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So I was walking my dog and this arrogant jerk in an SUV decides that he is not going to yield to me, after all SUVs are washable. After skipping back out of his way I made a gesture. Not that one. The one where you hold your hands out to your sides, waist-height, palms up, calling on heaven to witness the wrongness of what just happened. And this guy, this guy who is in too much of a hurry to slow down to permit me to finish crossing the street, this guy slows down, rolls down his window, and leans out to shout back at me, "What, lady? There wasn't a stop sign!"

"It's a crosswalk!" I shrieked back.

"There wasn't a pedestrian sign!" he yelled, still looking back at me while he was driving forward.

Obviously there are several things I can be righteously angry about here, but what most irritates me is that vocative "lady". Don't call me "lady" when you're being a dick!
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[personal profile] dingsi asked for book suggestions, and I made some even though I get anxious recommending books to people I don't know.
I want to suggest three women of color who write excellent books that haven't been suggested yet, but all these books have content that I have to warn for while recommending them. They are all fantasy, but not the kind of fantasy that escapes from the fact that if you're a woman of color, some people will treat your body as if it were their property.

What makes these books so great is that they are about living a joyful autonomous life anyway.

Redwood and Wildfire, by Andrea Hairston, is set at the beginning of the 20th century, in the swampland of Georgia and then in the theater and film world of Chicago. The protagonist is a Black woman learning to use her magic and her storytelling power. The other main character is a mixed-race Native American and white man. Warnings for a lynching, a rape, alcoholism, and the fact that there is eventually a romance between characters who became friends while one of them was an adult and the other was a child.

Nalo Hopkinson's work is multicultural, feminist, queer, and intersectional. Midnight Robber is the one I read first and still my favorite, but the protagonist is raped by her father. Sister Mine has a Caribbean family of gods living in modern-day Toronto. Warning for consensual incest between conjoined twins. The Salt Roads has three protagonists, in 18th-century Haiti, 19th-century Paris, and ancient Egypt, connected by a goddess and the struggle for freedom. Warning for slavery and prostitution.

Octavia Butler wrote some of the most worthwhile and most troubling books I have ever read. I don;t even know where to start talking about them. Fledgling is about vampires, but it will take you straight into the heart of the problem Butler never stopped struggling with: the way our biology drives us to violate other people's autonomy. She alienates the problem by telling stories in which the exploiters are a different species than the people they use, but you can't not see the light these stories cast on the way men use women, the way white people use Black people, the way fetuses use their mothers.
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The beautiful poem I mentioned last week is Swan Girls, by Theodora Goss, which you can read here:

You can listen to me reading it on the Strange Horizons poetry podcast here:
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• What are you reading?

Who Do You Love, by Jennifer Weiner. Not recommended. There's a bullying scene. The thin rich pretty doted-on girl who does the bullying is our protagonist. The victim is described with such detailed, thorough loathing that I am reconsidering everything I ever enjoyed about Jennifer Weiner novels.

• What did you recently finish reading?

A Slight Trick of the Mind, by Mitch Cullen. Recommended. Read for library book group. Nobody said the word, but we talked about fanfiction, which is hard not to do when you're talking about Sherlock Holmes. One guy didn't mind all the AU versions of Sherlock, but was indignant about this one because it pretended to be the real Sherlock, but it was taking away everything that made him Sherlock (i.e., his great brain). I thought Cullen created a believable person, who was believably the same person as ACD's Sherlock Holmes, but seen through two very different writers' styles. I loved the detail that Cullen's Holmes is aware of the fanwork being created about him, and very offended by the ones that depict his dear companion as Jam Watson.

The person who picked the book began by apologizing for it: she hadn't read it, only seen the movie, at book-choosing time. Apparently the movie has a happy ending pasted on? I can't see how that would work. The book is all about the fact that we all lose things we can't bear to lose; that not even the great detective can turn back time and bring them back to us; that we mostly go on living anyway.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I've got to finish my bowl of misery soup, that is, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, for book group Sunday.
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• What are you reading?

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, by Chris Bohjalian, for Tawanda book group. Misery soup. Like grimdark, except no action sequences. Or suspense: lots of flashbacks and forshadowing assure you that it is misery soup all the way down.

• What did you recently finish reading?

A Fearless Heart: How the courage to be compassionate can transform our lives, by Thupten Jinpa, PhD. I didn't finish the book, but I'm done with it. This was for a previous Tawanda book group. The one who picked it really wanted us all to read it and think about it, so I gave it a good try, but nope. An example of why I'd find this hard to swallow even if I were convinced it would be good for me:
We can all see that we benefit from other people's kindness, but not everyone benefits equally. How much we do benefit appears to be influenced by how compassionate we are ourselves. A team of scientists studied fifty-nine women in the San Francisco Bay Area. Participants filled out a questionnaire that measured their individual level of compassion; they were then randomly divided into two groups. About a week later, the participants came to a laboratory session, where they were asked to do three things: give a speech in the presence of two experimenters, participate in an interview, and do a math task. Each person was given five minutes to think about a speech, while they were hooked up to machines, such as electroencephalographs, that would measure brain waves and certain body functions. For one group, one of the experimenters made positive comments such as "You are doing great," or smiled, nodded in agreement, or made other affirming gestures while the participants engaged in the tasks. For the other group, the experimenters did not offer any positive encouragement.

Strikingly, the participants who scored high on the compassion scale and received supportive signals from an experimenter had lower blood pressure, lower cortisol reactivity, and higher heart rate variability -- all proven to be associated with physical health and social well-being -- especially during the most stressful of the tasks, giving a speech. Compared to their counterparts in the second group, these same individuals also reported liking the experimenters more. These effects were not observed for those who were in the group that received supportive gestures but scored low on compassion scale and those who, although scoring high on the compassion scale, did not receive encouragement. In summarizing their findings, the researchers noted that "those who are more compassionate may also be more benefitted by support, particularly during acute stress situations." In other words, to benefit most from others' kindness we need to be ready with kindness of our own.

That is one possible explanation. Another is that your self-reported compassion scale is actually testing for people who care a lot about making a good impression on the experimenter. Then the experiment shows that people who care a lot about making a good impression on the experimenter respond positively to signs that the experimenter approves of them.

My explanation has the same explanatory power as yours. Since mine posits one entity instead of two (being compassionate and responding positively to kindness), Occam's razor says mine is preferable.

The thing is, I didn't have any objection to the claim that compassion is good for you. I was happy to take it on trust. But propping it up with buttresses that are obviously painted canvas and don't even go all the way to the top breaks my willingness to trust and replaces it with nothing.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I just found Who Do You Love, by Jennifer Weiner, at the library.
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Thanks to [personal profile] supergee for pointing to The Big Business of Internet Bigotry, by Arthur Chu, about "going viral". Chu says there are compensations for becoming the object of internet hate:
Every instance of business-damaging PR will generate a backlash of people who, because they see the people who disapprove of you as on the opposite “side” from them, will pay you more than enough to compensate for your loss.

Seriously? Every instance?

I know it's easy to go from "This is what happened to me" to "This is what happens." Even easier to generalize from "This is what happened in the stories that I am aware of." But, although going viral on the internet is not one of my Mastermind subjects, I can easily think of people who have become targets of internet hate, have lost a lot as a result, and have not received piles of compensatory cash: Adria Richards. Justine Sacco. Lindsey Stone. I imagine that this is a lot more common than what Arthur Chu thinks is the norm.
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Just got back from book group. Sarah hosted at Kathleen's house, because Sarah's roommate's mother was visiting so she didn't have room, so we all brought food and drink to share, and petted dogs and gossiped and watched the lunar eclipse until the clouds covered it, and talked about the book, which was The Circle by Dave Eggers.

I am entirely in charity with my book group right now, which makes me feel quite brave about venturing among new crowds of people. We talked about taking the book group to Ellen in California in February, or maybe March. If we went to Ellen's the first weekend of March, maybe I could go to Fogcon the second weekend.

Brave is not how I usually feel, though, so... so even if I could make this happen I'd probably regret it.
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My tiny dog has rediscovered that tomatoes on the vine are food. He figured this out once before, a couple of years ago, but I kept him away from the tomato plants for a while and he seemed to forget. This year I noticed a hole in a ripe tomato as if a bird had pecked it for a drink; later I found Newt eating that tomato, still on the vine, and now he'll go get himself one anytime I'm not looking. The big dog will finish a tomato that Newt has started, but won't pick them himself. I don't know whether he doesn't recognize them as food while they are on the vine, or he doesn't recognize them as food unless someone else is actually eating them. I suppose I have enough ripening tomatoes that I could experiment...

Thanks to [personal profile] jesse_the_k and [personal profile] liv for the prompt:
When you see this post, feel encouraged to post something in your journal. Short or long, trivial or profound, it doesn't matter, just something. And if you like, you can pass on the token by copying this notice at the bottom of your post.

tiny dog is keeping an eye on you
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So you remember last week when Dr Reimer's office, with whom I have had a new-patient appointment scheduled since February, called to say they weren't taking any new patients now? And I called back, and talked to someone who assured me that my appointment was not cancelled? So I showed up for my appointment today. It was cancelled. Sorry for the inconvenience. But we're not taking new patients, so there's nothing I can do for you.
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I brought three books home from SF book group: City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett, which is the book for next month; The House of Shattered Wings, by Aliette de Bodard, which also has to be read by next month so I can pass it on; and The Last Rainbow, by Parke Godwin, which doesn't have a deadline so it will probably go on the shelf and never come off.
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• What are you reading?

Gemsigns, by Stephanie Saulter, for SF book group tomorrow. Interesting combination of comic-book tropes with accomplished writing. I've had enough second-hand exposure to Steven Universe that every time I pick this book up I have to reorient what it means to call people Gems.

Also still reading A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to Be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives, by Thupten Jinpa, which was last month's book for Tawanda book group. Not going to finish before it has to go back, but would like to get to a good stopping point.

• What did you recently finish reading?

The SF book group grew too big, so it closed to new members and the bookstore started a new one. They asked members of the old group to come to one or more of the first meetings to help them get started, and their first pick was The Killing Moon, by N.K. Jemisin, so I reread it and went along. It is still excellent, and fun to talk about with new people. The new group's second pick is God's War, which I am glad I read but don't want to reread.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I just picked up Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee, because I got to the head of the library waiting list, and A Slight Trick of the Mind, by Mitch Cullen, because it is the next book for library book group; but that isn't until October. The next book for Tawanda book group is The Circle, by Dave Eggers, which I have read, but long enough ago that I wouldn't do a great job of talking about it; but Tawanda never does a great job of talking about books. I've got Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho. The Killing Moon reminded me that I haven't read The Shadowed Sun. And I have The Fifth Season too! Too many choices.
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I got a phone message from my new doctor's office, telling me that neither my new doctor nor anyone else on their panel was accepting new patients, offering me the phone number for Associates in Family Medicine, and signing off with "I hope that helps!"

I called back to protest that my appointment had been scheduled eight months ago. Eventually got to talk to a person, who agreed that my appointment existed and I should not have gotten that phone call.

I don't know what I'd have done otherwise; the reason that I agreed to wait eight months for an intake visit was that I won't go to Associates in Family Medicine, who still employ Dr Steven B. Tippin (*spit*).

I was just thinking about Dr Tippin (*spit*) the other day, when someone posted about the problem of having to present the correct affect in order to get medical care instead of being brushed off as a hysterical woman. Women, of course, are always untrustworthy; pregnant (or menstruating, or premenstrual, or menopausal) women doubly so; and then there's Hysterical Hispanic Syndrome, which is endemic here in Colorado. So of course when I noticed, near the end of my first pregnancy, that the baby's movements were decreasing, I made sure to stay calm and serious as I described it to Dr Tippin (*spit*). He appeared to take me seriously. He asked if there had been a sudden drop-off. I said no, it was very gradual[*], but clearly decreasing from one week to the next. He listened to the baby's heartbeat for 15 seconds, multiplied that by 4, and told me everything was fine.

My mom, who was an ER nurse, said that the doctor must have dismissed my concerns because I seemed like a hysterical pregnant woman. I said no, I had been very careful not to. My mom didn't miss a beat: she said the doctor must have dismissed my concerns because I didn't seem concerned enough.

At the next visit I evinced more distress. I reminded him that I had brought up this concern last time. I said that the baby's movements had continued to dwindle, gradually but persistently, in strength and frequency. He listened to the baby's heartbeat for 15 seconds, multiplied that number by 4, and told me everything was fine.

At the next visit, Dr Tippin (*spit*) yelled at me for not knowing that the baby had stopped moving forever.

That's Dr Steven B. Tippin (*spit*), still practicing with Associates in Family Medicine in Fort Collins, CO.

I do realize that Dr Tippin (*spit*) was yelling at me to drown out whatever small noise his stunted shriveled conscience was still capable of making, but you know that moment in Prince Caspian when Susan has to acknowledge that she saw Aslan, she knew they were going in the wrong direction, she didn't fight for what she knew because... she doesn't even know anymore, but something feeble? That's me.

[*]If you are ever pregnant and worried about whether the baby's movements are decreasing, do kick counts.
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Mungo sent me some pictures from the hiking trip he and Neal did in Gros Morne National Park. photos )
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From, on the Hugo award ceremony

#67 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 11:45 AM:

I am grateful for the livestream, and for our community.

I am Hindu and I felt like the mocking repetition of a Hare Krishna chant was a slap in the face to me.

#68 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 11:52 AM:

Sumana Harihareswara @67: It didn't seem mocking to me. Rather, it was aimed at bringing peace to a number of souls who needed it. YMMV, of course, but that's how I saw it on the stream.
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I hosted book group last month. (This is the book group that I was in for eleven years, then dropped out for ten, then dropped back in; the group is a year older than my daughter, so I've been back in for ~three years. We each pick a month to host: the host chooses the book and makes dinner. I host at Jo's house because my house is really not fit to invite people into.)

My book was Housekeeping. I checked a book group kit (10 copies of the book + a binder with reviews and biographical information) out of the library. It's due back today.

Three people didn't return their copies to me at book group, which was three weeks ago. I sent email to the whole list earlier this week, reminding people that the kit was due August 8, and that the library has a strong preference that all the items be returned together, so to please give them back to me. Two people did.

What would you do? Other pieces of information that may or may not affect your decision:

- I am almost but not 100% sure that I know who took a book and hasn't given it back.

- I find this woman very tiring, because I don't think she likes me, but she seems to want to cover it up by over-acting affection. Insincerity is never more exhausting than when it comes in hugs and prolonged one-on-one conversations.

- I have been considering dropping out of this book group anyway, because as a whole, it doesn't bring me enough happy to make up for the times it makes me feel slighted.

- On the other hand, there are people in this book group that I like a lot and I am sure they like me. I know I could theoretically drop out of book group but maintain the individual relationships, but I know me and I would not make that happen.

- Also long-term relationships are more useful for learning about people than any number of first dates.

- This is not a good time for me to accept advice that begins, "Why don't you just..."


Jul. 28th, 2015 09:08 pm
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Today I Learned that the Safety Data Sheet (what used to be called the Material Safety Data Sheet) for the hand soap that we use at the raptor center says that if you get this substance on your skin, you should wash it off with soap and water.

Also I got to watch this video of a goshawk maneuvering (very tight, very fast) through trees.


Jul. 8th, 2015 11:18 pm
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I'm sleeping terribly again, staying up later and later; getting up later too, but not late enough to get six hours in. It's having the usual consequences on memory, focus, and the ability to actually do a thing instead of realizing that I ought to do it, and realizing that I ought to do it, and realizing that I ought to do it....

This is one of the things I need my dogs for. They're very good at telling me it's time to eat, or it's time to go out; harder for me to ignore than my own body. They do try to tell me when it's time to go to bed, but I can ignore that, since they can go to bed without my help.

This evening Aiko nudged me, so we went out, but just stood on the back deck. A few minutes after we came in, he nudged me again. I told him to go lie down. Then I realized that I hadn't given him his pills with dinner. (I set out his pills for the next day each night when I set out mine, so I can check whether I have given them to him.) The carprofen has to be taken with food, (I assume because it is an NSAID and would give him ulcers otherwise? I don't know, he gets fed twice a day and pilled twice a day, it all works fine when I don't fuck up,) so I gave him a little more food, and his pills.

I've got to figure out how to sleep better.


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