umadoshi: (kittens - sleeping)
[personal profile] umadoshi
Fannish/Geeky/SFF Things

"Seanan McGuire on What She Learned From October, Plus a Sweeps!" The interview is about what writing Toby's series (AKA her first novel and series) taught her, and the contest, which is open until September 30, is for all eleven books to date.

"Transcript for OTW 10th Anniversary Chat with Seanan McGuire & Martha Wells".

"Exclusive Interview and ARC Giveaway: In Other Lands author, Sarah Rees Brennan". This contest has closed, alas, but I really liked the interview (and its entirely appropriate attention to mermaids): "My protagonist Elliot is a huge nerd, so when he arrives in a magical world he immediately asks ‘Show me the mermaids!’ rather than ‘Explain to me this strange word… magic…’ and mermaids are for him a shorthand for him wanting to behold the many wonders on offer in a magic land–in other words, harpies, unicorns and mermaids, oh my. He then keeps asking about the mermaids, having lessons about them, researching them, getting different answers about mermaids from different people, until he finally does meet one–with consequences I will not spoil for those who do not yet know!"

"Sci-fi author Martha Wells on writing a series about a robot that calls itself Murderbot".

"‘SHEroes’: Wonder Woman meets Bionic Woman". "Lindsay Wagner, aka Jamie Sommers or “The Bionic Woman,” posted her photo with Lynda Carter, aka Diana Prince or “Wonder Woman,” on her Facebook page recently and, as expected, fans went wild with nostalgia."

"Superheroes for the Jewish New Year". [Book Riot]

Over at [dreamwidth.org profile] ladybusiness, [dreamwidth.org profile] renay posted a great interview with Kate Elliott.

"Present-Day Devices as Props". "Every Star Trek production requires a large number of props to act as technical devices of Starfleet or of aliens. There are custom prop designs for standard phasers, tricorders or communicators. But in most cases there is a need for additional props that either serve a specific purpose in the story or are used as generic futuristic decoration. Several of the props that could be seen are actually slightly modified devices of the 20th/21st century. In particular, game consoles have been used repeatedly for handheld scanners."

Sarah Gailey (author of the hippo-wrangling AUs River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow) currently has an unrelated serial, The Fisher of Bones, running in Fireside Magazine, who've just announced that the whole story is now available for preorder (and...get the ending before folks who're reading it/choose to keep reading it in serialization, which seems a bit odd to me, but sure).


TV/movie news

"Linda Hamilton Set to Return to 'Terminator' Franchise".

"MISS. FISHER’S MURDER MYSTERIES Movie Is a Go, Thanks to Kickstarter".

"“Madam Secretary” Showrunner Barbara Hall Developing CIA Drama for CBS" about "a multigenerational family of spies."

"The real hero of Netflix's "The Defenders" is the way Jessica Jones throws very heavy things".

"REPORT: Marvel Studios Developing a Power Pack Feature Film".


Miscellaneous

"Dictionary of the Oldest Written Language–It Took 90 Years to Complete, and It’s Now Free Online". [Open Culture]

"A 68 Hour Playlist of Shakespeare’s Plays Being Performed by Great Actors: Gielgud, McKellen & More". [Open Culture, 2015]

"Street Artist Paints Fantastic Fake Shadows Under Objects Perplexing Sidewalk Pedestrians Walking By".
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Last night, R and I watched a bunch of documentaries, including one on Willie Nelson, which referenced his smash album Red Headed Stranger.

R: In the RV park, Red Headed Stranger is the only album I feel comfortable playing over my external speaker system. It’s the only music everyone can agree they like.

Sam: Isn’t Red Headed Stranger a concept album about going on the run after murdering your family?

R: People can relate. 

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umadoshi: (walking in water)
[personal profile] umadoshi
I'll work backwards (chronologically) in this post.

I just finished registering and paying for the Friday evening class (for which [dreamwidth.org profile] wildpear and [dreamwidth.org profile] seolh were already registered), so I guess it's now a definite Thing That Will Be Happening. Time to spend the next week and a half trying to get back in the habit of stretching regularly. >.>

There was some uncertainty before I successfully got registered. The online registration process was straightforward for the trial class, but two things happened almost simultaneously re: the actual class. 1) I got a follow-up email from the studio saying they hoped I'd enjoyed the trial class and listing the beginner timeslots that still had openings...a list which did not include the one I wanted (AKA the one my friends were already registered for, not to mention being the only one that could conceivably work with Casual Job going on), and 2) the online class schedule/registration form showed "(3 Reserved, 5 Open)", but didn't have a "sign up now" button (which some others did). TBH, I still have NO clue what's going on there, but after exchanging some emails with the studio, we established that the class did have openings, and now I've given them money, so I should be good to go.

As for the actual trial class on Friday, it could get long, and involves fitness talk, so I'll put it under a cut )
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Come in, please, come in. I can’t entertain you shipboard as I once could, but there is tea and plenty of food, and I understand you’ve done well for yourself at the gambling tables. I suppose I can afford to lose a little now and then. My late first husband was a wealthy man and I magnified his wealth – well, you know how.

I think there should be discipline in everything, you know, even lawlessness. When I ruled the sea and the Red Flag Fleet, no one disobeyed me. Literally. Those who did were beheaded. But, on the other hand, I think my rule was mainly benificent. Did you know I forbade those under my command to steal from villagers who supplied us? That only made sense, of course. Death was also the sentence for any assault on a female captive. One makes these laws when one grows up as I did.

I also insisted that anything taken from town or ship was to be presented, registered, and given out amongst all – oh, the original taker got a percentage, and twenty percent is better than nothing, you know. That’s how you keep a sailor happy.

My dear second husband, he also issued some laws, I suppose, but they weren’t written down or very well enforced. What were they? Who knows. What does it matter? My laws were what mattered.

Eventually, of course, it became easier just to tax the local cities than to keep sacking them. Nicer for all concerned and not so much work for us. Bureaucracy will have its day, sooner or later, always.

That is how I came to be here, you know; several years ago, after I defeated their entire Navy, the government offered amnesty to pirates. Well they might; what other option did they have? But I was wealthy, so why should I continue to work when I was no longer a criminal? It was in 1810 that I left crime behind forever and opened this little gambling house. Here I am content, you know, and I think I will be until I die. Hopefully not for a long, long time!

Oh, I am called many things. I was born Shi Xianggu, and I am called Cheng I Sao, sometimes, but mostly I am known as Ching Shih – the Widow Ching, wife of two pirates, but a pirate empress myself.

(After all, it’s Talk Like A Pirate day, not Talk Like Every Pirate day. I chose Ching Shih.)

(Also if you enjoyed this, consider dropping some spare change in my Ko-Fi!)

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umadoshi: text: "Witch! Get over here!" + "Hey! That's DOCTOR Witch to you!" (AGAHF - doctor witch)
[personal profile] umadoshi
[dreamwidth.org profile] sovay went to a vampire movie marathon earlier this month and wrote about the movies. (If you read and enjoy the post, remember that [dreamwidth.org profile] sovay has a Patreon for film reviews!)

"Tag Yourself, I Am the Irish Bat Dad". "The video was filmed by Tadhg Fleming, and went viral when reposted by @jonnohopkins, and if you haven't seen it then I would describe it as 'the Citizen Kane of portrait-mode Snapchat stories about a bat getting in'. But I would like you to now avert your gaze away from the video and instead turn it deep inwards. Who are you? What are you? What is the very spirit of you? Your essence? You know it. But sometimes it's hard to express. Who, exactly, are you: are you a mood, a note on a piano, a taste, a feeling? Are you light, colour, heat, sound? Whatever you are, I think you can find yourself in this video. I think you can tag yourself in amongst the chaos. Here are some suggested tags – feel free to add your own:"

"This is How Canada Talks".

"BPD and the Pace of Friendship". [author Mishell Baker]

"10+ Adorable Comics That Hilariously Sum Up What It’s Like Living With A Dog".

"Meet the man fighting to save our country's rarest chickens".

Genevieve Valentine posted her red-carpet rundown for the Emmys.

"Octlantis is a just-discovered underwater city engineered by octopuses".

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] calissa, "A Digression About Storytelling, Narratives, and Diversity by Bárbara Morais". [The Book Smugglers]



Several links via [dreamwidth.org profile] alisanne:

--"100 Common Myths & Misconceptions: The world's most widespread falsehoods - debunked!"

--"What Happens When People Are Bored At Work (10+ Pics)".

--"Celebrities Re-Created 1940s Hollywood Glamour Shots And They're Gorgeous". [Buzzfeed]

--"10+ Dogs Who Don’t Understand How BIG They Are And Think They’re Lap Dogs".

--"Spite Houses: 12 Homes Created With Anger and Angst". [2015]

--"Amateur Vs. Pro: How Differently The Same ‘Ugly’ Location Looks When You Become A Professional Photographer".

--"10 Badass Trees That Refuse To Die".

--"28 Precious Vintage Photos of Children With Their Pets".

--"This Russian Photographer Captures Stunning Photos Of Kids And Their Pets".

(no subject)

Sep. 18th, 2017 07:45 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Before we start, a quick note because I've had a handful of issues with this lately -- if you want to bring a cause to my attention the best way to go about it is to fill out the Radio Free Monday form (also linked from the sidebar of my tumblr page). It's not just that I might not see a post tagged to me or that it saves me a ton of time, but also that it makes sure I get the information I need to describe the situation, link the appropriate pages, and name and gender people correctly.

The form doesn't ask many questions, doesn't pull any metadata (literally it doesn't even record the date you entered the information), and is as anonymous as you want it to be -- there are options for complete or partial anonymity for the person submitting the item.

Ways To Give:

[tumblr.com profile] prismatic-bell linked to a fundraiser for Congregation Beth Yeshurun and their attached day school, which were flooded by Hurricane Harvey, which hit two Jewish neighborhoods in Houston especially hard. The families are currently attending Temple Brith Israel, and the children from the day school have had to scatter among several schools temporarily. You can read more about the damage here, reblog here, give directly to the rebuilding fund, or purchase toys and learning materials or replacement books for the school directly through Amazon.

[tumblr.com profile] reesa-chan is preparing for surgery and gathering supplies to make recovery go as smoothly as possible, but they're coming up short on a few things and surgery is looming. They have a Amazon Wishlist available here and have their paypal giving page here.

Anon linked to a fundraiser for [tumblr.com profile] poplitealqueen, who is trying to help her mother get some experimental medical treatment which might allow her mobility without the use of a wheelchair. You can read more and reblog here (including links at the top to Patreon and Ko-fi) or give directly to their Ko-Fi here.

[tumblr.com profile] quinfirefrorefiddle linked to a fundraiser for [tumblr.com profile] niines9s, who is trying to escape an abusive home and needs funding for housing after graduation. They are offering commissions and also taking donations; you can read more, reblog, and find paypal information at their post.

Anon linked to news about a Christian group, Faithfully LGBT, who are fundraising to aid transgender people with gender-confirming surgeries as a way of atoning for religious discrimination against transgender people. You can read and reblog the story here or give directly to the Tithe Campaign here.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and has a fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.

News To Know:

Anon linked to a post called Saving Your Grades From A Mental Health Crisis, which is about what to do if you're in college and dealing with mental illness.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.
umadoshi: (Yotsuba&! at play 1 (ohsnap_icons))
[personal profile] umadoshi
I have good intentions about reporting back on the trial aerial silks class, but for now: I survived, I am nowhere near as bendy as I used to (SHOCKING, I know), and I'm almost definitely going to sign up for the actual class but haven't done so yet. (I did check and make sure it's not right on the verge of being full. Right now the registration site says five out of eight slots are still free, and one of the three claimed slots is [dreamwidth.org profile] seolh.)

I already mentioned the key bit of this on Twitter ([twitter.com profile] MermaidLure, not [twitter.com profile] ysabet_m), but I went from that studio's website to the one of the place where I took nearly all of my dance classes, long and long ago. exercise classes and my dance history (such as it is) and whatnot )

Garden stuff!

Our tomato harvest is a bit awkwardly sized: we're bringing in enough fruit that [dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose is having a bit of trouble keeping up with eating them, but not enough that we think (at useful times) of foisting some off on people because we're ~drowning in tomatoes~ or anything. There also aren't enough at one time to make it obvious that we can/should just cook up a big batch of sauce or something. It's a little weird.

Anyway, it being fall means that our thoughts have turned to planting bulbs! A couple of days ago we placed an order with Vesey's, in which [dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose and I ordered 30 Prince Claus snow crocuses, 40 Tricolor snow crocuses, 30 of the Snow Crocus Mix bulbs, 20 of the Jessie starflowers, and 20 of the Mixed Daffodils mix.

...I didn't fully process until just now, typing that all up, that this means we bought 100 crocus bulbs. I mean, I knew, but...it just didn't seem like that many, somehow. La!

I was seriously tempted by some irises, but we opted against them. The German and Bearded varieties are beautiful but expensive, and we didn't really have an idea of where to put them, and this lovely Dutch Iris Mix starts at a package of 75 bulbs. O_o

We also ordered another set of three tomato halos, but not another set of the stackable tomato ladders, as we discovered this year that Canadian Tire offers very similarly-shaped tomato cages that can be stacked on top of the Vesey's ones. This'll bring us up to six each of the halos and the Vessey's ladder segments, which are meant to slot together, and then we can use the Canadian Tire ones for height. (You can see our current arrangement fairly well in the third picture here, where the red components are from Vessey's and the green ones--which aren't meant to be stackable, but do come in a longer version if we ever want still more height--are from Canadian Tire. This year, with our ten tomato plants, some of the green ones got pressed into service in as single-segment supports, but at the far left you can see a plant with a base Vesey's ladder plus a Canadian Tire one for height.)
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Wow, you guys, the me of 2014 was such a good bro, he bought an extra three years of premium-level warranty coverage on his laptop.

I wasn’t even looking for whether I was still covered by warranty, I just assumed I wasn’t, but I went to Dell’s website to get the model number of my laptop so I could look up how to open it up properly and fix the terrible groaning noise my fan is making. And Dell was like hey, here’s your model number, also your warranty is good through June of 2018. 

I’m still gonna try to open it up and fix the fan myself, but if I can’t, I can send it in and get the fan fixed AND get a repair on the housing that’s starting to crack. 

Good job, 2014 Sam. You had no idea the crazy shit that was ahead of you but by god you knew you’d need three years of warranty. You and me, buddy, we’re fucking killing it in the adulting department lately. 

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[personal profile] copperbadge
Me: R’s in town this weekend so we may meet up.

Mum: Send me a picture of you and R when you’re hanging out!

Me: Not sure when it’ll be yet but I’ll do my best. It’s a little uncertain right now.

Mum: If it were certain, I’d be worried it wasn’t really R.

She knows us both so well. 

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Linkspam: fannish/geeky, cute, misc.

Sep. 15th, 2017 12:40 pm
umadoshi: (Tori "feel the word" (gold_dust))
[personal profile] umadoshi
Fannish/Geeky Things

"Q&A: Guillermo del Toro's highly personal monster film 'The Shape of Water' speaks to 'what I feel as an immigrant'".

"Nintendo Is Resurrecting The NES Classic Mini And Increasing SNES Classic Inventory". (I'm trying to carefully balance skepticism and renewed hope that I might be able to lay hands on a classic mini.)

"Check Out Super Cute Character Visuals from Sanrio x 'Fullmetal Alchemist' Collaboration Project".

There's a Kickstarter happening for a Miss Fisher movie.


Cute Stuff

"Kitten Livestreams: Get Your Daily Dose of Cute". [Front Page Meews] "You read that right – there are kitten livestreams on the Internet, and you could be watching them right now! I’m highlighting three of my favorites that I think you’d enjoy too, so read on to discover the next best thing to live kitten cuddle time."

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] jimhines, photos of hens adopting other animals and "The 100 Greatest Owl Pictures You’ll Ever See".

"All This 5-Year-Old Wants To Do Is Help Save Street Cats: “He said it makes him feel like a superhero for animals.”".

"This Maine Coon Is About To Break A World Record For The Longest Fluffiest Tail".

"I Take My Wolfdog On Epic Adventures Because I Hate To See Dogs Locked Away".

[dreamwidth.org profile] naye posted a heap of adorable LaPerm kitty photos from July!

"These Photos of Celebs with Puppies at TIFF are Doggone Adorable: Celebs took a break during the Toronto International Film Festival to hang out with some adorable pups from Finding Them Homes".


Miscellaneous

"Tori Amos’ lost hair metal album ‘Y Kant Tori Read’ gets a digital release (listen)".

I think this is the first interview I've read where Tori talks about the inspiration behind her new album: "Tori Amos: 'Menopause is the hardest teacher I've met. Harder than fame': A walk in the Smoky Mountains in the footsteps of her late Cherokee grandfather helped the musician rediscover her muse – and write an album that confronts the US’s rapacious violence".

Via a few people, "Delta flight beats Hurricane Irma: A tense series of events as a Delta flight from New York attempts to land in San Juan, Puerto Rico and leave before Hurricane Irma hits". [Twitter "Moment"]

Have you all read the story of the time Seanan McGuire's Alice!kitty stowed away on a plane?

"36 Websites That Will Change Your Entire Fucking Life". [Buzzfeed, offering a range of actually useful and/or quite quirky]

"Identity Theft, Credit Reports, and You". [US-focused]

"Why I Will Never Stop Being Glad That Hillary Clinton Refuses to “Go Away”".

Via several people: "The last surviving sea silk seamstress". [BBC]

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] sovay, "Lost Languages Discovered in One of the World’s Oldest Continuously Run Libraries". [Smithsonian]
umadoshi: (Tori blindfolded - Spark vid (snuddles))
[personal profile] umadoshi
Updates re: my last post:

--Bathroom window installation is not happening tomorrow, but we're still hoping it'll get done next week. (This entails putting the window in front scratch, not simply replacing an existing one. And once it's done, we'll have to figure out details of what else we want to do, in terms of the extent/specifics of renovating the room. More on that some other time, I imagine.)


--[dreamwidth.org profile] seolh is up for taking the trial class for beginner aerial silks with me tomorrow, despite having already done it once with [dreamwidth.org profile] wildpear. It'll be good to see her, and also, I didn't realize just how anxious I'd gotten over the thought of going alone until she said she'd come too and it lifted. I'm still anxious about other things relating to going to the class, but this feels much, much better. (Now to figure out what I'm going to wear. o_o I have options, but are any of them good options?)

It's amazing how soon Yuletide is. As usual, despite not having any intentions of participating, I find myself keeping an eye on the unofficial nominations spreadsheets and people's fandom-rec posts/comments, partly to just see what's catching people's attention this year and partly (shocking no one) to see if there are any folks out there who I don't already know who're enough into the Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire canons to be nominating any. (Which, yes, we can fine-tune down to "is anyone nominating/will anyone be requesting Newsflesh?", but that's not the only reason.)

(There's a "Praise! Your! Fandoms! Get others interested!" post on [dreamwidth.org profile] yuletide, if anyone's interested/inspired.)

Meanwhile, In Other Lands (née The Turn of the Story) is still new enough that I keep seeing people discussing or reviewing it, and it makes me grin every time.

[dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose and I are talking about improving our financial habits, in terms of both a more informative spreadsheet for tracking income/expenditures and an attempt at more actual budgeting. just a few lines (mostly) about how I buy books, but cut 'cause finances )

The good news for my wallet is that I somehow entirely missed when Tori Amos' North American tour dates were announced in...July? Anyway, a few days ago I suddenly clued in and looked and realized she's playing Massey Hall in Toronto on October 30th. For most of the year I've been telling myself firmly that 2017 is a ONE-Toronto-trip year, but for a day or so I wavered a lot while checking the price range, noticing that Air Canada had a relevant sale, verifying that crash-space arrangements would be good...all while reminding myself that Casual Job will definitely (insofar as anything can be definite there) still be happening then and it'd have to be a super-short visit...and then I finally checked actual ticket availability, not just the price range, and that was the nail in the coffin. (It's not that there aren't any tickets at all, but [reasons].)

It's not that I'm desperate to see this tour, anyway (which I guess is obvious from my failure to try harder to make it work out), but that I always think, what if it's her last tour??? You never know. She's not old, by any stretch, but a few years ago she talked about maybe wrapping up her touring days. Clearly she opted against it then, or even soon after, since she's still at it, but what if, what if, what if... (I actually haven't listened to the new album right through yet, and I have no expectation of loving it--I haven't truly loved an album of hers since Scarlet's Walk in 2002 or so--but damn, she still does an incredible live show, and draws on her entire back catalogue.)
umadoshi: (purple hair)
[personal profile] umadoshi
I got an email today saying our application to foster kitties has been approved! ^_^ [personal profile] scruloose and I followed instructions and read the attached foster manual, and then I emailed to confirm that we'd done that, so now we'll be added to the "This critter needs fostering! Who'll take them?" mailing list.

The "manual" covers a lot of ground and is very reasonable. The only significant thing I'm unsure of--and will ask the shelter about--is the degree of deep cleaning/sterilization we'll have to do between fosterlings, presuming there aren't any health issues with the departing one(s). The manual specifies that one fosterling's cat toys aren't to be kept for the next one(s) to use unless they can be bleached, but said nothing about food/water dishes and the litter box and stuff. There's a lot of room between "scrub thoroughly" and "decontaminate absolutely every object and surface a fosterling touched".

My hair's purple-with-turquoise-streaks got brightened up today, and the undercut shaved almost right down to the skin (a #0 buzz cut, [personal profile] scruloose says; it was probably a #1 last time, and when I buzzed all of my hair a few years ago I think we did it at #3). My stylist and I set a longer appointment for late-ish November to lighten the shade of purple a bit.

I can feel the air on the lower back of my skull. It's very weird.

Just over a week before I head back to the office for the fall Casual Job stint. o_o What the hell, time? And somehow we have a lot packed in between now and then:

--I need to rewrite at least a volume's worth of manga (between two projects) and do some prose proofreading.

--In a burst of "wait, that kind of exercise class could actually be FUN", I signed up to take a trial beginner aerial silks class this Friday. [dreamwidth.org profile] wildpear was talking about it because she and [dreamwidth.org profile] seolh just did a trial class and are gonna take the actual class, and it sounds neat, so I was kinda like "I wanna play too!!!" Which...I usually keep in my head, because OH, HI, ANXIETY! But here we are. (If I like the trial and sign up for the class, there's going to be the constant possibility of missing it due to work, but on Fridays I'm usually done by a reasonable time, so an evening class in walking distance of the office would be doable.)

--It sounds like there's actually a reasonable chance (!) that the bathroom window [personal profile] scruloose and I spent the summer waiting to have installed will actually get installed within the next week or so. Given the domino of things we want to do with that room, all of which rely on getting the damn window put in, that would be very nice indeed. (And also made of upheaval, which is a lot of strain on my nerves, but I will cope. Oh, and technically it's possible we could have a fosterling by then! Which'd mean putting Claudia and Jinksy into [personal profile] scruloose's office for the day, not the spare room.)

--We have a follow-up vet appointment next week to get the cats their feleuk updates (since we avoid having them get more than one vaccination in a sitting), and to talk to the vet in more detail about how Claudia's annual ultrasound went. (I mean, other than Claud's unbroken streak of being so cooperative that she didn't need to be sedated at all, despite having a patch of fur shaved and goo smeared on her, plus a blood draw. Our girl is such a trooper.)

--Then the weekend after this one--so the day after Casual Job starts up--is Hal-Con, and knowing that it's a month or so earlier than usual (and how odd to have a sense of the "usual", since last year was the first time we went) doesn't actually help much with the "BUT HOW IS IT HAPPENING ALREADY???" feeling.
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
You guys today I researched someone who is such a rank evil motherfucker that the person who was going to meet them to ask for money came over to my desk after seeing my research and was like “What a rank evil motherfucker.” 

And I was like I DIDN’T EVEN PUT THE WORST OF IT IN BECAUSE WE CAN’T PROVE THE WORST STUFF SINCE IT’S ALL TECHNICALLY SPECULATION BY LIBERAL WATCHDOG GROUPS BUT I KNOW THEY DID IT. They gave millions of dollars to climate-change denial (which I learned today is referred to as CLIMATE INACTIVISM) two weeks ago. 

But I am heartened that a) the fundraiser saw through my VERY CAREFULLY professionally neutral report to the truth of the matter and b) they called their boss and were like “I’m not taking this meeting” and THEIR BOSS read my report and said “Yeah this is a PR disaster waiting to happen, don’t take the meeting.”

And normally I’d be like “yes take their money, take it all, take them for everything you can wring from them” but what makes this one so unsettling is that their donations always come with creepy post-contract strings. If we take the money, we’re gonna pay for it down the line, so I’m just as glad we aren’t. 

Once in a while in my profession I come across someone who is such a force for destruction on an international scale that I genuinely hope they will die in some very public and ironic way. I yearn for the day I read of their demise.

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(no subject)

Sep. 11th, 2017 07:40 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways To Give:

Anon linked to a fundraiser for Melissa, a trans girl who recently escaped an abusive home and is struggling to make ends meet. She has been unable to get car insurance, and is also recovering from expenses and injuries from a recent accident. You can read more and help out here.

[tumblr.com profile] nivcharayahel and her sister are raising funds for help with September's rent, to avoid eviction; they are dealing with recent unemployment and underemployment. You can read more and help out here.

[tumblr.com profile] butnotinthisone is dealing with fallout from hurricane Harvey, including being unable to return to their apartment due to continued flooding; their apartment is on the first floor and they will likely be facing property loss and damage from the water. You can read more and help out here.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and has a fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.

Help For Free:

[livejournal.com profile] rua_m linked to Zooniverse, specifically their Weather Rescue project, which allows you to help recover forgotten weather data by transcribing Ben Nevis observatory records. Zooniverse is a great site that lets people participate in citizen science and historical preservation by categorizing and transcribing documents; I'm actually a member and work on some of their animal-related stuff.

Anon linked to Halloween Lifestyle, a Halloween website recently put up (and so still a little sparse) by the mother of [tumblr.com profile] nextrrickanvils. You can read more and reblog here or go directly to the site here.

Housing:

[personal profile] in_the_bottle is looking for a new housemate in London, in Fulham SW6, bordering Hammersmith. Two professional females, at least one fandom friendly. You can read more and get in touch here; they also have an ad up on SpareRoom here with photos.


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copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
On April 1, 1985, a piece by George Plimpton was published in Sports Illustrated, called “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch”. It presented a new rookie pitcher for the Mets: Sidd Finch, an aspirant Buddhist monk and French horn aficionado, who could throw a pitch around 160mph. If you’re not familiar with baseball, a 90mph pitch is a good ticket to the majors, and the fastest pitch on record is around 105mph. The article was a joke, of course – April Fool’s – but the reaction especially among Mets fans was electric. Within sports journalism it’s widely considered to be one of the best hoaxes of all time.

Plimpton eventually expanded the article into a novel in 1987, and I finally got around to digging it up and reading it – it’s what I’ve been reading on the train to the last few Railcats games of the season. The Curious Case of Sidd Finch, as a novel, is in a way a time capsule; it captures a very weird era for the country and a pre-player’s strike, pre-Moneyball era for baseball. But it’s not really a book about baseball, despite Plimpton being primarily a sports journalist. It’s easily accessible if you don’t know a ton about the game, primarily because neither does Sidd Finch.

Rather, the book struck me as drawing heavily on what I think of as the “parable novel”, a genre popular in the seventies – part religious/philosophical treatise and part self-help book disguised as a fictional narrative (the most famous is probably Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach).

The novel’s narrator and fictional author is Robert Temple, a former journalist living in Florida and suffering from a decade-long writer’s block; he literally can’t write anything, including shopping lists and notes to self. (I’ll come back to this.) By a chance of fate he learns that the Mets have a rookie player named Sidd Fitch who can throw a 160mph fastball with uncanny accuracy, but who is still uncertain he actually wants to sign with the club. After getting thrown out of his boarding house for bringing a girl over, Sidd and his girlfriend Debbie Sue end up living with Temple at the request of the Mets, who hope Temple can convince him to sign with the team while he attends spring training in Florida.

It’s a really compelling read with enjoyable characters, and there’s some good tension set up in the question of whether Sidd will sign with the Mets, and whether it would be good for both Sidd and the sport as a whole for him to do so. And I appreciated that the one full pro game Sidd pitches isn’t the climax of the book – this is not a book about sport but a book that uses sport to meditate on other matters.

It does have its issues, however. Temple, the narrator, draws the reader in because we understand that he was a writer and no longer is, but we don’t know why – we know he’s suffered some terrible psychological blow, just not exactly what: 

If he had taken the time to check it out, he would have discovered that I was not capable of writing a paragraph, much less a line of copy. I was a completely defused member of the communications industry. 

[….]

I took my sister by the elbow afterward and I said, “Well, that’s my problem, isn’t it? I’m not really alive. I’m perhaps a quarter alive.”

“You’re coming along,” she said. 

I think it would have been best for that information to come out slowly in drips here and there, perhaps eventually being told more fully when Temple explains to Sidd or Debbie Sue why he can’t write. Instead we get an early-on chapter about it – basically a brief autobiography where he goes to Vietnam to cover the war as a journalist, has a breakdown, and retires to Florida where he fills empty days with pointless tasks as a way of keeping himself alive. It’s…not the most interesting chapter. And then he can’t really explain it to the others because we’ve already sat through it once. 

This complicated history is also a problem with Sidd, our young pitcher – Sidd is struggling with both his faith and what his purpose in life should be, and that’s immediately something people can identify with. The issue is that Plimpton, the actual author, built on the biography he created for Sidd in the Sports Illustrated article, which was a joke and thus comedically complicated. Sidd is an orphan from England adopted by an English anthropologist who then died in a plane crash when Sidd was a teenager, and he found Buddhism while looking for his father in the Himalayas. Sidd also, randomly, is very good at the French horn. This is a complex backstory for a baseball player and it’s not entirely well-told within the boundaries of the book, though it’s also a pretty ripping adventure story as Sidd runs away from boarding school to look for his dad and eventually ends up an aspirant monk who uses Buddhists lung-gom teachings to train himself to throw a 160mph baseball.

We never really get to the heart of why Sidd walked up to a Mets talent scout one day and decided to get himself recruited; there are hints here and there, and it does lead to a masterful set of discussions about why baseball is a game for mystics:

“Why baseball?” Frank Cashen asked. “Why didn’t he go back to England and play cricket?” 

Dr. Burns put his fingertips together. “Baseball is the perfect game for the mystic mind. Cricket is unsatisfactory because it has time strictures. The clock is involved. Play is called. The players stop for tea. No! No! No!” Burns sounded quite petulant. “On the other hand, baseball is so open to infinity. No clocks. No one pressing the buttons on stopwatches. The foul lines stretch to infinity. In theory, the game of baseball can go on indefinitely.” 

[…]

“I got very interested in the idea of causing a commotion at Point B when standing a long distance away at Point A. To throw an object that connects those two points is a very heady thing to be able to do…especially if you can do it time and time again with accuracy. It is something archers and hunters know all about – the trigonometric closing of lines.” 

[…]

I suddenly had a clear image of what Sidd was doing to the game. It was what the listeners were suggesting – he was changing the properties and the essence of the ball itself. It struck me how often the ball is inspected during a game, as if anyone who touches it has to make sure the ball has not changed its properties. If the ball disappears over the fence, another, like a youngster’s dream pinball game, emerges from a black sack at the umpire’s side. He looks at it and gives it to the catcher, who rubs it briefly, and after a glance fires it out to the pitcher; he looks at the ball and rubs it with both hands, his glove dangling from its wrist strap, and then, as he stares down at the catcher for the signal, his fingers maneuver over its surface feeling for the comfort of some response – yes, this time it will do exactly as he wishes! […] Football players do not have this kind of kinship with their ball. Most of the players don’t even touch the thing during the course of a game. It sits stolidly on the grass. The center comes up over the ball from the huddle and barely giving it a glance turns it under his hands; his eyes are staring across the line of scrimmage at the unpleasant visage of the nose guard opposite. A defensive tackle is so uncomfortable with the ball that if he chances to pick it up on the practice-field he tends to throw it end over end to get rid of it. […] Tennis balls are not kept on the mantlepiece. Too many of them around. Who cares?
 

But there’s never that moment where Sidd says, this is why I came to America to play baseball. Especially since he knows so little about it going in. I suppose Plimpton had to make him a foreigner so he wouldn’t know much about the sport, but honestly, you can grow up in America and not know much about baseball, especially at the pro level. Though I do enjoy some of the eccentricities of the game that Plimpton chose to focus on: 

“They have shown me the heavy ring that one slides on the bat to make it seem lighter. I had thought originally that the heavy ring was a talisman to bless the wood. No! One has only oneself to rely on within the confines of the batting box.” 

There’s also some pretty lowered stakes in this book because everyone, even Sidd, is wealthy. Temple can afford to do nothing all day for a decade while still seeing an expensive private therapist about his writer’s block (and eventually supporting Sidd and Debbie Sue when they move in) because his family is rich and supportive. Sidd, an innocent who travels with very little, still has access to his father’s fortune and has a mansion waiting for him in England. Debbie Sue, the free-spirited beach bum that Sidd falls in love with, comes from a wealthy family and was attending an ivy league school before she left it all behind to windsurf full-time in Florida. Even the most desperate people in the book, namely the coaching staff of the Mets, are only desperate to get Sidd to play. Nobody’s life or livelihood is riding on anything in the book, which to me makes it slightly less effective as a philosophical treatise because everyone starts from a place of wealth and comfort. On the other hand, it does allow the reader to engage fully with the psychological side of things, and there’s something to be said for not having to worry about where Sidd’s next meal is coming from:

Rather haltingly, Sidd asked me if I would come to New York and see him through August and September…perhaps share an apartment. He didn’t feel he was going to feel at ease in the city. Over the phone he made one of his brilliant vocal imitations – the sound of a taxi horn, a police siren, and the sigh of a bus pulling away from its passenger stop.

“There are no mantras,” he said, “to take care of this sort of thing.”

All that said, it is a really fun book. Everyone in it is charming and funny, Sidd’s bewilderment over the rituals of pro baseball is touching, and there’s an interesting hint of threesome-ness (probably unintentional) to the bond between Sidd, Debbie Sue, and Temple. As a baseball fan I appreciated the thought Plimpton put into how and where the characters and the sport interacted, and you can tell he has a genuine love of the game. He also appears to have done his research about Buddhism – it’s not just a stand in for woo-woo esotericism, the way it was a bit in the original article. There is some of that, but there is also a lot of genuine discussion of Buddhism which seems, in my admittedly very limited experience, to be correct.

Sidd smiled…very much as Dennis Brain probably had on the stage of the Jubilee Hall. “There’s a saying of Buddha,” he said. “Be earnest in cessation although there is nothing to cease; practice the cessation although there is nothing to practice.” 

So yeah, do recommend The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch if you’re interested in baseball or just in a pretty good story about a baseball player. 

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umadoshi: (StarCraft - Zerg symbol)
[personal profile] umadoshi
The thing about StarCraft Remastered, which I assure you is very high praise, is that for the most part I'm not noticing it.

StarCraft came out in 1998, and I've been playing it casually ever since*. I mean, I've never been anything more than a casual player of anything, really, but StarCraft and Quake are the ones I've been most serious about. (For both of those games, I feel like I need a disclaimer noting that I've never gotten into multiplayer for either, and in both cases, multiplayer is a THING.)

I'm also not a very visual person in general, and that's obviously a factor when I say that I'm not really noticing the whole "remastered" part. Many parts of the game have benefited hugely, of course--[dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose wandered in a few days ago and admired the Zerg hive--and when I stop and look, yeah, I can certainly see that there's more detail and all that jazz.

But mostly? I'm just playing and not having to think about "oh yeah, this game is nearly 20 years old". The remaster included updating everything behind the scenes so the game plays just fine on newer machines without having to jump through all kinds of hoops to make it run, and there's no pixelation, no glaring visual cues that by computer standards, the game is OLD. There's nothing jarring or awkward.

It's wonderful. *^^*

There are a few things here and there in the gameplay that are hard to come back to after being very used to StarCraft II (which started coming out in 2010, so while I don't think it's fundamentally as strong a game as the original, it's far more modern); for me, the biggest challenge is reminding myself that when I'm playing as the Terrans, the SCVs--the incredibly basic unit that builds and repairs things--don't notice that repairs need doing. They can be idling happily right up against a structure on the verge of collapse and not have a care in the world, or a notion of maybe doing something about it. SCII gave them a minuscule amount of common sense, so they don't need to be micromanaged, and that's a vast improvement.

*That is, after the summer--and you know, I don't remember actually realizing that it was a brand-new game--of calling myself a StarCraft widow because [dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose and Mark, who were roommates at the time, were very into it, and I didn't see the appeal at all and was awfully bored.

(I always think of StarCraft as being a dull game to watch if you're not also a player, because that was my experience with it, but Ginny started playing after watching me for a while, so clearly mileage varies!)

If any of you are StarCraft players, I don't know about it, so I'm gonna stop there. But if anyone is familiar and cares about such things, I just finished the Zerg missions in SCI and am deciding whether to play through the Protoss missions or not before moving on to Brood War, the expansion. (And if I do that, do I keep skipping the Protoss, since Brood War begins with them?) I'm not as thrilled with the Zerg in SCII as I am with the Terrans, but here in the original game, I'm a Zerg girl through and through, and also always happy with the Terrans. But the Protoss...? Meh. I haven't even bothered buying the Protoss campaign for SCII.

I do know I need to brace myself for Brood War. I'm a very cautious player, and IIRC the Brood War AI is much, much smarter and more aggressive than the original version. Meep.
umadoshi: (tomatoes 02)
[personal profile] umadoshi
(As I usually try to do, I'm keeping most of my reactions/comments on horrifying/frightening "real world" stuff--which usually means politics, but this week covers natural disasters galore--to getting my news from and passing things along on Twitter. But I really hope you're all as safe as possible, and greatly appreciate it seeing people's updates/check-ins from dangerous areas. ;_;)

I posted some tomato photos to Instagram! There are five pics of fruits on the vines in this post, and here's a pic of what we brought in yesterday, after not picking any for a couple of days.

The largest ones (by far) are the Lemon Boys, most of which are still green on the vine; the smallish ones are Chocolate cherry; and the truly small one are Sungolds. Yesterday we found two small ripe tomatoes on the lone Super 100 plant we got from Ginny and Kas, but they were both split on the bottom; [dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose at the one that had only a tiny split, and we tossed the other. further tomato thoughts and the beginnings of tomato plans for next year )

Today wound up involving more erranding than work--awkward, since I have a full-volume rewrite due Monday. (I have most of a draft, so I'm not panicked, but I wanted to be further ahead than I am. >.<)

Among other things, we went to Lush, which was a bit of a "hey, while we have a CarShare car..." whim, and I'm glad we went, because I wanted to pick up a large bottom of their Yuzu and Cocoa shower cream...and discovered it's being discontinued. (Although the website still doesn't indicate that. Hmm.) No large bottles to be had! o_o So I snagged three of the much-smaller medium bottles, and I guess I'll be eking those out sadly.

We also wound up at the pet-supply store we've gone to since Claudia and Jinksy arrived four years ago. It used to be where we got everything, until their combined dietary needs meant getting food from the vet that'll work for both of them. (Oh, please, let us not ever need to feed them separately...) Since then, it's been where we've acquired basically everything but food...and today we discovered that the litter we've been buying for quite a while isn't going to be available there anymore (several overlapping reasons, resulting in it being kinda confusing, but the upshot did seem to include that it'll still exist, at least). So we relieved the store of the three large bags they had on hand, and are now sad that that basically means they won't get much of our cat-supply money at all anymore. (They're not super convenient, to be honest, but we like the people and it's a fairly small chain.)

Other key purchases there:

a) a second water fountain for Claudia and Jinksy, since I've heard a few times now that cats stay better hydrated with more than one convenient water source, and also like having a water source away from their food dish (which is where their current fountain is).

and b) a Litter Locker (Litter Locker Plus, specifically) to put in the spare room, since we have no reason to think we won't be approved to foster cats. (They've called at least one of our references! *fidgets*) I believe the SPCA covers all of the basic costs (food, litter, medical stuff) of foster cats, but I rather doubt a Litter Locker is part of that, and I've been thoroughly spoiled by having a flushable setup for Claud and Jinksy.

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