I'm attending this meeting right now, by dialing in to the phone conference machine in the middle of the meeting room.
It's interesting to note who has a clear speaking voice and who doesn't. No, I couldn't possibly name names :P
Will report back on actual happenings later...
ETA: Have just been christened The New Gareth Epps due to my scathing comments about real ale provision; I'm taking that as the compliment it was doubtless meant to be
- thinking about:
Day Minus Two: and this is the big one, as far as treatment is concerned. We have been told to expect to be in the clinic for about twelve hours.
At seven this morning, Karen was allowed a breakfast of one (1) glass of water, one (1) granola bar, and one (1) piece of fruit with no added yogurt. Fortunately, I was allowed all the coffee I wanted.
At nine we piled into the team bus, and came to the clinic. Access ports were opened, blood was drawn, and we sat around for an hour while they tested that for stem cell wealth.
Once satisfied, they are taking us - or at least the patient half of us - into the apheresis room, to be attached to a machine for the next four hours. Their blood will be slurruped out of them, and the stem cells fished individually (I like to think) from the blood before it's pumped back in again. Karen is rated for 117,000,000 cells. Which is quite a big number, and I want to know how they count 'em.
After that comes five hours of chemo, also through the port. Then they take us home.
Karen's been connected up, and we caregivers are not allowed into the apheresis room. So guess what I get to do for the next four hours?
Uh-huh. Fortunately, while we were making our wills and giving all our worldly goods into the possession of a trust (The Trebizon Trust, did I mention? I am convinced that in a few hundred years it'll be this megacorp, dominating human space if not in fact the galaxy), our lawyer and I had a cheerful talk about how The Count of Monte Cristo is a masterpiece, and I thought, "Ooh..."
So I'm halfway through that, and there's enough reading left to keep me happy for a day or two to come. After that, though, Lord only knows what I'll turn to next. Suggestions of long, familiar comfort-reads available on e-book will be gratefully received.
Review copy provided by Tor Books.
This is the sequel to last year's charming Flying
. It's not a bad book, but it highlights the perils of sequels rather clearly. Flying
has a clear emotional arc and core: Mana is figuring out what the heck is going on with aliens and enhanced humans and her place in the world, but her relationship with her mother and her friends is rock solid. In Enhanced
, the central mystery is far smaller in scale. The basic facts of the world are known and we're down to figuring out the details. Mana's mother is out of commission, and her relationship with her friends is shaky for most of it.
Possibly worse, her combination of cheerleader and superpowered (enhanced, as in the title) individual really doesn't get a chance to shine for a full three-quarters of the book. Mana is scared, uncertain, and on the defensive--which is fine, but it's less fun to read about than Mana discovering, exploring, and kicking butt.
There are some new aliens, some new government agencies, some new developments in the world. But in general this feels like a little more of the same but less so. A de-escalation in some senses, a holding pattern. I still believe that Jones has somewhere to take Mana and her pals Seppie and Lyle, and this book is a fast read to get to the next step, but...we're not at the next step yet, and I don't really feel closer.
Please consider using our link to buy Enhanced from Amazon
. Or Flying.
Elizabeth Bear, The Stone in the Skull
. Discussed elsewhere.
Sean B. Carroll, Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo
. Evo devo is, generally speaking, bullshit, but Carroll is someone I heard at Nobel Conference, and he goes beyond Just So Stories; he is a good egg. And he talked in general in this volume, stuff that one could find anywhere and probably already knew if one had the slightest interest, but then also about insect wing patterns, and the insect wing pattern stuff was interesting, so basically: skim to get to the insect wings.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance
. Kindle. I had had such smashing success with 19th century novels lately! (Oh my Middlemarch
.) And this one is set in a Fourierist phalanx and I thought, brilliant, lovely, let's do that then, perhaps I love Hawthorne now too! Oh. Oh neighbors. No. No not so much. Poor Mr. Hawthorne. I read all the many many pages of Middlemarch
, and North and South
and Framley Parsonage
and so on, and never once did I think, well, poor lamb, I suppose you can't help it, it's like being born before antibiotics. And yet with The Blithedale Romance
I caught myself thinking that on nearly every page. Because it was the only way through, the other alternative was to shake him until his teeth rattled and send him to bed without supper, two punishments that would not occur to me without 19th century novelists, thank you my dear Louisa. So: he goes on at great length about how men have no tenderness really, and there is a bunch of maundering stuff about women's work and the purity of women and how bachelors have to obsess about whether the women around them have known marriage before
(hint: nope, obsessing on this topic is completely optional), there is a Dreadful Secret, he abandons all interest in the Fourierist phalanx except as background noise...oh Hawthorne. Oh Hawthorne no
Ursula K. LeGuin, Searoad
. Reread. I first read this when I lived in Oregon. I keep learning things about characterization from it, how she creates a seaside town one person at a time, how the stories link and twine and inform each other. This time, thanks to a conversation I'm having with Marie Brennan, I thought about how differently it would read if the stories were in a different order, how a character is shown novelistically though the structure looks like short stories.
Carter Meland, Stories for a Lost Child
. This is a literary science fiction novel in an Anishinaabe tradition; the way that Meland uses the rhythms and patterning of language are not at all the same as the way Gerald Vizenor does in Treaty Shirts
, and having more than one is really nice, I want more, yay. Stories for a Lost Child
goes forward and backward in time, contemporary teenagers trying to figure things out, a grandfather writing with stories previously barely dreamed of, a space program, past pure water, all sorts of elements that fold together.
Mary Szybist, Incarnadine
. This is a poetry collection focused--not in a religious-inspirational way, in a literary way--on the Annunciation. The image, the idea of the Annunciation threads through these poems, beautifully. They are beautiful poems. I was beginning to worry that they were all going to be beautiful poems and none of them were going to be heart-touching for me
--that I was going to nod along and say, yes, beautiful, well done, but never, oh, oh, would you look at THIS one--and then, and then there was Here There Are Blueberries
, so: oh. Would you look at THIS one.
Carrie Vaughn, Bannerless
. I had previously enjoyed some of Vaughn's short stories but not really been the target audience for the Kitty books, so I was really excited at what a complete departure this is. It's a police procedural of sorts, with flashbacks to the (sorta) cop's young adulthood. It's also a post-apocalyptic novel, with a catastrophe that has led people to seriously consider their resource usage. And it's also a relationship story that, because of flashback structure, allows the protagonist to grow past her teenage relationship, to change and be an adult. For a short novel, there's a lot going on, and it all fits together and wraps itself up by the end. Pleased.
The water pipes in my apartment have abruptly started acting weird: very noisy and comes out sputtering. There seems to be air in the pipes. This started yesterday – first noticed when the toilet tank was refilling with cold water, checked the kitchen taps, and the cold water was doing it there, too. Then the hot water started doing that too, which has me more alarmed: that comes right out of my apartment's water heater tank, so there shouldn't be any opportunity for air to get in it, right?
I called the landlord yesterday, left a message about it. There's construction going on on the floor below me, but I asked one of the guys if they're working on the plumbing and he said no.
It's still doing it.
How worried should I be? What scenarios could be causing this?
Last night, I bolted out of a dead sleep at a little after 11 because the landline was ringing. I run downstairs, but let it go to the answering machine, which is basically a reflex at this point. No message.
I then look at my phone, because grabbing that when I wake up in the middle of the night is absolutely a reflex (though the Pip sleeps much, much better these days!) . . . and it was me. The cell had someone dialed the landline. [*]
I post this story elsewhere, and literally seconds later, I get ( the punchline )
[*] On reflection, it wasn't that late, so I think I fell asleep with the phone still on in my hand and touched it enough to keep the screen awake, until eventually I randomly dialed home. I checked, I hadn't made any other outgoing calls, at least.
So, my friend made a game
. It's a classic point and click adventure in the style of things like Monkey Island. You click on things, you talk to characters, you solve puzzles, you win the game. Except... I thought Monkey Island was dead boring. This is not dead boring. I've even played the tutorial through three times, just to see what the different answers do, because it's so laugh out loud funny.
So yes, I'm slightly biased here because the game is made by someone I know, and is set in a fictionalised version of a town two train stops away, and my daughter voices one of the characters (look out for small child of indeterminate gender Little Bilge)
... but this is the most fun I've had playing a game in ages. It doesn't try to screw you for more money, it doesn't make you do stupid repetitive daily tasks, it doesn't rely on ninja reaction times. It's happy to just make you laugh and warm your heart. In times like we are going through now, that's more valuable than diamonds.
Honestly, guys, you know I wouldn't bullshit you about anything involving money, I'm from Yorkshire.
Go buy Yorkshire Gubbins. You won't regret it.
What I Just Finished ReadingThe House at Riverton by Kate Morton, narrated by Caroline Lee
Very enjoyable mystery/gothic history novel largely set in the 1920s. (I feel like Julien Fallows probably owes Morton money). I liked how the storylines intertwined and how each person's interest in the history changed how they saw it. The love triangle at the centre was probably the least interesting aspect, and I wish the story had had more focus on Grace, as the sections without her dragged a bit. Will read more by this author, in any case.Bearista by Zoe Chant
Does what it says on the tin, though I could have used more coffeeshop UST, as those scenes were a highlight. However the main couple had great chemistry, and I liked how the heroine was strong, interesting and useful in a fight without being an action girl. Zoe is really good at heroines that feel real.
(I hope there's a sequel about Keegan and maybe a carpenter lady.)A Long Day in Lychford (Lychford #3) by Paul Cornell
I really liked the emotion in this book, and how the characters were at odds for good reason. The feelings were very well conveyed, especially Lizzie's inability to connect with the other two. However, it felt a bit short to deal with all the themes it was trying to get in, and a lot of plot threads didn't feel resolved at all. Presumably they will be in the next one, but I wasn't left feeling like I'd read a whole story as I was with the first two. (Unless the fragmentation was itself a meta point.)The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky
I mean, it's a book in which the main character (and most of the other characters) dies repeatedly and often horribly, but it's just really pretty okay! I don't know what to say past wow, shiny about the writing and the structure and the themes, and it's just really meaningful! I want to learn German so I can read it in German. What I'm Reading Now
Audio: In the middle of a Station Eleven
reread, as I've been thinking about it recently. Still really good!
Paper: Theoretically, Beren and Lúthien, practically, not much.What I'm Reading Next
Library book, probably Black Apple as it's due next.
I woke up before noon because Tara was supposed to come at noon. She showed up at 2. I was cranky. She finished off my office today, which is good. And her husband got the furniture out of our house - however, it is now sitting in our yard instead of going to the dump like she originally promised.
She left around 6, and I went to the SCA meeting. I was the first one there, and it was dark and locked up. Sooner or later (like half an hour later) people started to show up, and opened the room, and we had a business meeting about Castle Wars, and then just chatted for a while.
We went to Imperial afterwards, but they were out of my sandwich so I got falafel which might have even been better.
I've still got this damned head cold or whatever it is and it's awful and won't go away. I was feeling better yesterday but that didn't last.
I was fuckin' terrible today in lunchtime Overwatch. Well, as Widow, anyway. I was good as Tracer as always, and the weird thing is, the one time I wasn't terrible as Widow, it was in deathmatch, where I was surprisingly competitive against a pretty heavy set of enemies including three Pharahs and a D.va, which is not normally a recipe for competitiveness but I was.
So I was feeling pretty okay in warmup. But christ, go into quickplay and suddenly it's WHAT IS SNIPERS? and I can't hit a shot to save my life. (And that included while winning. So.)
This is in huge contrast to yesterday where I was not just playing well, but had another entire game of being the Widowmaker I want to be. Defence in Hollywood, 70% scope accuracy, eight criticals, golds in objective kills and objective time and silver in total kills, enemy Bastion got so sick of me that he tried being enemy Widow and yeah that did not help, enemy Pharah kept trying to go over the gate wall and I just kept one-shotting her out of the air until she got so mad that on their last serious push she apparently decided "y'know what, fuck the objective, fuck the game, I'm killing that fucking Widowmaker at least once" and went through the security office while I was busy with other people, jumped me from behind and let loose her one and only ult at point-blank range just for me.
Honestly, I felt quite flattered.
I guess the short form is I am still a work in progress, and it shows.
As I write this, Karen’s in surgery. By the time I can post it - for I have no wifi at this hospital - we’ll be back at the apartment, and she’ll be fine. Drowsy, maybe. It’s a minor procedure, to connect a port to her bloodstream so that she can be a cyborg for a few days; local anaesthetic and a sedative, no more, but they say she’ll go to sleep.
We have a room that is ours for the duration, and all I have to do is sit in it and wait. Half my task here is waiting. (I have never liked waiting, and do it poorly.)
Outside our room in one of those windowcleaners’ cradles that hang on cables from the roof. Two men are in it with all the tools, and they are doing all the things to the wall at my back: hammering, sawing, drilling. It’s like being in the apartment, transposed to a minor key: for there they are building another tower block just next to ours, and that affords us all the noises of major construction.
I am in a weird mood, I find. I feel ... pent. Potentially eruptive. Popacatepetl in miniature. It’s just the waiting. Karen will be fine, and so will I.
I’m rereading an old favourite novel, Elizabeth Lynn’s “A Different Light”. I still hope to meet her one day, for I know she’s local and we have friends in common. (I’m also rereading “The Count of Monte Cristo”, though I have no hope of meeting Dumas. That’s on the other Kindle, back at the apartment. Reading different books on different Kindles may seem perverse, or contraindicated, but really it’s just about power management. This one, the original, a full charge lasts for weeks; t’other is a tablet-in-embryo and I only get a few hours out of it, less than my phone even.)
I thought I’d be doing more work than I am, but apparently a man can just read and shop and cook and watch TV. Maybe after this week is over, when the procedures are behind us and Karen’s just apartment-bound in neutropenia, I’ll find the mindspace again. These next few days are going to be rough: apharesis and chemo and then at last the transplant. At the moment she’s in a lot of pain - or would be, but for the shots - which they tell us is a good thing, a sign that the process is working as it should. Her bone-marrow is sending lots of stem cells out into her bloodstream, ready to be harvested, yay: but this is a painful process, and her bones ache. Tonight’s going to be the worst of that, and she’ll have the discomfort of today’s operation to deal with also. Plus a lot of stress about tomorrow, when we’ll be all day at the clinic.
Now there are weird noises happening just outside the door. Power-tool of some kind, I think. I’m not going to look. They said I can go down to the cafeteria and get some coffee, but I think I’m just going to sit here and wait till Karen gets back.
So, noted white supremacist and general PoS Richard Spencer is giving a speech at the University of Florida, in Gainesville. And the University, in a rather amazing show of WTFkery, has allowed Spencer's camp to screen journalists, only allowing "approved" ones press access. Their excuse "they rented the hall, it's their event."
Apparently, University of Florida is disclaiming any responsibility for anything that happens within a rented hall on their property. That can only end well, don't you think? I wonder what their journalism department has to say about freedom of the press, these days? (feel free to ask them)
But! There is a bright light in Gainesville (actually, quite a few, but one I'm showcasing in particular). Alligator Brewing Co.
Alligator, in the name of decent folk, beer drinking or otherwise, everywhere, we salute you.
If you bring in a (free) ticket to the abovementioned event, before the event, you can exchange it for a beer, thereby a) getting a free beer and b) leaving an empty seat in the hall, as they will dispose of said ticket.
SteelyKid made teddy-bear-pipe-cleaner swaps [*] for her Girl Scouts bridging ceremony last night, which she was justly proud of because she'd figured out a better way to make them that didn't involve cutting up the pipe cleaners, and she distributed them by running up to people, sticking out her full hands, and saying, "Bears!"
Which made me laugh every time, thinking of friends writing Yuletide.
Anyway, her swaps were a big hit, and if you need a Yuletide beta and you think I might know your fandom, hit me up even if it's not on the spreadsheet
. Comments are screened.
[*] Any kind of little craft on a safety pin that you can trade.
Today is going to be kind of stressful. I have to meet Cordelia at school when the school day ends because the choir fundraiser stuff is coming in. I didn't see any way for her to be able to carry it home on the bus, so the best option seems to be me going there and then us getting a cab back.
Some of her teachers have requested Kleenex donations, so I can take those at the same time.
Cordelia has an appointment at 5:45, so we won't have time to waste on the way home. I wish the bus website was actually reliable about the bus that goes between Skyline and downtown. There are two or three different route variants (I've seen the A and C. I'm assuming there must be a B).
We'll get home from the appointment just in time to have friends over at 7:00.
I need to figure out a way to get myself to bed earlier in the evening. Scott and Cordelia really, really want me to watch TV with them which pushes getting ready for bed to 9:00 at which point, Cordelia generally wants to shower. I think that what I need to do is to get a second tube of toothpaste and to keep that and my toothbrush and bite splint in the kitchen so that I don't have to wait for her to get to done to be able to deal with that bit of my routine.
I still have the problem that 8:00 or 9:00 is the point when my writing brain suddenly turns itself on with great enthusiasm. Given that I can't get my body to nap, I have a choice between sleep and writing that's pretty frustrating.
I have been having an absolutely miserable night, but after venting at length to spatch
about Brian Jacques' Outcast of Redwall
(1995) I spent at least an hour reading about various mustelids online, including several species (tayra, hog badger, ferret-badger, grison) I hadn't known existed, and I think that was good for me.
(I liked ferrets. I found them clever, beautiful, charming creatures. I had had a stuffed animal black-footed ferret since late elementary school. By the time Outcast
came out, I even knew several domestic ferrets in person; they were playful and I did not object to their smell. That was the novel where I realized that Jacques' species essentialism was immutable, and I felt painfully betrayed. I understood the long shadow of The Wind in the Willows
, but I couldn't understand how Jacques could miss that his readers would at some point identify with Veil, the orphaned ferret kit adopted into a society of mice and voles and moles—the outsider, the one who feels there's something wrong with them for just being what they are—and then fail to see how it would hurt them to have Veil confirmed as irredeemable, genetically evil after all. He went so far as to give a morally ambiguous character a selfless death scene and then retract it a few chapters later. That ending accomplished what endless recipes for damson and chestnut and Mummerset dialect could not: I burnt out on the series on some deep level and have never even now gone back, despite positive memories of the first four books and their unique combination of cozy talking animals and total batshit weirdness. If you can't appreciate ferrets, I'm out of time for you.)
- listening to:Poliça, "Amongster"
What are you reading?
One Way or Another by Annette Laing - No progress this week.
The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow - No progress this week
Isaiah - So I think maybe what this is is a collection of unrelated prophesies made by one guy? I've also seen some verses that look familiar, although translated a little differently than I've previously seen them.
Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean by Edward Kritzler - No progress this week
Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger - Just started this. It looks cute. It's basically a story about a kid who makes an origami Yoda on his finger, and then that finger starts knowing things in advance, but then he gets suspended from school for threatening a girl with this origami Yoda and his friends have to rescue him.
Kids Pick the Funniest Poems by Bruce Lansky - Most of these poems are worth a chuckle, I think, but I don't know that they are actually the funniest or anything. Jafar doesn't get the humor.
It was just brought to my attention that per the date traditionally held to be the one on which Luther nailed the 95 Theses to a church door, this Hallowe'en is the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation.
I woke up inexplicably at 8 this morning. Actually, it's not so inexplicable; it's a hypomanic episode. But that's neither here nor there at the moment. I got online for 2 hours and then went to read at the elementary school. While I was waiting for Jafar (I got there at 10:17 for a 10:40 reading time because I thought it was 10:30, and also, didn't have to wake up and drag ass for a few minutes while I woke up) the leader of the thing mentioned she had 3 kids whose mentors had just never shown up. The kids were told they were in the program and then their mentors never showed up. I asked if any of them had lunch shortly after Jafar, and was told that one of them had lunch exactly two minutes after Jafar. So I volunteered to read to this other kid, too. I read from the book of poems that Jafar picked, and he asked why they were funny since the title of the book labels them the funniest poems. I wonder if he understands anything I say to him, because these were some funny poems. I wound up explaining the punch line to him a couple times, but then it seemed like if you have to explain a joke it isn't very funny or whatever, so I tried to just talk about the poem a little. He seemed to understand, but still wasn't getting the humor. I dunno.
After Jafar went back to his class, I was paired with a young man named Jayden. Jayden is in 5th grade and enjoys video games and reading. Unlike Jafar he was able to tell me several books he enjoyed reading, and immediately picked out a chapter book that looked good to him (something like Darth Paper and the adventures of Origami Yoda). He said he's a big Star Wars fan and can't wait for the next movie to come out in December. I like this kid :) We read for a little less time than I read to Jafar, because Jafar brings his own lunch, and Jayden had to go through the lunch line and buy lunch. But that's okay, we still were able to read a good bit.
I came home and tried to nap, but Tara started texting me asking me if there were a good time she could come over to measure our windows tonight. I texted Kevin to find out for sure that he'd be home, and then told her she could come by after 6:30, but she'd have to talk to Kevin as I wouldn't be there. At that point I wasn't sleeping, so I got up and had 2 hours to do productive things. I cleaned up the rest of the stuff Tara put on my desk, so now it only looks as bad as it did when we started. Then I refreshed LJ and proceeded to 1. take a picture of my cat 2. make plans to make plans 3. take a can of dog food away from my dog and 4. absolutely not read lj.
The alarm went off and I packed my laptop up and went to my therapist appointment. We talked about Tara, our new furniture, and my making plans to make plans, and suddenly she looks at me with a look of horror and goes, "you're bipolar, aren't you?" And I'm like "yes" and she starts reading a list of questions off her computer and comes back with "I think it's safe to say this is a hypomanic episode." Then she asks me what my list of triggers that I know mean I need to go to the hospital are, and says she'll contact my psychiatrist for me. Yep. I told her I wasn't too worried about needing the hospital because I haven't since I started the geodon, but she made me list out symptoms that I would accept as signs to do so anyway. But it basically boiled down to "if my husband tells me to," and I'm not telling him he has that power. lol.
I went from there to the write-in with Klepto, where we had planned to make plans. We made those plans, which basically are for two write ins, one on the streetcar trolley getting off 4 times and going to different coffee shops, and basically crawling around the city for several hours to different places. The other is doing the same thing on one of the train lines going from Doraville to the Airport and back north again. Then we planned a write-in for the 1st, since no one else had, and we both wanted to try to get off to a strong start. We also started to plan a TGIO party for December. We thought about making it a write in (it's spending some time at a coffee shop that has cats from the local no-kill shelter that you can play with, and adopt if you want to, but we decided people might be too distracted by the cats to write, so we decided to do it as a TGIO instead of a write-in). That pretty much took all our time, and 10 minutes before the store closed, I was like "well, let's not make them kick us out," and we packed up and left.
I also found out Klepto doesn't have family for Thanksgiving. Her dad's family doesn't speak to her because other than her father (who died) himself, they are all racist, and her mother is Chinese. Her mother works at the airport, so she doesn't have the day off since planes still fly on Thanksgiving. So I texted my mother to ask if we could invite her to our Thanksgiving dinner. Of course, my mother is in France, and it was 2:15 in the morning when I texted her, so I don't expect to hear back for a while. Especially since she's on a cruise ship and will probably have her phone on airplane mode until the next port. I imagine my mother will say yes, since she seemed a little put out that Audrey's girlfriend's mother wouldn't invite Kelly to their Thanksgiving last year and left my sister alone on the holiday.
I came home and started talking to Kevin for a while, but he got distracted watching some giant robots fight each other on the internet, or something. so I came back out here and studied for my bat mitzvah, and now, I dunno what I'm going to do. I hope to sleep at some point, because Tara is coming tomorrow. Not super early like Monday, but still at like noon, which is before I naturally wake up. And she'll be cleaning my bedroom, so I can't even nap while she's here.
- thinking about:
family, family: kevin, family: mom, friends, friends: klepto, medical, medical: bipolar, nanowrimo, tara, volunteer, volunteer: reading, writing
So Joe was at D.C. as a LIGO Livingston representative for the press conference on neutron stars gravity waves blah blah and just came home but that's not the part that's making me scream.
He stayed at a hotel four blocks from the White House, which is also not the part that's making me scream.
No: his hotel was ONE BLOCK away from a fountain pen store (Fahrney's) AND HE DIDN'T BUY ME ANYTHING AND BRING IT HOME AS A YOON-OFFERING.
I wasn't expecting him to buy me a fountain pen! (Among other things, Joe has not the faintest clue about fountain pens, let alone what I like.) But he could have bought me a bottle of ink! They would have had ink. And ink is relatively affordable.
Next time he goes to D.C. I'M COMING WITH.
I have informed him that my favorite colors are red and blue. I mean, I like a lot of colors, but this is Joe. He is confused by stationery supplies, so I want to keep it simple for him. He's only an astrophysics Ph.D, not expected to understand things like ink colors. ;)
I MAY BE BITTER.
(He read this over my shoulder then laughed at me. *shakes tiny fist* CURSE YOU, MY BELOVED JOE. CURSE YOU VERY MUCH. Imagine this said in the tone of Batman in the LEGO Batman Movie
when he says, "I...hate you.")
In the meantime, I backed the Marigold Tarot (hat tip to pengwern
) so I shouldn't complain. :p
Back again, after the break for getting the printed book sorted out.
For the month of October, I've decided to try drawing the comic digitally, since I planned to be on the road a lot this month (and sort of on the road, at NY Comic Con). There may be a bit of a learning curve, and some panels may end up being tweaked (by which I mean, "obsessively fussed with") after posting. So far, though, the learning curve isn't as severe as the last time I tried drawing the comic digitally. I think that's because of an improvement in the tech, not me.( click to see the comic )
I find that drawing digitally makes my line a lot looser--not necessarily evident in this comic, since I forced the line into line--so we'll see how that develops.
Project 1: I was told my objection to manure was a relic of my, and I quote, ‘soft city life.” I told them to spend a summer riding the subway and get back to me on smells.
Project 2: "Only in the corner, in a small box, was there notice of unrest between several “anxious young men” over “matters political.” But it did not say what those matters had been, nor how it had been resolved."
Widowmaker brought herself in from the cold, one day, exchanging a list of Talon agents for sanctuary, and at first couldn't or wouldn't say why. Her first breakthrough in explaining herself came in a talk with Lena Oxton, who then helped her break through Angela Ziegler's insistence that Widowmaker was not really a person, and that Amélie Lacroix could yet be recovered. But despite that truth, sometimes, some of Amélie's last memories - mostly but not always tightly compartmentalised away - trouble the spider, and this is one of those times.
This is the sixth in a series of stories set in the It is Not Easy to Explain, She Said continuity, a timeline largely compliant with known canon as of July 2017 (pre-Doomfist/Masquerade), which is when I wrote and posted the first story. It is not part of the on overcoming the fear of spiders AU.
This story follows "It's not easy to explain, said Lena Oxton" in chronological sequence. [AO3 link]
"Do you remember what it was like?"
Lena held Widowmaker's hand, gently, as they sat together, otherwise alone, mid-afternoon, in the smaller canteen at Gibraltar. She drank tea, cream, two sugars. Her counterpart drank obscenely hot coffee, unsweetened, strong, and dark.
For the most part, Amélie's memories stayed safely in their place, out of Widowmaker's way, but there were a few, occasionally, at the border between her birth and the previous woman's death, that picked at her, at times. Dr. Ziegler suggested that was because of the emotions around them - emotions could, perhaps, last long enough, even if the thoughts themselves didn't, to become Widowmaker's emotions as well.
"A little," said the former Talon assassin, after some delay. "Not very much, thankfully. I do not think she was making new memories very well, by then. But there are some."
Lena shuddered a little. "I can't even imagine it."
Widowmaker shook her head. "For her, it was not even the fear of it happening. It was..." She pondered a moment. "It is not easy to explain."
"I can't imagine it would be."
"She would feel, and think, one way, one thing, and then, she would find herself thinking another way, a different thing, a thing like I would think, sometimes, but she would be thinking it, and not me. And sometimes it would be something neither of us would think, but something they very much wanted her to think. And she would believe what she thought, and what she felt, but she would know, she would remember, moments before, thinking very differently about the same thing."
"And she'd fight it," assumed Tracer, "and that would hurt."
"No - but yes? Both would feel like it was her. There was nothing for her to fight. But the difference in the two... that, she found horrifying."
Lena let out a long breathy hoo sound, and took another sip of her tea, before continuing. "So they were making her think... their thoughts, then."
"My thoughts, at least, at times." She leaned her elbows against the table. "Or, to be more correct, the kind of thoughts they wanted me to think. About... how lovely, how beautiful, how perfect it would be when they put her back, and she killed Gérard. And she would believe it, because she could already feel it." The assassin smiled. "As I do, when I kill."
Tracer shuddered. She knew, she knew that the assassin enjoyed her kills - that for a long time, it had been all she lived for. But making Amélie feel that, and Amélie knowing they made her feel that... "Was it you, then? When they did it?" she asked, hoping for an unlikely yes.
The blue assassin laughed, a sound that still made Lena's heart ring every time it happened, no matter the context. "No. I could hardly have imitated Amélie so well for so long. I'd've been discovered, almost immediately. No - it was still her." She took a sip of her coffee. It had cooled a bit, but remained hot enough for her tastes. "That's why it took her two weeks to strike."
"So in the end..." the teleporter said, voice distant in her own ears, "Amélie killed Gérard. And enjoyed it."
Widowmaker nodded. "In a way. They were never above to achieve everything they wanted with her, but they were able to recondition her enough to kill - at least, for a time. And so, she assassinated Gérard, but being torn between the grief and the guilt and the ecstasy..." She shook her head. "That all but shattered her. When she returned, as programmed, they took her apart completely. And built me."
"But you feel some of her... emotions, from then? Her conflict?"
"I do," she said, a tinge of sadness in her voice. She put down her cup. "It was the only death about which I felt conflicted, until Mondatta, and the fight with you."
Lena put a third sugar in her tea. She needed something sweet right then. "D'ya ever wonder," she said, as she refilled her cup from the teapot, "if they'd done a better job sealing her off, if you might not've started to, y'know, think on your own?"
"Internal conflict as the source of self-awareness? Dr. Ziegler has suggested that idea as well." She shrugged. "I do not know. But let's say it's true - in which case, Talon did me yet another favour. They..." she picked her cup back up, sipped at the coffee, and put it back down, "left me open, on accident, to you." And she smiled again, just a little, at the side of her mouth.
The Overwatch teleporter let out her breath, and her eyes softened just a bit, as she looked into those metallic eyes. "Aw, luv. That's..."
"May I kiss you?"
Lena blinked, putting down her tea. "...you... care about..." She shook her head, just a little. "...things like that?"
"I don't know." The spider shrugged again, this time with something artificial in the nonchalance. "But I am finding I... may. At least, with you. Shall we find out?"
Lena wasn't sure what she expected. Would she be cold? Would she feel wrong, would she feel like some dead - and then no, she did not, she was not, she was none of those things, she was cool, yes, but not cold, cool like the first breezes of autumn, like the first hints of snow off the mountains, not chilling, but invigorating, and Lena returned the kiss, almost involuntarily, herself warm, no, hot, like summer sun, like the last day at a Spanish beach before the turning of the weather, and Widowmaker was just as surprised, finding herself melting just a little bit more, and she gasped, pulling away, panting, looking down at her coffee, thinking, How can she be so warm?, before looking back up at the one who had reached past her eyes of molten gold, and finding she had no words then at all.
"Blimey, luv..." managed Lena, after a moment. "You're... only the second woman ever to make me feel like that with a kiss."
"For me, you," breathed Widowmaker, eyes wide, "...are the first."
"I hope it don't make you feel like killin' someone," Lena half-laughed, half-serious, half-joking, a lot nervous and a little afraid, and if that made more than a whole, so be it. "Chiefly, me."
"Never." Widowmaker reached across the table, grabbing Lena's hands with both of her own. "Do you understand? Never. I could not."
She pulled Lena forward, close, quickly, knocking the teacup across the table, shattering it on the floor, and the smaller woman gasped, startled, but did not flee.
"I do not know why, and I do not know how, but..." The spider kissed the teleporter, again, the meeting short but intense, "...I have found someone I could never kill."
Hooooooo, thought a part of the teleporter, unexpected emotions swirling around her mind, throwing her into responding before she even knew she was doing it. This is not gonna be easy to explain, to... to anybody.
Day Minus Four, and this is the last of the easy days we get, this side of the countdown. Well, they're all fairly easy for me, obvs: all I have to do is shop and cook and wash dishes and keep an eye on Karen. But we've had a week of largely being in the apartment with no calls on our time; she's had injections morning and evening (when the doctors come to us), a regime of many pills, and that's been it.
Tomorrow morning, we go to hospital for a surgical procedure, to fit Karen with a port below her clavicle, a direct line into a blood vessel for both input and output. Thursday they tap her precious bodily fluids for a few hours, to filter out 117 million stem cells; then they immediately turn the tap the other way and pump in more chemo. And more yet on Friday. Saturday is Day Zero, when her stem cells are returned to her to start restoring an immune system, hopefully one with better discipline, that won't be trying to eat her hereafter.
These few days are going to be the hardest, by the doctors' own admission. After that it's a couple of weeks of recovery in more or less isolation. If you're curious, look up "neutropenia". Karen gets to eat astronaut food and/or very well-cooked meat & fish. No salads, no fresh veg, no fruits. We wear masks, and she probably doesn't leave the apartment. She probably won't want to.
And then we're done, or at least they're finished with us. We come home (and trust me, you have no idea how attractive those words sound), and spend the next year rebuilding Karen's health. Lots of home-cooked food (hah!), lots of rest. A degree of care in social contact [get your flu shots, people! Herd immunity is going to be our friend, for the foreseeable future]. An ongoing drug regime for a while, but nothing onerous. Oh, and making friends with the cats again, because we will smell of the vet.
I must have done something yesterday, but I can't for the life of me remember anything. Somehow, time is getting away from me.
I posted a story for weissvsaiyuki
today. I still have four WIP that I would love to complete for the challenge, but I don't know if I'll manage any of them.Title:
One More Folded SunsetFandom:
Crawford/Schuldig, background Crawford/ManxTags:
Implied/referenced rape/non-con, Implied/referenced torture, Alternate universe - canon divergence, Alternate universe - dark, Ambiguous/open ending, Amnesia//Brad, where the fuck are we?//
Once he was sure he had a connection to Brad’s mind, he opened his eyes. He felt safer that way.//Schuldig? I wasn’t— No. That’s not true.//
Brad sounded uncertain, fragmented even, in a way that scared Schuldig even more than the odd landscape and his inability to stop walking. //The hill doesn’t look that big, but it will probably take you another half an hour to get here. Things… stretch. Sort of. You’re being watched. She can’t hear when we talk like this, but she’s watching, and she’ll hear if you speak out loud. I’d come to meet you, but… I can’t. I’ll explain when you get here.//
Schuldig knew Brad well enough to know when he was lying. You’re not going to explain anything. Well, we’ve been there before. I’ll get it one way or another.
He rubbed his face with one hand. Why don’t I remember anything to explain this?The story at AO3
Bidding is open over at fandomlovespuertorico
is accepting prompts for its holiday exchange community prompt pool. Read more here
."Native-Land.ca: Our home on native land"
. Searchable map of North America's First Nations territories and pre-colonial histories. "There are over 630 different First Nations in Canada (and many more in the USA) and I am not sure of the right process to map territories, languages, and treaties respectfully - and I'm not even sure if it is possible to do respectfully. I am not at all sure about the right way to go about this project, so I would very much appreciate your input."
)Death of a Modern Wolf
by J.B. MacKinnon for Hakai MagazineOnce feared, vilified, and exterminated, the wolves of Vancouver Island face an entirely different threat: our fascination, our presence, and our selfies.
This wolf essay is really worth a read. I've worked with similar problems here (and know many of the people interviewed for the article), and it really frustrating and sad. Fortunately, our local animal has so far come to a happier ending.
(On a related note, I'll post the quiz answers this afternoon.)
I totally can see the light when it's turned to "off", i.e. when the light meter is set to 0, but only really notice it a lot at night. You guys who claim you can't see it are either lying, or my eyes are freakish. Frankly, I think it's probably the latter, given how often one of my boys complains they can't see the dogs when we are walking them after dark and I can see them perfectly fine.
Happily, Andrew's explanation of how the light works
was spot on, and it doesn't bother me like a glowy phone or computer or TV screen. To give you some idea of how Lorca
-ish my eyes are, though, I have it set to 2 when I'm in bed, and 5 in daylight. It goes up to about 30, by the looks of it (haven't actually counted).
I'm really REALLY happy with the cover I got for it
, which is incredibly thin and light, but still feels sturdy. It also has the autowake function, which is handy. I would genuinely rec it to anyone who has a papperwit
of the requisite size (that's pretty much all of them less than 5 years old).
I think I am also going to quickly get used to having Goodreads integration, which my old Kindle was too ancient to support.
All in all, I think I made the right decision. Thanks to those of you who helped by voting and commenting and things.
- thinking about:
Having listened to the promotional strategy advice of a wide variety of people, I'm planning to accomplish two things this weekend. One will be to set up Hootsuite (or some equivalent social media manager, but that's the one people seem to prefer) to handle automated promotional reminders that I rarely have the emotional energy to do manually. The other will be to set up an opt-in (of course!) newsletter for fans and readers to provide both a direct way to communicate announcements and other information, and to provide special content in exchange for access to attention. I figure to aim for absolutely not more often than once a month except for things like unexpected special sales (which I never know about in advance). Maybe less often than once a month, we'll see. I have a hard time planning these things because I'm not a newsletter reader myself, so I have to figure out what works for people who are.
So what sort of content will the newsletter provide? A lot of it will be just basic information:
- Upcoming/New publication information
- Upcoming appearances
- Current projects
But I'll also be offering some special content not available to people who don't subscribe to the newsletter. And that's where you come in. Here are some ideas of my own, plus suggestions people have made online. Which of these would entice you to sign up for and read a newsletter? What other content would entice you?
- Worldbuilding information (Alpennian language, geography, history, etc.)
- Snippets of work in progress (no spoilers!)
- Exclusive previews of Alpennian short fiction (stories that will eventually be released either free or as a collection, but that I'm not trying to sell individually)
- Discussions of my writing process (for example, I kept a diary of how the plot of Daughter of Mystery developed as I was drafting it)
- Alpennia fan art (with the artists' permissions, of course!)
- Access to Alpennia swag (there is none yet, but I have some ideas percolating -- what would you be interested in?)
Let me know what you think. I'm still trying to get my mind around the psychological aspects of doing a newsletter and how it would differ from my blog, other than providing me with a list of people who have expressed a particular level of commitment and interest to following my writing.
... it's because the boundary commission have released their finalised report into the boundary review, and hardly anybody is happy about it. The vast majority of politicians, you see, wanted the boundary review to advantage their
party and shaft their rivals. The boundary commission, meanwhile, have been scrupulously fair, and tried quite hard to advantage nobody and shaft nobody.
Now, there is a school of thought that this doesn't matter a jot because it'll never get past parliament, requiring as it does far too many turkeys to vote for Christmas. I, for one, think that would be a shame, if only for my little home patch.
The proposals for Calderdale are basically what I would have done, were I the boundary commission. A lot of my fellow Calderdale politicians will doubtless be pissing and moaning about various bits1
, although having read the report, the Tories will probably be the least annoyed of us. Here are the things I am pleased about:
- The two constituencies make geographical sense, for the first time in my lifetime.
- The town I live in can no longer be almost completely ignored by three of the five active political parties in the area.
- We have not created a complete dead zone for the Lib Dems in the constituency I live in, which is what would have happened had the commission accepted the Lib Dem proposals2.
- The constituency names, while not the ones I suggested, follow the same logic3
All in all, I'm quite happy. So here's hoping the turkeys do
, for once, vote for Christmas.
1I know a bunch of my fellow Lib Dems are annoyed we haven't got a winnable seat out of it, by putting all the wards with Lib Dem councillors into the same constituency. To which I would say: did you see our vote share at the last general election? And also combining wards where we have councillors is not the only way to get a winnable seat. Look at the demographics...
2Calderdale Lib Dem membership is divided pretty much half and half, which it would not have been under the proposals the party submitted. While it will annoy EVERYBODY who wanted to be in the mythical winnable seat, gives us two live constituencies to fight for, instead of one with pretty much every Calderdale activist except my household in it.
3I wanted Calderdale East and Calderdale West and they've gone for Upper Calder and Lower Calder. I can live with that. It's miles better than their initial suggestion of calling my seat Halifax, when it only had half of Halifax and two towns that are not Halifax in.
If you had the option to be rich and famous would you take it?
Yes, I think so. I like the way certain rich and famous people play with their fans on twitter. And I'd like to be able to get a message out to millions of people at once. ( the rest )
Review copy provided by Tor Books. Additionally, the author has shown by his behavior that despite what I've said in previous review disclaimers about his books, he is absolutely no friend of mine.
However, quite often people who have made me sad, angry, and/or disgusted with their behavior write books that are too dreadfully written to bother to read, and this is not the case with Vallista. This is another entry in the Vlad Taltos series, and like the others it is not doing exactly the same things as its predecessors. It is expanding the universe of the series, it is messing with everything that has gone before and recasting it. It is definitely not an episodic "like this one, but more of it" entry in its series, and the trap-building nature of the vallista comes satisfyingly into play.
What was less satisfying for me this time around, and this may well come into reviewing the author rather than the book as I am trying not to do: everyone has tolerance limits on the First Person Asshole voice. It's no surprise that a substantial portion of a Vlad Taltos novel is written in First Person Asshole. Some people's tolerance is about a page and a half, some infinite; mine is, at this point fifteen books into the series, fraying. (I would also like it a lot if someone would write a study of how FPA voice shifts in a long series so that it always feels contemporary and therefore includes very mild contemporary phrasing that's almost but not quite invisible and ends up being the prose tic version of a long mystery series looking like it only spans two years and yet starting with the protagonist using pay phones and ending in them using smart phones. Someone who is not me should do that using several authors as reference. Thanks.) But Vallista also has, for very good plot-related spoilerific reasons, forays into other prose voices than that, which made it a lot easier to read just when some of the "look at me I'm clever" bits of narrative voice were not feeling quite as clever as hoped and had repeated the not-clever multiple times just to make sure you had a chance to not-laugh at it again. I liked...hard to describe for spoiler reasons...pieces of other prose voice, and the reasons why they were there.
There is quite a lot of Devera in this book. If you're here for serious forward momentum on ongoing plot arc and for Devera: here you go, this is the one you're looking for. Relationships among other characters in the series, a great deal less so, but there's a great deal of "can't have everything" going around in the world, inevitable that some of it would end up here.