Brain dump

Sep. 26th, 2017 11:08 am
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Went shopping for the bits of groceries I can't send Andrew for (he's been pretty good about asking me nearly every day if I want anything from the shops while he's going, but sometimes that doesn't work) and am on my second load of laundry today. It feels like a lot when I've been so busy! But both were sorely overdue.

But I've done my reading and my little "just to check you did the reading" quiz after my first lecture yesterday. I was supposed to have a tutorial for that this morning but the timetable was screwed up (the timetable is so screwed up I've got at least four things this week but only one turning up on the timetable) so have just got to read about the essay prep we were going to cover. I enjoyed the lecture, on the more sciencey, brain/mind-related aspects of linguistics, and feel like it and the reading are things I get to do rather than things I have to do. If it just stayed that way for the rest of the semester, this'd be easy!

Gary seems to be doing a bit better now the antibiotics are kicking in. When we were gone over the weekend [personal profile] mother_bones noticed he had a loose tooth and rang me up to ask him if it'd be overstepping for them to take him to the vet. Of course I said absolutely not, please do, and told her which vet we've taken him to before. Turns out he's got a couple other bad teeth as well so is going to have an operation on Friday to take them out and catch up on a couple of niggly things like clip his nails (which he hates when he's awake!) and get him microchipped.

[personal profile] mother_bones was also very good at managing my utter misery about this, because of course I immediately panicked that she'd spotted something that I hadn't ages ago because I couldn't see it. She and the vet both said these things can happen (or at least reach a critical mass) quite quickly and I hadn't missed anything or been a bad dog owner. In a funny way I was almost glad that Gary did seem a little subdued when I came to pick him up again after we got back from our weekend away: he clearly was acting differently from the dog I'd dropped off on Friday so I could be more confident that he hadn't been suffering for ages with oblivious humans around. But like I say the vet gave him an injection and we've been giving him oral antibiotics since yesterday and then and today he seems to be much more his old self, still eating and barking at things and sitting in the sun and being his Wonder Dog self. A few friends-of-friends have had unwell or missing or otherwise fraught dogs and it's been a bit much for me because I keep fretting about Gary but I am getting better too.

There's actually enough sun to warm my back as I sit with a big window behind me! I hung the laundry out for the first time in weeks! It's very welcome. But makes me sleepy. I had a lot of sleep last night but could totally have a nap now...
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Andrew has (extremely carefully and only after I said it was okay, having learned from last week's debacle!) opened the post from the Home Office and can confirm that it's my UK passport.

I'm not even happy or relieved yet. I'm so ground-down by the whole process that it still hasn't sunk in yet, even as I look at it with the lettering all shiny, next to me on the table, waiting to be taken upstairs and filed away into unobtrusive normality.

little moments of alienness and not

Sep. 25th, 2017 09:10 am
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
Years ago, when Leonard was writing Constellation Games, he named the various alien species after different human words for "alien" or "foreigner". So there are Aliens, Foreigners, Farang, Gaijin, Extraterrestrials, the Others, and so on. One species of them is the Auslanders; later a German-speaking friend told us the spelling of the plural ought to be Auslender.

Today I was rereading a little chunk of Lake Wobegon Days and came across Keillor referring to Ausländers, and was reminded of that moment years ago. And then just after that was the passage about Flag Day, and I was catapulted far further back, to fourth grade and the first time I read (or was read?) any of this book. I was in a Gifted and Talented class in an elementary school in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, with that teacher who had a chunk of the Berlin Wall in her classroom. Did she read that to us or did I read it by myself?

Saturday I was on the 7 train back home from Maker Faire and I was sitting near some girls who -- as they happened to say aloud, in their conversation with each other -- were 12 or 13 years old. I am about three times their age. Yet I wanted them to look at me not as an alien grownup but as someone they might be like. They all have smartphones and evidently deal with boys sending them dick pics. And they act blasé about it; I don't know how they actually feel. The next day I talked about this with the people staffing the table next to mine. One of them suggested that boys have always done sort of body-part-display to girls less as a sexual come-on and more as a thrill-of-the-forbidden act, with dick pics as analogous to mooning. We joked about the dedication of an imaginary man from a previous century who worked in rotogravure or lithograph or woodcut. Or at least, like, Matthew Brady or someone using silver nitrate film.

cue "Ashokan Farewell"

My dearest Elizabeth. Tonight the Union Army rests. We know not what battle the general will order us to tomorrow. But know that my love for you is the wind that calls your name through the trees. Here's a dick pic. I had to sit for five hours for the army portrait painter boy to make this.

Sergeant Cowling was killed at the Battle of Bull Run.

I was laughing pretty hard by the end of this.

Maybe one reason I like laughing with others, and making others laugh, is because it is a kind of proof that we are not entirely aliens to each other.


Sep. 24th, 2017 10:08 pm
[syndicated profile] incrementum_feed

Posted by Mary

One of the best and worst things about the four year age gap between V and A is their lack of interests in common. Best because they don’t fight over toys very much, worst because they often want to be in different places: toddler paradise is not pre-tween paradise. It’s getting worse now that V is slowly, finally, starting to outgrow playgrounds.

But there are some pursuits that span the age range:


Joint work

[syndicated profile] mendonomasight_feed

Posted by Jeanne Jackson

Grace O'Malley captured this charming sight, an Allen's Hummingbird with yellow pollen on her beak.

Grace O’Malley wrote, “I learned something fun in the Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior – ‘Each flower species deposits pollen in a specific place on a Hummingbird’s head to increase the chance that birds visiting the same species of flower will cross-pollinate the flowers.’ In the case of this little hummer, our Mexican Sage deposited yellow pollen on the top of her bill.”

Here are two more photos Grace took of this feisty hummingbird who migrates through the Mendonoma coast in the spring and again in the autumn.

Thanks to Grace for allowing me to share her photos with you here.

We are having a warm, clear day here on the coast. Perfect for whatever nature experiences call to you!

Sunday Secrets

Sep. 23rd, 2017 10:46 pm
[syndicated profile] post_secret_feed

Posted by Frank


Dear Frank-
Years ago I started writing notes and putting them in random places like behind paintings in hotels, between the pages at book stores and in Sky Mall Magazines on airplanes. While browsing through a PostSecret book, I found one of my notes. That small ripped piece of paper is featured above. I attended your event last week at CMU. I’m thankful for your ability to speak to people in their broken places.

[syndicated profile] mendonomasight_feed

Posted by Jeanne Jackson

I shared with you last week a photo Jon Shiu took of a Black Bear eating huckleberries in Elk. Here is the other photo Jon took.

Gosh, that is a big bear! And this bear sure loves huckleberries. Jon watched as he/she took a branch laden with berries, and ran the branch through his/her mouth That's efficient picking! Here is the link to the prior post in case you missed it:

Thanks to Jon for allowing me to share his photo with you here. And here's to learning to live with the wildlife that was here before us.

Spectacular day on the Mendonoma coast today!

Pursuant to the last entry

Sep. 23rd, 2017 01:20 pm
rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Hope Not Hate have an excellent blog post explaining who they are and why they're going international.

We are coming to the United States because we have to. In our increasingly interconnected world, what happens here impacts on Europe. What happens in Europe has an impact on what happens in the United States.

Last year Britain voted to leave the European Union (commonly known as Brexit). This would not have been possible without the intervention of Breitbart and Cambridge Analytica. Likewise, Brexit gave Donald Trump a huge boast and convinced him and his supporters that anything was possible.

One of the main protagonists behind the Hillary Clinton conspiracy stories was Paul Joseph Watson, a 32-year-old man who lives in a flat in London. More recently, the ship charted by far right activists from across Europe in the Mediterranean was funded primarily by Americans.

From last year -- here's a Guardian piece on a Hope Not Hate workshop:

The Guardian: What does Hope not Hate actually do?

In November, I went to a Hope not Hate event at a mosque in Cardiff – a three-hour workshop on how to challenge and discuss anti-migrant and prejudiced sentiments. It drew a crowd of around 20, one or two of them local muslims and a few with migrant backgrounds, but the majority were white Welsh, many of whom had not previously been in a mosque. The organiser, Jonathan, began the session by asking what had prompted people to attend. Many described feeling worried, frustrated and in need of a toolkit for discussing race and immigration with family, friends and colleagues.

Their undercover reporter [ profile] patrik_h -- looks like a cinnamon roll, will secretly infiltrate your international white supremacist network:

Dagens Nyheter: The Swede who infiltrated American Nazis

”He offered me to speak at the opening about my thesis topic: how the left has infiltrated the right. I spoke in front of 75 armed white supremacists.”

The Meet the Swede who went undercover for a whole year with the alt-right in the US and UK

Of course, then I was scared. I mean, there was this combination of a group of young men with guns and a violent ideology. That's not a great combination.
juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
[personal profile] juushika
Title: The Ecliptic
Author: Benjamin Wood
Narrator: Jane MacFarlane
Published: Penguin Audio, 2016 (2015)
Rating: 2 of 5
Page Count: 470
Total Page Count: 232,315
Text Number: 740
Read Because: this review, audiobook borrowed from the Multnomah County Library
Review: In the first third: an artist's colony, stylized and idyllic, contemplating themes of inspiration and artistic craft. In the middle third: a life history which initially and often feels like an excessively long parenthetical, wherein is revealed that the protagonist suffers severe mental health issues. In the final third: the aspects are united, revealing the colony as a hallucination which is part of the aforementioned illness. The voice is decent, overlong and overdetailed in a way that offers a hypnotic immersion if the reader is willing to be lost to its rhythm. The navel-gazing about art is indulgent, but counterbalanced by some extent by revelations in the ending which contextualize and deescalate all the artistic angst. But I hate, hate, hate the use of (mental) illness as a plot twist—in part because it made for unexpected, triggering content which dampened my reading experience; in larger part because it's insincere and exploitative—yes, even the twist is justified by the nature of the condition, even when the portrayal is sympathetic. It consigns it to a gimmick, to a mystery, rather than a lived experience, and the style and themes can't hold up with the twist removed. I admit my bias; bias or not, I don't recommend this.

Title: The Changeling
Author: Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Illustrator: Alton Raible
Published: New York: Scholastic, 1974 (1970)
Rating: 3 of 5
Page Count: 230
Total Page Count: 232,545
Text Number: 741
Read Because: beautiful, old copy found at a Little Free Library
Review: Chubby, mousy Martha's childhood best friend is Ivy, daughter from a no-good family who claims to be a changeling. This has an episodic structure that threatens to be overbearing: the adventures of two imaginative outsiders are charming, evocative, sympathetic, but also frivolous. It's the cumulative effect which matters more, and while Martha's arc is dated (fat reader surrogates are fantastic; fat reader surrogates who lose weight while gaining confidence is problematic) her emotional growth still resonates and the relationship between the girls has sincere chemistry. Ivy is by far the more interesting, dynamic character; Martha is a conservative PoV choice, but Snyder's compassion prevents Ivy's story from becoming a morality lesson and off-centering the most thoughtful parts of the narrative is something I suspect would age well with the reader. I would have liked this more as a younger reader; the restrained, episodic style means there's nothing especially engaging for an incoming adult reader. But I think I would have liked it very much indeed, and still appreciate Snyder's humor and humanity.

Title: Infomocracy (The Centenal Cycle Book 1)
Author: Malka Ann Older
Narrator: Christine Marshall
Published: Macmillan Audio, 2016
Rating: 3 of 5
Page Count: 390
Total Page Count: 232,935
Text Number: 742
Read Because: personal enjoyment, audiobook borrowed from the Multnomah County Library
Review: In the near future, micro-democracy has divided the world into miniaturize nationstates headed by a single supermajority. But irregularities in the upcoming election threaten to destabilize the entire process. The setting is worldwide and convincingly detailed (especially the food and internet use), even if the technology/centralization is untenable. There's an attempt to make the characters accessible (and this almost succeeds in Mishima, arguably the protagonist), but with so many characters and such an excess of headhopping it's difficult to grow invested. The plot has a quick, clever pace—but I confess that I had a hard time keeping track of all the players and names, and was insufficiently invested to care. In other words, a decent book with the wrong reader—there's an audience for that Older is doing here, for smart and diverse techno/political thrillers; but it's not for me, and nothing jumped out to convince me otherwise.


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