And now, a couple of tales from the life of an officemouse...
* * * * *
Last week, a woman knocked at my office door. (I keep it locked because I'm alone most of the time and we don't do walk-in business; not so much out of fear as that then I can just wave solicitors away without having to talk to them.)
She said, "I see you've been feeding the crows out here..."
Me [bracing self to field another complaint about bird poop on the sidewalk]: "Yes..."
Her: "You feed them dog food and hard boiled eggs."
Her: "You shouldn't do that. It's bad for them."
Me [o.O]: "Er... no it's not."
Her: "Yes it is! Something something Audubon Society [I didn't quite get all this] and you should really be feeding them bird food."
Me [patiently]: "Well, no, bird food is generally formulated for seed-eaters. Crows are scavengers; they're omnivores. They eat everything. Meat, fish, berries, bugs..."
Her: "But they're not eating what they're supposed to because they're eating your food instead!"
Me: "Oh no, I'm not their only source of food. Birds eat really often. I'm not even here all day, or every day. I see them out here eating roadkill when it's there, and..."
Her: "(something about the Audubon Society again) and you're LITERALLY KILLING THEM! LOOK at how SCRUFFY they are!"
Me: "They're molting. That's how they look when they molt."
Her: "They're supposed to be eating the grubs out here in the ground! They're not doing their JOBS!"
(In hindsight, this is the point at which I should perhaps have just started smiling and nodding.)
Me: "Er... no, I'm really not their only food source, I promise you."
Her: "You can TELL they're not eating the grubs because they're ALL OVER THE CARS!"
(There's been some speculation in my household as to what this meant. I thought she meant that the grubs were all over the cars, and I was trying to figure out how the grubs had climbed up onto the cars (and why); or if grubs fall out of the trees (I don't know anything about grubs) then how that would tell her anything, because they'd be falling on the cars anyway, whether the crows were eating them off the ground or not. Some of my household think maybe she meant the crows
were all over the cars. Although none of us can figure out what that would have to do with the grubs, either.)
Me [at a loss]: "I can only say I'm certain I'm not their only food source. They eat lots of things, they're omnivores."
Her: "Well there are different SPECIES of crows and you're killing SOME OF THEM."
Me: "...I appreciate your concern, but I promise you it's fine. I can double check and read the ingredients of the dog food I'm using..."
Her [walking away with one of those bitter laughs like she's giving up talking to someone completely unreasonable]: "Read the AUDUBON SOCIETY!!!"
(I'm not entirely sure I got it all verbatim or in the right order because she kept skipping from one issue to another and I was having a hard time keeping up.)
Well. It shook me up a little. Partly because strangers unexpectedly getting on your case about something can be a bit unnerving. Partly because it's also a bit unnerving when someone says YOU ARE KILLING THIS THING THAT YOU CARE ABOUT. And partly because I don't think fast enough on my feet, and didn't have the presence of mind to point out to her that my sources on what I feed the crows include John Marzluff
, the UW researcher who did the facial recognition studies in crows, Michael J. Westerfield
, another crow researcher, and Seanan's uncle who did corvid rescue and rehab. (Some of you will remember the "MICROWAVE!" story.) The fact that I didn't tell the woman these things pokes at my "someone is WRONG on the INTERNET" button.
I went inside and continued my IM conversation with Seanan, telling her what happened. Seanan soothed my metaphorical feathers and reminded me that yes, I really am feeding them the right things. ("What did your uncle feed his ravens?" "Chicken, liver, sometimes hearts, egg yolks, and DOG FOOD.")
(And just to be thorough, we both searched the Audubon Society website, and neither of us could find anything to contradict this. Their food & feeding pages are devoted entirely to feeding seed-eaters; no mention of corvids there at all. I guess they don't think anyone would actually want corvids around. Their few corvid identification pages-- I checked all the species they had that are said to be in the Pacific Northwest-- mostly don't mention what crows eat at all, but the few that do include meat, fish, fruit, insects, and GARBAGE. Really, I think once garbage is on the diet list, dog food and eggs aren't going to be any trouble.)
It's not likely that lady will be back for me to tell her just how WRONG she is. She was around for an hour or two more after she talked to me. I think she was helping the neighboring office with some kind of gardening thing (I saw her moving a bag of potting soil at one point) but she's not the building's regular gardener, who is a very sweet lady that I talk to often. Every time I saw the woman again after that, she was walking along with a different one of my office neighbors and talking earnestly and frownily to them. I don't know if she was still complaining about the crows (I'll be amused if she was; I'm certain my neighbors don't give a shit what I feed them) or if she just had lots of other things to complain about that day. But people so rarely come back and give you the chance to say the things you wish you had thought to say in the moment.
* * * * *
Last week, a man knocked at my office door. Sometimes I wait before answering, to give people a chance to decide that a locked door means we're closed and wander away. (They do this blessedly often.) He didn't go away and he didn't look like he was selling anything, so I opened the door.
Me: "Can I help you?"
Him: "Yes, I want to pay my bill." [holds out torn envelope toward me]
Me: "Er... I'm sorry?"
Him: "Isn't this State Farm?"
Me: "Oh, no, State Farm is next door, that way." [pointing]
Him: "Oh, thank you." [leaves]
Now, it's not like this was a HUGE inconvenience for me or anything. But sometimes I just wonder what's going on in people's minds.
My office door says "EVERGREEN" on it, and has a green evergreen tree logo. About eye-level to this man for the thirty or so seconds that I made him wait before I came to the door.
The State Farm office, at the corner of the building, has:
* A big brand new red and white awning that says "STATE FARM" and has the State Farm logo, and the agent's name and phone number and I think also their email address
* A red and white feather banner
on the corner (I had a time googling for what the hell those are called) that says "STATE FARM" and has the State Farm logo
* A red and white sandwich-board style sign in front of the office on the planter that says "STATE FARM" and has the State Farm slogan and the agent's name and phone number
* A large square sign mounted on two poles in the ground in front of the office that says "STATE FARM" and has the State Farm logo
* Another sign mounted on the wall next to their door that says "STATE FARM" and has the State Farm logo (I think this one might be a drop box for payments; it's kind of raised)
* Red and white lettering on the glass of their front windows and doors, which says STATE FARM" and has the State Farm logo (and their hours and phone number and stuff)
I'm not kidding. This is the view as you'd see it from the street out front
. This is the view as you'd see it walking toward it along the sidewalk
. One of these two views is what you'd see before you got to my office
. Unless you were walking along the sidewalk from the other direction, in which case you'd see that feather banner before anything else.
I wasn't upset or even annoyed, really; as I said, it really wasn't all that much of an inconvenience. But... I dunno. Is it me?
A post on Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
(alludes to spoilers?) by hebethen
This weekend I was at 100 Year Starship: 2014 Public Symposium as an sf writer guest. It is just as well that I managed not to realize that this was more like a business??? symposium than an sf/f con because I was, uh, underdressed, and this was me wearing my nicest clothes, including the nice shoes that caused my ankle to bleed because I wear them twice a year and they're still not broken in. But people were really nice about it? I'm a houseYoon and stay-at-home parent when I'm not writing, darnit; my days are spent in T-shirts. I rebel at the thought of spending on suits that I would only wear once every five years.
This took place in Houston, which was nice because aside from layovers this is the first time I've been back to my hometown since 7th grade. The Hilton of the Americas where they lodged me was scarily swank (did I mention that I was underdressed?) and, like all really nice hotels, did not have free wi-fi. (The shabby second-rate hotels where Joe and I would tend to end up on our own have free wi-fi. What is up with this?) The skybridge-connected George R. Brown convention center where the symposium took place, on the other hand, was spacious and had good signs for rooms but also dreadful interior decoration: dark reds, blues, and dingy grays, and exposed mysterious pipes in the ceilings, sort of as if they were trying to evoke a depressed version of the Texas flag and an oil field at the same time.
I was supposed to fly in Thursday just to have a day to settle in, but they canceled my flight due to weather, which everyone in Houston assured me had not been so bad as all that (I was in Houston one year when it flooded and my mom had to fetch me home from school and we waded through the water all the way home on foot). Fortunately, Science Fiction Night, the only panel I was on, was Friday evening, so I rebooked for Friday and made it in. I regret this terribly, however, because I missed the opportunity to go to a bunch of others' presentations and panels. I would have killed to make it to Kenneth Wisian's "Military Planning for Interstellar Flight" (scheduled opposite Joshua A. Miele's "Star Flight and Universal Design: Planning for Disability and Accessibility in the Context of Long-Term Interstellar Travel," it just figures). Also dreadfully sorry to have missed Alires J. Almon's "Breaking Bad: Creating predictive models for psychological breaking points during long-term space travel."
Anyway, a few notes--I did not take notes on all the things I went to (and because I am prone to migraines, I ducked out of some things or took breaks), although there was a ton of interesting stuff; I think there was one presentation on molecular? diagnosis and while I approve of medicine in general, I have no background so there was no way I could have extracted comprehensible notes to write up later.
Also, besides the fact that I missed a full day and had to take breaks, there were a ton of things going on: every time they broke out into panels, there were three things going on at once. So I went according to my interests, but I missed a TON of stuff; please don't take this as exhaustive!
Meanwhile, while I have your attention, PEOPLE LEARN TO MAKE BETTER POWERPOINT PRESENTATIONS
. For heaven's sake if the boring houseYoon who has never been to business school can tell that you should never make a Powerpoint slide with small dark red text on a black background, YOU SMART PEOPLE WITH MBAS AND PHDS SHOULD KNOW BETTER. Thank you, thank you very much. At least now that I don't do admin work I don't have to deal with Powerpoint slides with ginormous 1200 dpi images embedded in them...
Albert Allan Jackson
Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, TX
My memory's a little foggy but this was on how advanced civilizations might signal us. ( Read more... )
The Future of Religion in Space as Glimpsed by Interstellar Fiction ( Read more... )
State of the Universe
21st Century: The Century of Biology: On Earth and Beyond
Dr. Jill Tarter (sp--sorry, I have a program that I brought back but I cannot for the life of me navigate it) and Dr. Mason Peck ( Read more... )
Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi
Dorit Donovich, PhD
Space: A Healthcare Ecosystem ( Read more... )
One of my favorite presentations, because I almost, uh, had issues
with my classwork thanks to Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri: Peter Murray from Firaxis presented Civilization: Beyond Earth during a luncheon!!! It was so exciting. ( Read more... )
Plan B: Humanity's Health
What happens when we can no longer inhabit Earth?
Dr. Yvonne Cagel ( Read more... )
website: steampunkscholar.com( Read more... )
Final thing I took notes on, Mark? Garvin?, a classical guitarist--"I don't believe practice makes perfect. I believe efficient practice makes efficient playing." (It's true. Practice has to be mindful is how I think of it.) He also demonstrated how something very simple and familiar, the diatonic major scale (he played in C in edit: fifth (I can't count) position or however guitarists call it, I could hear the timbre and also I could see his hand on the frets), could be transformed into "Joy to the World," and then a bit of it became part of the Star Trek
theme. (I'm reminded of a music composition book I have which nudges the would-be composer along with software with "tuneblocks"; very cool approach.) I adore classical guitar and I was thrilled to hear him play.
One night they did a screening of the original? (black-and-white, anyway) The Day the Earth Stood Still
, with scientist-commentary afterward. I can't tell you anything more because it had been a long day and I bailed five minutes in to avoid the oncoming migraine.
They also did a pre-screening (?) of Michael Epstein's documentary Makers: Women in Space
, part of a four-part "women in X" series. I liked it a lot but dear God please let me not have to watch footage of Challenger
ever again, and I can only imagine it was worse for the people there who had worked
for NASA or were still working for NASA, etc. Of course, apparently the next one in the series is either Women in War
or Women at War
and as much as I love science, I am going to scheme until I figure out how to watch the war one when it comes out, because the preview showed a female strategic analyst and I am dying to learn her
I can't really recount what happened at the panel I was on (which also included Edward Lerner, Nisi Shawl, and Les Johnson--I felt distinctly outranked) in any detail other than that I decided that if I couldn't be informative (again, not a scientist) I could at least be funny. Since one woman came up to me later and thanked me for being funny, I am hopeful that this strategy worked. There was a hilarious moment when a very angry, probably German (I'm guessing from the accent) physicist asked how we sf writers could live with ourselves destroying youth's minds with trash and ruining them for science. I was perfectly prepared to say that as someone who draws on math, I have nothing to do with science one way or the other, but Edward Lerner, who has degrees in physics, computer science, and business retorted that there had once been a poll of physicists asking them their interpretation of quantum mechanics and the plurality (there was no majority) said "none of the above," so if the physical professionals couldn't come to a consensus, why should writers be held to a higher standard? =)
In the meantime, the food was exuberantly copious--at various points they had people in very pretty suits walking around offering crudités. I was floored, I'm pretty sure that's never happening to me again--and people were very nice. But I am now glad to be home with my loving Joe and lizard. :)
- thinking about:
A lot of this post is catch-up. But with pictures!
1. I missed International Talk Like a Pirate Day
! Have a picture of Robert Newton and some seafaring songs.
The Imagined Village, "Mermaid
"Neptune he has favored us with fair and lively breeze
Like a thing endowed with life she bounds across the seas
Then we're off to Tibert's Bay upon some drunken sprees
To drink some rum and raise some hell and lose our dignity
The Bills, "Bamfield's John Vanden
" (historically attested
)When the listing wrecks needed us the most
We slipped past death on the graveyard coast
But the ocean remembers, so we never did boast
Peter Bellamy, "Anchor Song (Live on Folk 80)
"Oh, we're bound to Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!
were in town this past week! Below the cut please find photographic evidence in the form of Mippo. Also Shweta. Elsmi appears in none of these pictures because the first two were taken before we met up with him at dinner and the last two were taken by him because my phone is kind of terrible.( The hippopotamus was no ignoramus. )
3. If you have not already seen Ursula Vernon's Harry Potter fic
and its accompanying illustration
, there you go.
In other news, worst insomnia since 2006 or 2007. Trying to remember what I did yesterday, I think the answer is mostly laundry, work, and I showed derspatchel The Cruel Sea
(1953), from which he correctly recognized my young Denholm Elliott icon. We have surprise plans for dinner at Lobsta Land
and Beckie tonight, which should be fun. Anything gets me more sea, I approve of.
Today’s episode of Writer’s Ink features Sean Williams, an Australian author with a Whole Lot of published fiction, including the #1 New York Times bestselling The Force Unleashed. One of his latest books is Twinmaker [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy], “set in a future where “d-mat” technology, which allows for cheap teleportation and item replication, has created a seeming utopia of plenty.”
Here’s Sean showing off his ink:
In his words:
My plan is to get one tattoo for every book I have published. Unfortunately, because I’ve had trouble coming up with designs, I’ve fallen a bit behind. I currently have one tattoo. My forty-seventh book comes out in November.
I didn’t get my one and only tattoo until I turned thirty, after a string of failed romances. I was feeling pretty glum and needed to do something for myself, something defining and privately declarative, and eventually I came up with the perfect design for a place that normally only someone close to me would ever see. This was way back in the dawn of time, before everyone had a Chinese character on their upper shoulder.
The design comes from the I Ching. Hexagram 23, “Splitting Apart”, is usually associated with disintegration and decay, which seemed appropriate after all that heartbreak. It has a deeper meaning, though, as all hexagrams do, and it is this meaning that I wanted to be permanently etched into me. It goes something like this:
You have a cherry tree. It’s diseased and dying, which is obviously bad. But as long as there’s one cherry left on it with a viable seed, you can start over. You can grow a new, healthy tree from scratch to replace the old tree.
My tattoo is the character associated with that hexagram, since hexagrams themselves are hard to tattoo well and tend to warp with age. I may have got it wrong, it may mean “massive prat” if you say it the wrong way, but the story behind it has got me through some very difficult times in my personal and professional life. I’m glad it’s there.
My next two tattoos will be an infinity symbol and the outline of Mr Mischievous’s grin. All I have to do now is figure out where to put them. Decisions, decisions.
I told him that if he decided to catch up on those 46 other tattoos all at once, I’d be happy to have him back for a special edition of Writer’s Ink. But in the meantime, here’s a close-up of his tattoo:
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
1. All my transit timing today went unusually well, including a side trip to refill my card.
2. I ran into people who helpfully registered me to vote! I needed that!
3. My dresser is not only assembled but a really beautiful deep teal color, due to my awesomeness. (Researched a good colored wood stain online, found and retrieved it locally, applied it, sprayed two topcoats, finished assembly.)
4. Also, I put up giant stickers of magnolia blossoms.
Now I just need to find a smallish mirror and saw off the dresser legs to a better height. Well, and unpack all the rest of the things. Progress is so satisfying!
This afternoon I was buying two boxes of cookies for two different households. (My brother and his wife are finally, after many delays and shenanigans, moving into their new house. This is all good! They are homeowners! We don't have to board their cat while they live with my parents betwen leases!) There's very little overlap in cookie preference between households, so after stocking the first box for my brother and his wife, I asked the girl behind the counter for a pen and marked the box with their initials. She was very patient with me wanting pretty much one of every kind of cookie in the bakery, only in different boxes; she closed the second box and tied it up and offered me the pen again. "No, thank you," I said, "I only needed to differentiate one of them." She looked at me slightly, as at a non sequitur. I still don't see how that was a confusing thing to say.
So my current sleep schedule is terrible: I'm can't fall asleep till it's light out and I can't stay asleep past noon. I'm having dreams, but I can barely remember them. I am exhausted and vaguely spacy all the time, although fortunately that did not hinder all of yesterday. Last night I wrote fic for Pacific Rim
I have no idea. I haven't seen the film since July. It fell out of my head between three and five in the morning; it does not resemble my other fic (mostly Lackadaisy
) and I'm not even sure it's canon-compliant. The title comes from Newt's introductory scene, describing the kaiju Yamarashi: "2500 tons of awesome . . . Or awful. You know, whatever you want to call it."( Whatever You Want to Call It )
The subject line is what jamessacorey
said when I claimed that J and I had made almond mozzarella. But we did! Here's photographic proof:
And here's what it looked like on pizza:
Yes, it shreds and melts, thanks to the magic of kappa carrageenan, though it doesn't get stretchy (I'd have to add xanthan gum for that) and it doesn't love direct heat. I made that pizza with 10 minutes in the toaster oven preheated to 450F followed by 4 minutes under the broiler, and it came out fine. But when I put slices of the cheese (not shreds) on top of bread and toasted it, with the toaster oven starting out cold and heating the toast from both above and below, the cheese got an odd sort of thin crinkly skin on top, though it was lovely and melty underneath. It had only started to brown slightly when I took the toast out, but I'm sure it would brown well if given the chance.
It is far FAR better than any storebought vegan mozzarella I've ever had. The flavor is perfect, milky and mild. The texture is a little solid, almost rubbery; it would be perfect for something like deep-fried cheese sticks but it's not quite right for eating on crackers. There's a "buffalo mozzarella" recipe that cuts the carrageenan from 4 tsp to 3 with all other proportions the same, and I might try that next, since I still have some almond milk in the fridge.
Oh yes, this is made from homemade almond milk: almond meal + water + Vitamix + 2 minutes. (I love the Vitamix so so so much; very grateful to auntyglory
for that housewarming present.) So the complete and total ingredient list for the cheese:
Tapioca starch (aka tapioca flour)
Refined coconut oil
Lactic acid powder (lemon juice can be substituted)
That's it. And making it was pretty simple, though it required some elbow grease (provided by the mighty sinboy
): blend the non-acid ingredients*, heat in a nonstick pot over medium-low, stir frequently until it goes through the curdled stage and becomes glossy and goopy and thick (and reaches 175F internal temperature), remove from heat, rapidly mix in acids, pour into a mold and let cool, put in the fridge to set. I keep it wrapped in paper towels to absorb excess moisture that gradually rises to the surface, so the cheese gets firmer over time.* The recipe recommends blending everything except the acid and the oil and adding in the oil in the pan. This doesn't make sense to me, since the Vitamix can emulsify the mixture far better than a person could manage by hand. Maybe the oil becoming fully incorporated into the mixture would be a sign of cooking progress? Still, I should probably try it the way the recipe recommends, to see whether that affects the cheese's texture in some way.
In short: chemistry is pretty incredible. And delicious.
The recipe is from The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook
, which is nonstop amazingness from cover to cover. The book is inexplicably self-published; I don't know why it isn't being brought out by a trad publisher and marketed the way Miyoko Schinner's Artisan Vegan Cheese
was, but the only place to buy it is from the author's website
. So if you're interested in making your own vegan cheese (and butter and whipped cream and sour cream and all sorts of other fake dairy products), please support awesome queer vegan self-publishing chefs and buy a copy. I recommend the PDF edition, which is full of seriously impressive photos.
Now to decide what to make next: mild cheddar or Swiss. The Swiss calls for extra-dry vermouth, and I'm not sure we have any... must check with J, who's in charge of the liquor cabinet.
So I watched the pilot for the failed-to-make-it-to-series High Moon
that SyFy aired the other night.
I figured that any Bryan Fuller project was worthwhile (his Mockingbird Lane
was proof that NBC blew it, for example).High Moon
, on the other hand, was awful. Really awful. Like Sharknado bad, but without the sense of deliberate irony. And with bonus racism and awful science (as in, worse than Sharknado). Jokes about the folks behind it being high are obvious, but don't even begin to cover how bad this was.
I tweeted a lot about it. You can see my full Storify here
But I figured this show merits a post, because people should be warned to stay far, far away from it.
1. It's racist as all fuck. Like, folks from India, when they go to space, decorate everything with Hindu gods instead of making functional space environs, because of course that's what they'd do. And the Japanese astronaut, beyond speaking broken English, also comes across as a Puffy Amiyumi wannabe and spends her time building space toys against her orders, including a giant fucking plastic dinosaur that completely comes out of nowhere. Don't even get me started on the musical cues.
Oh, and we get this bit:
I can't tell you how hard I facepalmed.
2. Even beyond the racism, the show's just fucking terrible. Dinosaurs showing up out of nowhere. A fucking ninja showing up of nowhere (and vanishing into protoplasm). The floating fucking eyes. The awful, awful F/X, which feel like something that the folks at The Asylum would sneer at. There's the southern and bellicose Secretary of Defense, played almost exactly like Rod Steiger's character in Mars Attacks
, but with no sense of his utter goofiness being intentional or ironic in the least. And the expository dialogue! Every fucking line is awful, clunky stuff that every other character in the room already knows. It never fucking stops.
3. Oh, you want the plot? So there's a flower on the moon. And the people who find it somehow trigger an earthquake. And then there's tension between the Japanese, Indians, Russians, and US (because this was based on a John Christopher book from fifty years ago
, and has paid no attention to geopolitical stuff since then*). And the Indian ninja attacks the lone survivor of the original explosion, leading to an international incident involving the the US general, Russian leader, and his lover who is also a spy for the US but actually a spy for a multinational and who has two hands that pop off like Thing from The Addams family but really (because they're robotic and very active) remind me more of something out a Phil Foglio Xxxenophile
strip. And then things get confusing with the dinosaur and the plasm and the Indians all vanishing but their eyeballs floating in mid-air, and the monster who eventually just gets ignored. Oh, and then there's a cave at the end that's filled with flowers.
The point being, this is terrible. Really terrible. Like, someone should have pulled the plug at the screenplay stage, and again after each day's worth of production. There's no excuse for this travesty existing, and I'd be genuinely surprised if someone at SyFy doesn't lose their job over the money spent on it.*Except, of course, for the fact that Christopher's novel had barely any mention of particular nation states, so this is all on Bryan Fuller and company.
It's almost as if sexism et. al. has nothing at all to do with whether or not you believe in any sort of religion at all.
The Caramel Macchiato Kiss, by Jennifer Montgomery.
A cute romance novella about Callie, who’s starting college and also starting as a barista, and her romance with Justin, the sweet but ever-so-slightly-mysterious boy she meets after hours. They bond over their mutual love of hot caramel and dislike of actual coffee. This is pure comfort reading, high on likability and low on conflict; needless to say, Justin’s secret is the opposite of dark. Sweet and fluffy as a caramel macchiato. The Caramel Macchiato Kiss (The Coffee Shop Romances Book 1)The Italian Soda Summer, by Jennifer Montgomery
The second in the Coffee Shop Romances series, but you could read it first. Maddie, a college student, falls for Alessandro, a grad student who will only be in town for the summer. Though still sweet, this one has more of a melancholy tinge; the characters not only feel like real people, they feel like real college students, sometimes pretentious, sometimes moody, sometimes idealistic. The romance progresses largely through earnest yet entertaining conversations about art and life and so forth. It still has a comforting feel, but it’s got more meat to it than the first novella. Very enjoyable. The Italian Soda Summer (The Coffee Shop Romances Book 2)
Buried in the comments of a thread about some of Vox Day's claims (so, you know, mpr)
John Walker on September 16, 2014 at 5:12 pm said:
Well, according to Bookscan Larry’s sales are in freefall. His first mm pb book sold some 51,000 copies, but that was back in 2009, which was an entire different publishing world, then. His latest book in mass market? 3500 copies, at best. He seems to be trading on past success,but honestly most of his books (and his compatriots) are selling poorly. Hoyt’s latest? 200 copies. Freer’s? 600 copies. If anything a lot of this is just knee-jerking on their part, and suggestive that perhaps they should figure out why their sales are plummeting, instead of picking on others for their misfortunes.
is lacking a copy editor at the moment (do you want to be our next full-time copy editor? Apply here!
), so I offered to help out. They took me up on it to the tune of eight extra work hours a week. On top of my current freelance projects. Of which I have a copy edit due tomorrow, a crit due 10/7, and another copy edit due 10/28--all of full-length novels.
It's been a while since my workload was this intense. I'm enjoying it, but it's taken me a little while to get up to speed. I think I've more or less remembered how to balance work and sleep, and sometimes I see my family for a minute or two, and I'm pretty good at remembering to eat at least twice a day. Those being my priorities, expect to see a lot less of me around LJ/DW and Twitter for a while. I'll try to keep up, but no guarantees.
Today, some links. There may be some content later, but I am not about to promise it. derspatchel
and I did get a very nice walk from Central Square to Micro Center and then along Memorial Drive to Kendall Square as the sun set and the river darkened and the clouds turned burnt rose and gold. We saw students sculling and sailing and a lot of spiders in the rails. A flock of very large white geese that turned and closed in on me like a special effect in a horror movie. I had no bread and rapidly retreated. Veggie Galaxy
made me a cookies-and-cream coconut-milk shake.
1. Courtesy of strange_selkie
: Broadside Ballads from the Bodleian Libraries
2. Courtesy of handful_ofdust
," by Ibeyi
. Yoruba doom soul. I hope there are physical CDs; I know people I need to give them to.
3. This is a rather nice fourth-century Greek olive crown, in gold
4. I can't remember what I was doing that I had this link lying around on my desktop, but it is a funerary relief of two first-century freed slaves
. Roman, legitimately married, in love. She predeceased him and, even through the formulae of a Roman woman's virtues, seems to be remembered well.
linked me to this
For example, I had no idea Australopithicus had anything to do with Australia.
The awesomest part was he was explaining it to a girl who took the same class. I need to remember the tone she used replying, because I am 80% sure if someone uses that specific tone it means "I am too polite to correct you but you should stop talking."
I've heard about an awful lot of people, including in Card's introduction to the novel in some later edition of it, who identified with Ender as gifted kids, or gifted individuals, or gifted whatever it is. That was not I. I mean, for heaven's sake, "Down is toward the gate"? I can't even tell my left from my right and I wish I were making that up.
Was there no one whose point of fascination with the characters was the instructors?
(I was just as fascinated as anyone else by the space tactics, though.)
Wim sent me a few things in a small package, which eventually reached me despite going to the sublet first. He generously included a packet of Swedish fish candy, but one of the other things in the package was a sweater of mine that had somehow gotten into Wim's deadly mothball-packed stuff. (There are at least two chemicals that count as mothballs, and one I am okay with while another is nauseating. These are the horrible ones.) I put the sweater through the wash. The candy, well.
So I sent him this haiku to inform him of the problem.
Days later, unwrapped
Swedish fish waft on fall winds
The smell of mothballs
Lizard Music #1
by the Lizard
I don't know whether the Soundcloud embed will show up so bear with me. We recorded this in Cockos Reaper and I threw a basic Kontakt piano on it. Lizard gave her permission for this to be shared.
Lizard has been fascinated by my composing for a long time and today I was wrapping up a piano sketch that I started some years back in Pasadena. She wanted a try, so I suggested that she have at the black keys since pentatonic is friendlier to a beginner. She played two-fingered, "Chopsticks"-style, and was happy with the result. I showed her the piano roll and how horizontal was time and vertical was pitch, and she could see the contours of her melody as well as a basic indication of rhythm. I'm not claiming this is Beethoven, but everyone starts somewhere, and I can hear her alternating hands (hasn't really discovered harmony) and playing around with that little dotted rhythm she seemed to enjoy.
I am trying to figure out where people get the idea that composing is mysterious; probably the same place that I got the idea that game design is mysterious, only I don't remember where I got that idea, and despite having that idea, I designed at least two board games (bad ones) as well as a couple half-@$$ed gamebooks and a sad attempt at a generic RPG system when I was younger. I started by listening ravenously to everything my dad had, and to the car radio, and to the television, and everything really, and by making up variations to pieces that I learned in orchestra or piano class, and screwing around on my own. There's probably a better way to learn--I had nothing resembling formal instruction in composition until the Houston Music Institute when I was around ten or twelve or so--and even then I got the distinct impression that most students didn't come in doing this stuff on their own for random.
Anyway, I don't insist that the lizard do this unless she finds it fun; but if she does find it fun, I can try to impart to her some of the tools so she can explore to her lizard's content.f
- thinking about:
Warning: camera neepery ahead. Or, depending on your temperament: yay, camera neepery ahead!
I’m looking to replace my Leica V-Lux 2, which is a hand-me-down from my mother, ergo more than a few years old. Searching for a replacement has been educational, because it’s illustrating for me the extent to which the niche occupied by this model appears to be, well, disappearing.
There are DSLRs. There are point-and-shoot cameras. What there doesn’t appear to be is a point-and-shoot with specs that are equal to or better than what I have right now. Nikon’s Coolpix line is right out; they don’t seem to have any model with an aperture range bigger than f/3 to f/6.5. (My Leica goes f/2.8 to f/8.) The Leica website still lists the V-Lux 4, but given that I can’t seem to find it for sale anywhere, I have a sneaking suspicion it’s been discontinued. My best bet so far is Canon’s PowerShot G1 X Mark II . . . but, and I admit this is a trivial concern, its LCD is embedded in the back of the camera. My Leica has the screen on a swivel arm, which has come massively in handy when I’m trying to take photos at weird angles, like from over my head or around a corner.
The Nikon D5200 has the swivel screen — but it’s a DSLR. (Or, to be more precise, it’s a system camera/ILC.) I’ve kind of wanted to move to interchangeable lenses for years now, so I should leap at the prospect, right? Well, not quite. Because that means carrying lenses with me, and I’m not keen to have the added weight, given how many of my trips involve being on my feet all day. Not to mention that switching out lenses will slow me down, and my husband is already wonderfully tolerant for putting up with the amount of time I spend taking photos. (Not to mention carrying our backpack part of the time, so he’d be dealing with the added weight, too.) I’ve worked hard on being as quick as I can, but swapping out for a wide-angle lens or whatever is going to inevitably take time.
Sure, I could get the Nikon and then just never buy any other lenses. But at that point it seems stupid to have a system camera in the first place.
Except that I’m not sure I can get what I want otherwise. The Canon comes closest, if I’m willing to give up the swivel screen; it’s gotten some excellent reviews. But the point-and-shoot market is being cannibalized by smartphones: they may not be as good at taking photos as a dedicated camera, but for most people’s purposes they’re good enough, and much more convenient. If you actually care about the finer points of photography, it seems like you’re increasingly looking at the higher end of the market, just because of the way the lower end is vanishing.
All of which is extended background leading up to a question: is there another camera I should consider? The swivel screen is negotiable, but I definitely need f/2.8-f/8 or better, decent zoom, and ISO up to 1600 (bonus points if the levels above 400 are actually usable). Right now it’s a race between the Canon Powershot G1 X Mark II and the Nikon D5200, but I’d love to know if there are any alternatives.
Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.
A Dangerous Thing, by Josh Lanyon.
Los Angeles mystery writer Adrien English goes to a lonely cabin in the woods to relax and get over his frustrating non-relationship with hot but closeted cop Jake Riordan. (This is the second book in a series, and I didn’t read the first, but presumably that’s the one where they met.) Since this is a mystery, Adrien immediately finds a body, which proceeds to mysteriously vanish. The locals suspect him, so it’s Jake to the rescue! A playful mystery-romance, with lots of banter, sexual tension, and hurt-comfort. A Dangerous Thing (The Adrien English Mysteries Book 2)Knockdown, by Dick Francis.
Jonah, a bloodstock agent (horse dealer, basically) discovers unethical practices in the trade; despite increasing levels of menace and violence, he refuses to go along with it, putting himself at higher and higher risk. Meanwhile, his alcoholic brother still refuses to go to AA. But on the bright side, Jonah meets a beautiful air-traffic controller…
This typical Francis set-up goes in some unexpected directions. It’s the darkest of his books that I’ve read. They can deal with some very serious subjects, like grief and depression, but are not grim. The protagonists are put through the wringer, and good people and horses may die. But villains don’t prosper and heroes come through battered but wiser, with a better grip on their own issues and often with a budding romance with some interesting, independent woman.
This is the only Francis book I recall which does not have a happy or at least hopeful ending. ( Read more... )Knockdown
But this caught my eye:
Brightman is slated to become the eighth paying passenger to travel to the station, a $100 billion US research complex that flies about 418 kilometres above Earth.
Surprisingly, the I in ISS isn't for Imperialist but International (although I imagine the US paid the lion's share because the US is rich and it's not like they have to reserve funds for an American NHS). A list of participating nations: ( Read more... )
I was foolish and mopey last night, but many things are nice.
- Almost done quilting the Wim quilt. (I should've thought of working on it last night, probably would've felt better.)
- Unpacked many clothes, though I need a good dresser to organize things before doing much more.
- The weather is a thing that is nice now! Walking is pleasant and it takes 5-10 minutes less time to get anywhere than my summertime estimates. Beautiful skies too.
- The fish Lord Nelson built a bubble nest just because. I guess he is feeling sassier!
- I've been sleeping pretty well even with importunate cats.
I walked something like five miles today and worked until nearly five in the morning and my body does not appear to believe it needs sleep, although I am quite certain it does; I do.derspatchel
and I visited the MFA briefly tonight. There are three new galleries
in the classical wing; I only got as far as the one dedicated to the art of Homeric epic before the museum closed and kicked us out, though Rob reports to my great delight that one of my favorite erotic kylices is back on display. I photographed this marble fragment of a siren through the glass:
(Phone caption as I mailed it to myself: "Mourning Siren, then we got thrown out of gallery.")
If I request John Barnes' Kaleidoscope Century for Yuletide , is there anyone on the planet likely to write me fic for it?
Or to request it, for that matter?
More happily, I am determined to nominate Steve Jackson's Sorcery! quartet, because gamebooks.
 I'm only interested in KC and its two principals, although the mods might prefer the trilogy (also including Orbital Resonance and Candle) to be nominated as a single fandom? Despite minor character overlap, however, KC really stands on its own quite well.
Two definite noms: The Great Queen Seondeok and Steve Jackson's Sorcery!.
For the third, I have to decide between Enlisted, Kaleidoscope Century, and in case I change my mind entirely, Valvrave the Liberator.
I suspect I am just asking to be pinch hit bait this year, though. :(
I tend to get a bit obsessed with new projects sometimes. On the bright side, I’ve decided to go ahead and do a print edition of Rise of the Spider Goddess, to go along with the ebook. Yay! I’ve also been looking into cover art options, finishing up the annotations, and thinking about the best way to publish and promote this sucker.
This is what I think the text of the print version will look like:
I’ve also been messing around with cover font possibilities:
None of this is final yet. (And that particular color combination is giving me a weird Law & Order vibe…) But I’m having a great deal of fun.
It will probably be at least December before this is available, but I’ll keep y’all updated
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
The Future According to Stanislaw Lem
[The Paris Review]. Fascinating overview--I've only read The Futurological Congress
and one of the shorts, but I was impressed.
By way of james_nicoll
, Dear DC Comics, This Is Why You Shouldn't Leave Creative Little Girls Behind
- recent reading
Elizabeth Wein's "No Human Hand to Touch" in Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling's Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers
, an anthology of (mostly) erotic fantasy. The quality of the stories in the anthology is highly variable; this is one of my two favorites (the other is Doris Egan's "The Sweet of Bitter Bark and Burning Clove"). Wein writes bitter-sharply of the incestuous affair between Morgana and her son Medraut. I believe I read this before I became a hard sell on Arthurians (these days I won't touch Arthurian anything, period), but the mutual passion and destructiveness of the affair is keenly depicted. In my reading this is the single best portrayal of Morgana--from first person, at that--intelligent, poisoned by her own ambitions, lonely; aware of her own monstrousness, but not its degree. It's an incredible feat of writing and I only wish I were capable of something half as good.
- recent viewingPlay It Again, Dick
[streaming on CW, USA-only?], a meta-bit of Veronica Mars
spin-off spoofiness. It was very silly and very short, but Joe and I were amused.
“What girl can I be?” Cassie asked, digging through the game pieces.
“I don’t think there are any girls, sweetie,” I said, anger building in me. Cause really, DC & Wonder Forge? WTF? You know it’s 2014, right?
Cassie put down the game pieces. “I don’t want to play this, then.” She turned and moved to leave the room, and it broke my heart. In part for her, and in part because I love superheroes, and this should be something we can share.
Get a flu shot this year, everybody. I thought it was a tad early, and instead I have the flu. You do not want this flu. I have been out of bed for four hours since Sunday, and three of those were a mistake. It also came on quickly-- I was fine late Saturday night, and then over the span of about five hours, not so much. This is up there with H1N1 as worst flu experiences I've had; I keep thinking I'm well enough to get up and do things, and then being hit over the head with a new and terrible symptom, such as worse body aches, or fever spiking. Get a shot. Get one now. Traditionally flu season starts in October, but that is like, what, two weeks away?
I thought for a while there I wasn't going to be able to post this today because I had a service outage in my neighborhood that was estimated to end about the time I have to leave to pick up the kids from school. But it's fixed now, so here I am. I finished "Out," which was great. I have some tiny, tiny reservations about the denouement, but they are miniscule writerly nitpicks that aren't even worth discussing here. I don't even mean style questions, I mean "if I were writing this book" thoughts, and, well, I was *not* writing that book, so really I should shut up already.
I've just started Michelle Tea's "A Mermaid in Chelsea Creek." Also (yes, there is a link here) I am looking for a book to read aloud to the kids. I think, after a rapidly-moving FaceBook discussion this morning, that it's going to be "Charlotte's Web," but I am still entertaining other suggestions for the future. Girl/women and POC protagonists prioritized; fantasy is great, scary is great, something that *I* will enjoy reading aloud is crucial, and I am actively trying to avoid "the usual suspects" (e.g. Harry Potter) mostly because of the lattermost point. Vocabulary/reading level is mostly irrelevant (although I don't think the kids are up for Dickens yet/still. They did fine with Alice in Wonderland, though, which is trickier than you might remember, and subtler too, at least if you're six).
I started up with karate again last week: my first time back since the seminar in Okinawa. As with the previous surgery, I’m not up to full speed, but even just getting to move around is a good thing.
It also paid an unexpected dividend. As shodan-ho — a term which means “probationary black belt” — I’m on the border between “black belt” and “not a black belt,” neither fish nor fowl. I was the only shodan-ho at the seminar (most of the other dojo in our organization apparently don’t use that ranking), so when Shihan said “black belts do X; lower belts do Y,” I had to ask which group I ought to go with. He initially sent me down with the lower belts, but then changed his mind and moved me to the other group, which is how I ended up learning kusanku way earlier than I expected to.
At home, my liminal state puts me in an ambiguous position where classes are concerned. I had told myself I wouldn’t ask until I was out of the ankle brace and more or less recovered . . . but as it turns out, I didn’t have to. On Monday, I was informed that I am now permitted to attend the Thursday class — the black belt class.
Sadly, I won’t be able to make it this week, because I already have plans for Thursday night. But it’s official! I count as a black belt! It really does feel momentous, even though I’ve been to the Thursday class during the vacation periods where it’s open to all belts, so I know it isn’t actually anything special. And I’m glad that it happened this way, with Shihan telling me, rather than me asking. There’s an element of etiquette to how these things get handled; me being patient and not pushing is the way it’s supposed to go.
Presuming I can avoid any other surgeries or suchlike, I should be able to test for the next degree of shodan-ho at the beginning of December. Then it’s sixty classes (minimum) to becoming a Real True Black Belt, with no ambiguity. Five or six months, but probably longer given that there are holidays and I miss classes and so forth. But it is entirely plausible that I’ll be shodan before 2015 is out.
I’m looking forward to it.
Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.
Let's see if this format works better:
Between our time and that of 17-year-old Noria Kaitio is the Twilight Century, a period of climate-change-driven chaos left the world a much poorer place. Noria lives in the Scandinavian Union, which in turn takes its direction from New Qian. Democracy is a thing of the past, as it generally is in stories like this, and government is very much top down. A sensible person in these circumstances either tries to exploit a dying system for ephemeral personal power or they try to avoid attracting the attention of ambitious people. Noria rejects one and fails at the other. The rest of the review can be found here.
1632, by Eric Flint.
A chunk of a modern American town, including the entire local chapter of Mine Workers of America, is mysteriously transported into 1632 Germany. What those people need are red-blooded Americans with lots of guns!
This is kind of hilariously what it is. Apart from Flint being pro-union, it is exactly like every sweaty right-wing fantasy ever, complete with the lovingly described slaughter with lovingly described guns of nameless evil people whom we know are evil because we see them randomly torturing and raping the hapless, helpless villagers. The rape and torture is lovingly described, too. There are also loving descriptions of various engineering projects.
Mike spoke through tight jaws. "I'm not actually a cop, when you get right down to it. And we haven't got time anyway to rummage around in Dan's Cherokee looking for handcuffs." He glared at the scene of rape and torture. "So to hell with reading these guys their rights. We're just going to kill them."
"Sounds good to me," snarled Darryl. "I got no problem with capital punishment. Never did."
"Me neither," growled one of the other miners. Tony Adducci, that was, a beefy man in his early forties. Like many of the miners in the area, Tony was of Italian ancestry, as his complexion and features indicated. "None whatsoever."
Gave up on this. It’s not that I never enjoy this sort of thing. But I have to really be in the mood for it. (Appropriate mood: Snark locked and loaded.)Free on Baen.
Yes. Of course this is a Baen book. There are the obvious exceptions, like Bujold, but Baen has more of a house style than Harlequin
.Stray, by Andrea Host.
An Australian teenager steps through a portal to a strange world, where she survives on her own for a while before being rescued by and taken to another world, where she becomes a lab rat for a bunch of psychic ninjas who fight alien monsters!
This sounds completely up my alley. However, this is my third try at reading it, and I have never gotten farther than 30% in, and I had to force myself to get even that far. It’s written in the form of a diary, which means there’s no dialogue and it’s entirely tell-not-show. I’ve read books like that which I’ve really enjoyed (Jo Walton is extremely good at that type of narrative), but this one never caught my interest. It’s certainly very ambitious— for instance, Cassandra does not speak the alien language, nor does she instantly learn it— but I found it dry and uninvolving.
Sorry to all who recced it so enthusiastically! I will try something else by Host, but I’m giving up on this one. That being said, everyone but me seems to love it, and it’s free on Amazon, so give it a shot.Stray (Touchstone Book 1)