. If you want any spoilers I'm here for that, of course.
4. Two small things happened lately that made me think the universe doesn't ENTIRELY hate me. A few days ago in one of my mad dashes in between a billion things, I had to go to the pool (therapy for my back, which is now on a very specific schedule since I have a therapist for a while), and when I got dressed after swimming -> hot tub -> shower, I found a clean pair of underwear in my pool bag. I cannot describe from a gesture from above that was. I hadn't packed it! Because I forgot, as usual. My pool bag is like 50% clothes and objects that I really should have taken upstairs and washed but keep forgetting. And here! A clean pair of underwear! O_O I felt blessed.
And then today, my building at work, which is a pokestop, had a lure module plugged in by someone who wasn't me. I went to buy a soda and spent like 20 minutes sitting on the porch catching pokemon. It was SO GREAT. Which is to say, inkstone has started pokestop! For all the Pokemon Go gamers who are on DW.
It made me laugh. I'd never had anything like this happen, or heard of it happening. It turns out that escalators are exactly the kind of thing white canes are good at -- I always put the cane on the step ahead of the one where I'm standing so I can feel, I can get a bit of warning even if I'm not paying attention (because I can see well enough to be fine on escalators anyway if I'm not daydreaming) and it tends to work very smoothly.
Still, I appreciated the guy's unobtrusive, effective help that only lasted a second and didn't interfere with my own plans about how I was getting around (as a person who's probably more sighted than I look when I'm using my white cane, sometimes overhelpful strangers surprise me and cause more of an obstacle than I had before, unfortunately).
I laughed a little at the sheer delight of it, told him he was kind, and moved on thinking about how once I get this immigrant book out of the way (it seems now like I never will, urgh) I might take all my thoughts about the sighted class -- I've been offered lots of classes on living with sight loss but I don't think it's me who needs them, it's everyone else! -- and make that into a book or something too. Since I can't actually get a job teaching the class, which is possibly the thing I'd most love to do (besides be an astronaut or something even less plausible), I could maybe put it all in a little book.
The next thing I had to do was buy my train tickets, so I got in line to do that. Just then I got a text so I took my phone out and I could swear that the middle-aged white man who'd just joined the queue behind me was glaring at me. But I chalked it up to either his bitchy resting face or just me being paranoid because I do worry about doing anything when I'm out that complicates the perception of me as a blind person. Of course, totally blind people use phones too but it's another thing that subverts people's expectations of us and I'm aware of the potential animosity that can be caused by anything that does that.
So the line crawls along, there's a big group of students or tourists or something who seem to be going to London and are having to have peak and off-peak tickets explained to them. Eventually I'm at the front of the line and someone calls "next please!" from what seems like miles away. It's certainly on the other side of this group of European young people who still don't have their tickets but do all have rucksacks and bags everywhere.
And this part of Piccadilly station is really badly organized; there's no way for people who want to leave with their tickets to get out except to walk past the queue of people waiting t buy tickets. So I see a man walking towards me from what I can presume is the ticket seller who's just shouted for me and because she's way down the other end and there are all these people and their bags at one of the nearer ticket counters, I'm waiting for this man lwaving to walk past me before I attempt to go to the ticket seller because there's no room to do anything else. (And indeed I still end up bumping into somebody's bag anyway as I tried to get past this big group of people.)
But as this man gets past me and I start moving toward my ticket seller, the grumpy-looking guy behind me says "go on love!" in his grumpy northern-man voice. I can't help bristling at this, and snapping "yes I was doing." I add a "thanks" that I hope is understood with all the sarcasm with which I intended it but I worry that it's to mitigate the possibility that he was telling me to be nice and not to be mansplainy or ablesplainy like it seemed to me. (Or even just to be impatient but in an impersonal way.)
And then I was annoyed that I do expect sexism and ableism so much that maybe people would legitimately be able to say "but I was just trying to be nice!" and I am in fact an ungrateful bitch.
But then I thought about how this contrasted with the other thing that'd just happened. I didn't mind being singled out and helped then (even when it was help I didn't strictly need). I was pretty convinced this grumpy man wouldn't have been as grumpy if I weren't younger and more feminine than him even if I weren't carrying a white cane.
We never interact with people as only one of our identities unfortunately. I don't know what it is about me that makes people react to me like they do. I can't react to them except as a combination of all the other interactions I've had and what those have led me to expect. Of course it's not fair to each new stranger I might encounter and maybe react to a bit more snippily than they think is warranted. But it's hardly fair on me, either.
Anyway, I'm really going to have to think about writing that book! Like I need another book to be writing...
AFAICS, the power of one's Pokémon depends entirely on the total time one has spent playing the game... so if you're not going to play as much as the "top" players, are you actually able to *do* anything?
Am I missing something here?