Almost Friday

Jul. 20th, 2017 04:47 pm
nightdog_barks: (Sun)
[personal profile] nightdog_barks
Ugh, so tired and cranky. Have not been sleeping well at all and every day now it is hot and still outside. :-P

Reading Jack Cheng's See You in the Cosmos. It's a YA/middle school/middle grade book, a class I read very occasionally (I loved Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me, but hated Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity.)

Watching Grantchester and The Great British Baking Show on PBS, and Forged in Fire on the Hitler History Channel. Also watched The Accountant on one of the movie channels -- thought it was very silly but fairly fun.

President Potatohead is still an utter moron.

link salad

Jul. 18th, 2017 01:01 pm
fred_mouse: line drawing of mouse sitting on its butt reading a large blue book (reading)
[personal profile] fred_mouse
I'm sitting in a coffee shop in beautiful downtown Mandurah, drinking a cup of coffee, and waiting for it to be 1:30pm. Which means that briefly, I have free wifi access, to go with the coffee nearly as big as my head (I was offered options of small, medium, and large, and as I'm not sure whether there is more coffee in my future today, and there hasn't been any in my past today, large it was).

While there are any number of things I *could* be doing, what I'm choosing to do is work my way through tabs that I have open. So:

Your car has just been crushed by hagfish: Frequently Asked Questions

...and apparently everything else I have open in this window is fic. So, off to read fic for the next half hour instead :}

Fic rec (WIP) -- Check Please fandom

Jul. 16th, 2017 05:07 pm
fred_mouse: line drawing of mouse sitting on its butt reading a large blue book (reading)
[personal profile] fred_mouse
I don't normally read WIP fics, let alone rec them, but on days when I'm looking for something new to read, I frequently have a look at just about anything that turns up in the Check Please! fandom, and this one is just too fabulous to wait and see if it ever gets finished.

The story is self reflection by sinspiration, and it is currently at 12 chapters/25K words.

slightly spoilery description

This is an AU where Bitty isn't on the hockey team, because he hadn't had to give up figure skating. At least, not until he started transitioning -- he's a women's champion at the point the story starts (although the details about the figure skating takes a little while to show up, details that indicate his transition turn up in the first scene, almost the first paragraph). He's already friends with most of the hockey team at the point the story opens, but not with Jack. This is the meet-cute of the story, one seat left in the coffee shop, Bitty practicing for his French class, Jack horrified at his pronunciation and offering to help. Eventually they work out who their friends in common are, and the story mooches on from there.

Story says 'no archive warnings apply', but there are canon-compliant references to past abuse, and either past or current transphobia. Bitty's parents aren't great, but his figure skating coach is a delight (and absolutely the kind of old bat that one finds in well established coaches in many many places/sports).

Cloudy Saturday

Jul. 15th, 2017 02:55 pm
nightdog_barks: Red Mobil Pegasus flying over an open book (Pegasus and book)
[personal profile] nightdog_barks
It actually rained a bit this morning and is still overcast, giving us a temp of 86 degrees (30 degrees Celsius), which is amazing for mid-July. Unfortunately, the humidity is 70%, making it feel as though it's 95 (35 Celsius). I'll still take the cloud cover.

Was very sad to see this news -- Maryam Mirzakhani passes away, aged 40. First (and so far, only) woman to win the Fields Medal, genius mathematician. Wife and mom. And just 40. JUST FORTY. What else might she have accomplished? Seriously, cancer can go DIAF.

Sigh. Still curious to see who the 13th Doctor will be, even though I fell out of love with the show this season and I'm really not sure why.

Here, have a somewhat blurry pic of Layla (taken this afternoon) --

Oh! Editing to add that I forgot to mention I saw a bat last evening, flitting around our backyard at just dusk when the sun was going down! I think Layla was barking at it. :D

Hugo Novellas

Jul. 15th, 2017 09:08 pm
fred_mouse: line drawing of mouse sitting on its butt reading a large blue book (reading)
[personal profile] fred_mouse
In the order that I would vote for them:
  1. Penric and the Shaman (Lois McMaster Bujold) -- it probably helps that I already know the world in which this is set, and I loved it both in the previous stories, and this one. The complexity of the plot, the development of the story, the world building, the solution to the issue -- I loved everything about it. And I love the way that 'author's requirements for coincidence' is hand-waved as 'interference by the gods'.
  2. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe (Kij Johnson) -- I went in to this one unsure. The title felt off (although it was obvious later where it had come from) and the early sections felt like the aspects of Dorothy Sayers 'Gaudy Night' that I had disliked. The idea of reading a story about how hard women have to fight not to end up further behind felt like more than I had the energy for. And then I realised where it was going. This is a transformative work, and is a fabulous reimaging of the source work (very spoilery). The understated horrors slowly collect together to be quite the horror story, without ever being gruesome.
  3. Every Heart a Doorway (Seanan McGuire) -- Beautiful creepy mix of horror and fantasy. I loved the way that the idea of going through a door into a different world was codified, that those doors lead different places. The story itself was an interesting exploration of the way that people cope with coming back from those worlds where they fit, and how it can go so wrong. There are aspects of the plot that I was spoiled for, and I'm not sure whether I think that made it easier to deal with -- had I not gone in expecting it to be horror, I might have struggled more.
  4. A Taste of Homey (Kai Ashante Wilson) -- I read this one a while ago, and failed to make notes on it that I can find. Enjoyable, but not particularly memorable, what I liked most was the male/male romance plot line, and the interesting playing with time that was done.
  5. The Ballad of Black Tom (Victor LaVelle) -- I wanted to like this one more than I did. Gritty and gruesome and gory. And plain nasty, in the way that so much Cthulu mythos is. I get that the racism was so necessary to the story, and that it was probably understated in many ways, but it was heart breaking to read. Towards the middle, I struggled a bit to keep going — I was a bit on the bored side, but in the end it was worth it.
  6. The census taker (China Mievelle) -- As a general rule, I don't like Mievelle's work, so it was no real surprise that I didn't like this one either. I had no idea what is going on here and in the end, I don’t really care. There is too much elided by literary wankery, and not real story or idea of what is going on. I’m not interesting in deducing whether the unnamed woman was murdered or ran away.
fred_mouse: ceramic mouse-on-mushroom, viewed from behind (clay)
[personal profile] fred_mouse
I've been having a couple (three? four) days of being a bit unwell, a bit busy, a bit unmotivated. And so I've completely failed to remember to write anything. However, I've managed to finish two of the things on my started by not finished list - the second pussy hat (for friend S) and the reading of the Hugo novellas. I'll do a review post on that shortly.

Trying to work out what I've done in the meantime. I did some sewing on the 365 day quilt project (I'm now up to sewing the block for the 9th of February, and I have that through to the 13th cut out already). I'm not counting that in this, because it is a whole day project, not something I've picked up with the belief that I'll finish it in a day. However, I've been working on reconciling the team accounts for June, and it isn't going well (every time I find something I've missed, I make things worse. And I found something that may or may not mess up for June, but I *think* it is just how much someone owes, so that is okay). So that has been added to the list. And I've started cataloguing some of the set of books that have arrived, so that is another thing on the list. I'm feeling reasonably pleased that said list is still at six active items though, so I'm at least making progress on the things that I've started. At the point, I have two craft, two reading, and two paper work tasks.

Oh, and tables. Grouchiegrrl and family have moved house, and their new place doesn't have enough space for their lovely table. This is a much nicer table than the one that we have had for a while (also inherited from someone moving house). So, our table has gone with chaosmanor, to replace a rickety table that they have (along with one of the three tablecloths that were made specially to go with that table - one is in the wash, and the other is missing), grouchiegrrl's table has come to live with us (in theory long term loan, but we'll see how that pans out), and I'm pretty happy all up. The new one shrinks down to about the space that the old one did with the extra leaf in, so it isn't taking any extra space, but it also expands to a 1300mm square, allowing for three people on a side, when there are people visiting.

...ariaflame, their friend M, youngest, middlest, and their friend T are watching 'Mystery Men'. I lasted about 20 minutes before the sitting still and focusing was too much, but I'm at least listening to it (it is reminding me of things that I didn't enjoy - Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog, for one). Friend S was using the new table as a sewing cutting table, but has wandered off to do something else. And I'm about to a) write the novellas reviews, then b) read the novelettes, and then c) attempt to finish up the book cataloguing. Hopefully, this isn't too optimistic a list!

Bastille Friday

Jul. 14th, 2017 05:47 pm
nightdog_barks: (Dry Farmhouse)
[personal profile] nightdog_barks
Roofers are done, THANK GOD. We've lived in this house for thirty years and in that time we've had three (now four) new roofs put on, and every time I forget how INCREDIBLY NOISY IT IS. Good lord. Layla was mostly okay with it all -- she was more concerned at the end when one of the guys walked around the deck using a leaf blower (leaf blowers are her Mortal Enemy).

Reading Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts' Deaths of the Poets and liking it greatly.

Here is a very cool little clip of some kind of little white shorebirds making fantastic flashing patterns in flight. :D

The Nail Guns Next Door

Jul. 11th, 2017 06:07 pm
nightdog_barks: (Sunflower)
[personal profile] nightdog_barks
Because we had a huge hailstorm in the spring with golfball-sized hail, lots of folks in our area had to have their roofs replaced. Yesterday and today it was our next-door neighbor's turn. Tomorrow it will be OUR turn. :-P

I finished Lev Grossman's The Magicians, and, unlike so many of the people on Goodreads, I ... well, I loved it. I thought the story was engaging and I stayed up until almost 3 in the morning reading two nights in a row. I know the publisher apparently marketed it as "Harry Potter for grown-ups," but I'm one of the seven people on the planet who never read Harry Potter so I don't think I was coming to it with any real baggage. To me, there were echoes of Bret Easton Ellis (some people behave very badly in the book) and Ursula LeGuin, René Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. (Not to mention our old friend, Donna Tartt.) There was a point in the book when I thought, "Oh my god these people are HORRIBLE and I hope something bad happens to them!", and another point when I breathed, "Oh, shit!" when something very bad did begin to happen. Yes, there are a couple of missteps by the author, including a moment when a minor Native American character is described as having a "hooked nose." It's perfectly plausible that someone who IS Native American could have the facial characteristic of a hooked nose, but ... um. Not a comfortable moment. I winced and shook my head, and kept reading. And now I'm ordering Grossman's next book in the trilogy.

So. Two thumbs up, a strong recommendation for a gritty, lyrical story with some deeply flawed characters struggling to figure out life, love, and the whole nine yards.
fred_mouse: blurry image of cast metal mouse shape in a fruit bowl (pear)
[personal profile] fred_mouse
... after posting yesterday, when I thought it was completely unlikely that I would find a new thing to start, I did indeed do so, because one of the people at the dinner requested a pussy hat. Thus, I'm *still* knitting pussy hats. Which puts me back at 6 things - three craft, and three reading.

I've made progress on the novellas today, and I've done a bit of knitting, so at least I'm progressing some of the tasks on the list.

I've also done some things that haven't made it to the list - swept under the washing line, dealt with washing, spent some time trying to get the house under control. I've also cut more pieces for the 365 quilt blocks, but as that is ongoing, and isn't a thing that I've started during this collection time, I'm not adding that (I'm hoping to have the motivation to sew some tomorrow. I cut pieces for 9 3.5" squares, and I've already got the pieces for one more. A couple of them are down right trivial in execution).

However, every single on of the things I've done has wiped me out for quite some time after, so not as good a day as it might have been.
fred_mouse: crystal mouse, looking straight out at the viewer (crystal)
[personal profile] fred_mouse
At this point of the day (mid-afternoon) I have in fact started nothing new (other than a load of washing, which middlest was asked to hang up), but instead have been working on finishing things. Possibly not the most urgent of urgent things, but certainly ones with tight deadlines.

Finished is #7 - another pussy hat; in the process, I've also sewn up the last one that I had done previously, so that I have two to hand on to someone tonight to hand on to someone who is apparently taking them the Alice Springs.

This leaves me with five dangling tasks - 3 reading (Hugo novellas, Hugo novelletes, preterm feeding article) and two craft (cat blanket, zig-zag blanket). I've been steadily powering through the 12 stories for the Hugos -- I'm reading the fourth of six of the novellas. Given that this is a longer category than the novelettes, I'm hoping to have them done by Quite Late tonight. I'm going to be socialising this evening, but after that should have time to do more reading. So, at the end of the first week, I think it has been useful to track the new 'big' tasks that I start, so that I remember that I want to get them finished. And I'm quite pleased that there are *only* five, because I absolutely thought I was going to be more scatterbrained than that.

late night correctionWhen I got to the gathering, I got a request for another hat. So, I've started another one (I'm in to the plain section, so maybe half done?)


Part of the reason that I haven't started anything new is that I've not had much time at home, so I've been working on That Which Was Packed In The Basket -- all of which were tools for working on tasks that I want to make progress on. The day started (after a bit of a lie in, and then a small amount of pottering in the house) with an appointment at the chiropractors, where I managed to get a bit of the pussy hat done. From there, I stopped in at the skate rink (which is approximately on the way home), and spent a bit of time on the ice. Would have been longer, but the padded whatsit that goes over the front section of my foot had shifted, and the proto-bunion was rubbing and very very sharp. Home, a little bit of pottering, collect youngest, head to the ice rink, where they are having skate camp (yes, again. This is with a different extra coach) -- I'm still there at the time of writing. I've managed to alternate reading and crafting, and now probably have five minutes, so I'm going to finish up on this, and then try and get a few more pages of 'The Ballad of Black Tom' finished.
fred_mouse: Mummified mouse (dead)
[personal profile] fred_mouse
Sadly, while I did finish something today, I also added two other tasks (reading the Hugo nominated novelettes; reading the Hugo nominated Novellas), so I'm now at 6 incomplete tasks.


Other than that -- artisanat and I went for a walk to the local shops, where we stopped for a coffee. I hadn't expected to struggle with this, but was exhausted, and rested most of the rest of the day. A quick car trip out, coming home via the grocers, meant that we had veggies for dinner; kids did most of the work. Did not in the end watch a movie, because I wasn't coping with sound. Youngest has started watching Merlin (the relatively recent BBC TV series) and doesn't appear to hate it. Given that they watched two episodes of Heartland (Canadian TV series, lots of horses, possibly a soap opera for teens) and don't appear to have gone back to it, not sure whether I should read much in to this.

Tomorrow - chiropractor for me, skating for youngest, and then socialising in the evening. I *must* get some paperwork done - it is getting beyond me. Will have to find a spot to hide and ignore the rest of the skating parents while still being able to watch the ice (I think I'm going to be the team first-aider on site, although I'm not sure whether that is necessary during standard working hours, because I'm told many of the rink staff have first-aid training).

ETA: also, in this that I've been putting off that haven't made it to this list - today I moved the ironing board into the spot in the lounge that means I can get to it while I'm sewing but it isn't taking up too much space in that room.

Weekend uncluttering

Jul. 9th, 2017 10:01 pm
fred_mouse: cross stitched image reading "do not feed the data scientists" (Default)
[personal profile] fred_mouse
ETA: So, apparently, being Quite Tired when I wrote this last night, I posted this to my personal blog, not to the [community profile] unclutter comm. For anyone who isn't already aware of it, this is a support comm for people trying to sort out the clutter in their lives, one thing at a time. If this sounds like your kind of thing, head on over and join us. At the moment, prompt posts to tell us what you have achieved (even the small stuff. especially the small stuff) happen three times a week, but people are welcome to post any time they want to tell what they have achieved.

How did everyone's uncluttering go this weekend?

Sadly, I think I have nothing to report. Yesterday I spent working on getting caught up on a couple of things; today I slothed, then partner and I walked to the local shops where we had a coffee, and then I rested for the remainder of the afternoon.

... Oh, I cleaned the rubbish out of the car! The car is a little tidier, because there wasn't as much as there sometimes is. It might be that I've finally trained either myself or my kids to take the rubbish in when it gets created. ... nah, probably just because it is school holidays, and I'm not feeding teenagers whilst in transit between school, home, and extracurriculars.

Reading: Creativity Rising

Jul. 9th, 2017 02:40 pm
fred_mouse: line drawing of mouse sitting on its butt reading a large blue book (reading)
[personal profile] fred_mouse
These notes are from 10-3-2017, when I was reading up for the next tutorial that I was running

Currently reading: ‘Creativity Rising: Creative thinking and creative problem solving in the 21st century” [Puccio, Gerald J., Marie Mance, Laura Barbero Switalski, and Paul D. Really; 2012; Buffalo, NY: ICSC Press]

and I’ve come across the following:

“As of 2011, more Americans own smartphones than have a bachelor’s degree. We’re not sure what this says, but it might have something to do with how we’re outsourcing some of our memory to the Internet”

I call bullshit. I’d say the overwhelming reason that more Americans (and presumably people in other countries as well) have smartphones than a bachelor’s degree is cost. I bought a brand new, relatively expensive smartphone off the shelf for less than 1/2 of the cost of a single unit at the lowest cost level for an Australian undergrad degree.

And I’d bet that the second most relevant reason is that smartphones are not only very useful, but nearly essential for the running of their lives for a vast majority of people. They are not toys, but tools, and for many people, they are tools that allow more flexibility, or more control, or just more to happen in their lives.

Assorted other notes... )

Hugo Short Stories

Jul. 9th, 2017 02:09 pm
fred_mouse: line drawing of mouse sitting on its butt reading a large blue book (reading)
[personal profile] fred_mouse
I have finished a thing previously started! This time, it is reading the Hugo Short Stories nominations (yes, I see the pattern - I start a range of things, but the ones that get finished quickly tend to the reading at the moment)

In the order in which I would vote for them:

  1. Seasons of Glass and Iron (Amal El-Mohtar) - beautiful reimagining of two fairy tales, in which the women become the actors in their own stories, becomes friends, and are the agents of their own salvation (as well as the salvation of their friends). 5/5
  2. Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies (Brooke Bolander) - beautiful, fierce, angry. A story of a survivor, not a victim; a story that does not glorify, does not name, does not advertise the perpetrator. Slightly experimental format works for this one.5/5
  3. The City born Great (N K Jemisin) - very powerful, based on a fascinating conceit -- that of the birth of a city, and the role of the midwife. 5/5
  4. That game we played during the war (Carrie Vaughn) - I found this one a bit belaboured; the story of a nurse from one side of the war who goes to visit a major from the other side. Set post war, the most interesting aspect of the story is that the nurse is from the side that are not telepaths, and so everything she feels and thinks is obvious to absolutely everyone around her. 3/5
  5. A fist of permutations in lightening and wildflowers (Alyssa Wong) - I really struggled with this one. I get that it is multiple time lines, and multiple ends of the world, but I really couldn't work out what I was supposed to be getting out of it. 3/5

    And then there is "An unimaginable light" (John C Wright), which I chose not to finish. I made a valiant effort, but the set up at the beginning is of a naked objectified female (robot) who is being judged by an over-dressed, portly male (human). That was hard enough to take, but the obsession of the latter with putting the former in her place was nasty, and when it escalated to him hitting her and telling her that she can't feel pain, she is just programmed to believe that she feels pain -- that was when I noped out. 0/5
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