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This evening I went to hear Peter Sokolowski talk at the library:
Join us at Old Town Library from 7:00-8:00pm on August 19th for one part sociology, one part word nerdery. Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster, will present "The Dictionary as Data: What the Online Dictionary Tells Us About English". He'll discuss how dictionary use changes over time, and how it reflects the politics and culture of the world around us.

He's a delight to listen to. He talks really fast, which is useful, because he has a lot to say. He gave brief highlights of dictionary history, and talked about his job, and why the M-W Collegiate Dictionary is free online, and why the M-W Unabridged is no longer printed (it's too big.) Mostly he talked about interesting things he learns from monitoring which words are most frequently looked-up: http://www.merriam-webster.com/popular-words/index.htm
He can tell when people are watching Bill O'Reilly. He can tell when people are playing Scrabble. He showed us graphs of how particular words' look-ups jumped immediately after particular events. Immediately after 9/11, the most frequent words were "rubble" and "triage". Later, they were "jingoism" and "terrorism". A few days later, they were "surreal" and "succumb". He said that a tragedy always causes a jump in "surreal".

That part ended at 7:30 on the dot. Then he started taking questions: more dictionary history, more about his day-to-day job, what it means to be a radical descriptivist. That stretched fifteen minutes past the hour, even though he talks really fast. He reminded me of [livejournal.com profile] randomdreams in that I got the feeling I could literally ask him anything, and he would have something fascinating to say about it.

I don't know how often he does things like this: he's on vacation, and one of our librarians is an old friend of his from college. But if you like word nerdery, and you get the chance to listen to him, take it!
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Thank you to everyone who offered advice on my previous post. It was helpful to me to take a step back and look at the problem from several points of view. What I decided to reply was
At this point, I'm only going to the Raptor Center when Neal goes. As I mentioned in our interview, I will have my own car again in September, and I will be able to come more often, but, as I also mentioned in our interview, I have an anxiety disorder. If you want me there twice a week or not at all, it's going to have to be not at all.


So, we'll see.
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I've been working on the slowest traineeship in the history of the Raptor Center. Yesterday I got mail from the Volunteer Coordinator:
Hi Susan,

I am checking in to see how things are going with you. I notice that you have been working on a shift about every other week. Are you able to do a shift weekly? This is the best way to learn. Also, please attend the rounds meeting on Tuesday evenings.


How are you progressing through your training? Are you getting the sign offs and the experience you need? Please let me know if their is anything I can do to help you along.


Looking forward to hearing from you.

I can tell that she means this to be encouraging, but it just makes me want to say no, sorry, I can't go any faster, good bye and good luck.

I have a long and varied history of volunteer work. Naturally, I also have opinions. Mostly on the subject of how to make good use of the stone the builder has discarded, or at least how to make good use of this particular stone the builder has discarded. I don't disagree with her that committing to once a week is the best way to learn. I'm just saying that I can't do that.

I did tell her that I was a very anxious person, in the initial interview when she asked what my weaknesses were. She asked how my anxiety expresses itself and I said, "For one thing, I'm unemployed." I don't know whether I want to try to explain that this is what I meant. I am anxious. I deal with it as best I can. Sometimes that is not very well. If I could deal with it better, I would have a job and a lover and probably no time for the Raptor Center.

Some people who don't experience anxiety take my anxiety as an insult. If that's the way the conversation goes, I will definitely wish I had skipped it. Other people seem to think that my anxiety is a problem for them to solve, by asking me what erroneous beliefs are causing the anxiety, and then explaining to me that the erroneous beliefs are erroneous. Ta-da! I'd rather not ever have that conversation again either.

I am open to advice.
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We are having some exciting weather. My husband's girlfriend R and I are taking turns going up to his place to feed the horses and water the garden while Neal and Mungo are in Yellowstone. Today was her turn, but I was worried about the possibility of flash floods, or lightning, or the horses getting spooked and doing something dangerous, so I--

--if you've been reading here for a while, you might remember that my husband maximized the uncomfortable of our getting acquainted, mostly by treating every potential meeting as terribly fraught. R and I would both rather be friendly acquaintances, but we're both painfully shy and much better at avoiding uncomfortable interactions than making them less uncomfortable. We're working on it. I've had her phone number for a while but never used it. Making phone calls is hard. But today, I really was worried about the weather, so--

I called! And offered to go with her. And it went fine! It wasn't necessary: the horses were up by the barn, not down on the flood plain. But I'm glad I did.
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[personal profile] telophase also linked to http://www.playbuzz.com/gregs/can-we-guess-who-you-are-in-only-20-questions

Answering truthfully, I got
Here is our best guess at who you are:
1. You are male.
2. You are still a teenager, but won't be one for very much longer.
3. You're in college and are already worried about finding the perfect job that will be both fulfilling and will pay well. Your future worries you more than you'd like to admit.
4. You have beautiful, silky brown hair and big eyes.
5. You know that if you'd only believe in yourself more, things would be much easier for you. Yet you still doubt your instincts more than you should, instead of trusting them every time.

So, how did we do? How many of these did we get right? Tell us in the comments!

Half of one. Almost. I used to have beautiful, silky brown hair. And small eyes.

They offered me Pixar characters, I picked Merida! They offered me food, I picked salad! A lot of my demographic never wears makeup!

ETA: Oh, I got Mungo's results! Except he has nooooooooooo trouble believing in himself. None.

blackstone

Jul. 28th, 2014 08:51 pm
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[personal profile] telophase pointed to this short interesting article: The experience of hearing voices is complex and varies from person to person, according to Luhrmann. The new research suggests that the voice-hearing experiences are influenced by one's particular social and cultural environment – and this may have consequences for treatment.

It's interesting to think about the culturally-mediated experience of hearing voices in Blackstone, the Canadian TV show set in a First Nations reservation. Two of the characters see and hear someone no one else does. In both cases, it's a close family member who is dead, and the experience is distressing. Neither character thinks of the experience as mental illness, though one does ask a doctor for sleeping pills to avoid seeing the dead family member in dreams.

The second season of Blackstone is streaming on Hulu now. Have any of you watched it?
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When I was little, maybe five or six, I knew that a cheetah was an ape. I also knew that a cheetah was a spotted cat, the fastest land animal. For a long time, both facts existed without collision, because one of them was true at home, and the other was true at school. Eventually I noticed the contradiction and figured out that the incorrect fact came from the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies.

I tried to tell my dad, who was the one who liked the Tarzan movies. (My dad is not a native speaker of English, but I didn't realize that that was relevant. I knew his first language was Spanish, but I didn't really understand that. I remember not being able to understand why he hadn't been teased about his name, which was Joaquín.
"Didn't kids call you Joaquín Walking Down The Street?"
"No, because where I grew up, that would have been said, 'Joaquín, caminando por la calle'. It isn't funny."
Did not compute.)

Anyway, I tried to tell him that a cheetah was a cat, and he said no, a cheetah was a monkey, and I said I used to think that, because Tarzan called his friend Cheetah, but "Cheetah" was just Cheetah's name. The kind of animal he was was a chimpanzee. And my dad said no, a chimpanzee was a different kind of monkey, bigger than a cheetah, almost as big as a man. And I went away and thought. How did I know that a cheetah was a cat, given that some people said one thing and some said the other? Books! I realized. All the books said that a cheetah was a cat. So I got Volume C of the World Book Encyclopedia and brought it to my dad. He looked at it, and-- and this was not all that many minutes after our first conversation-- and said, "You see, I was right, a cheetah is a cat."
"No, daddy, I said a cheetah was a cat. You said a cheetah was a monkey."
"No, you thought a cheetah was a monkey. You said you learned that from the Tarzan movies."
I argued, he yelled at me for being arrogant, for always needing to be right. I ran away crying. He yelled after me that I was crying because I couldn't stand being wrong.

My mother said that what really happened didn't matter: what mattered was that I should have known better than to correct him. Ever. And even if I was sure that I was thinking that a cheetah was a cat when I went to get the book, I couldn't be sure that I hadn't said it the wrong way around. And if I was so smart, why couldn't I learn not to say things to Dad that made him angry?

Well, my dad was always a little bit angry (except when he was very angry) and I was always a little bit afraid (except et cetera), but I have always been stupid about feelings and I never did learn how to avoid setting him off.

I was reminded of this by [livejournal.com profile] amaebi's observations on conversational rules of correction. Rules are helpful. Rules I can learn.
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This is the view from the house where I used to live with my husband.
double rainbow
There's a panorama of the whole double rainbow here:
http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/boxofdelights/833604/50441/50441_1000.jpg
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• What are you reading?

This I Believe: the personal philosophies of remarkable men and women. For book group. Mostly, they are nice. The only one that has given me to think is William F. Buckley, who says,
I've always liked the exchange featuring the excited young Darwinian at the end of the nineteenth century. He said grandly to the elderly scholar, "How is it possible to believe in God?" The imperishable answer was, "I find it easier to believe in God than to believe that Hamlet was deduced from the molecular structure of a mutton chop." That rhetorical bullet has everything -- wit and profundity.

Come on. Yes, if atheism means that Hamlet was deduced from the molecular structure of a mutton chop, then atheism is nonsense. But atheism does not mean that Hamlet was deduced from the molecular structure of a mutton chop. Here's what I believe, Mr. Buckley: you should not argue against someone else's position unless you know what it is. And if you cannot say what it is in a statement that your opponent agrees is true, you do not know what it is.

• What did you recently finish reading?

And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini

Content notes: Read more... )

There are a lot of twos in this book: Two disfigured little girls. Two highly privileged young men who have a brief but intense connection to someone whose desperate state inspires a mercifully fleeting desire to become a better person. Two people who spend decades with the object of their unrequited, unspoken love. I think this must be some literary technique at work, reflecting or reinforcing the main pairing: two women named Pari, one of whom used to imagine the other was her invisible identical twin.

There are sibling or sibling-like relationships in all the stories in this book. The ones between people who are actually present in each other's lives are strong but unsatisfying, as real relationships tend to be. The ones that are broken or only imagined are far more compelling than reality.

If I weren't reading it for book group, I wouldn't have gotten very far with its mood of longing for a different, better world combined with the futility of making any changes in this one.

No Man's Nightingale, by Ruth Rendell. Satisfactory. Inspector Wexford is old, and he investigates things as an old man would. He putters around. He is reminded of things. He thinks about the way things used to be. He forgets things. He remembers them again. Not very exciting, but I enjoy it. It confused me that two of the main suspects (and one minor character) were men with the initials D.C. I know real life is confusing that way, but fiction doesn't have to be.

The House on Fortune Street, by Margot Livesey.

Content notes: Read more... )

This book is preoccupied with the question: When is love wrong?

Interesting. Well-written. Very sad.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Maybe Three Parts Dead, for SF bookgroup.
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I had some space, and some leftover seed, so I seeded a fall crop of basil and two kinds of kale. The seed were two or more years old, so I seeded thickly. Now I have many kale seedlings and many many basil seedlings, waytooclosetogether. I should just thin them, but-- Think of what I could do with all that basil!

I could try to separate them and grow them all on. I could find more space. Pricking out seedlings is going to be a lot harder stooping over a bed than standing at a counter, and a lot lot harder when you're pulling the seedlings out of clayey soil instead of lovely loose seed starter, but-- I could at least try.

This is going to hurt.
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Couldn't sleep at all last night.
Could walk the dogs before it gets hot.
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The Creative Process spread is designed specifically to peer into the nature of a project or creative undertaking, and shine a spotlight on the evolution of its parts.

The card in the middle represents the creative force behind the project, be it a person, organization, or other entity. Queen of Swords: The essence of air behaving as water, such as a refreshing mist: A person gifted with both keen logic and natural intuition, giving them uncanny powers of perception and insight. One who easily sees past deception and confusion to the heart of a matter, and understands both sides of any argument. The embodiment of calm, forthrightness, and wit, in the face of even the most trying circumstances.

The card on the top represents imagination - the prophetic image that stems from the creative force of the previous card to initiate the project. This is the poetry or voice of the undertaking. Wheel of Fortune, when reversed: An unexpected turn of bad luck. A broken sequence of events. Outside influences for the worse. An inescapable descent due to Fate or Karma. Great changes taking place as a result of earlier actions that cannot be taken back. Misfortune, failure and reluctance to use free will.

The card on the left represents emotion - the feelings aroused by or surrounding the ideation of the project that takes place in the previous card. This is the music or scent of the undertaking. Page of Wands: The essence of fire behaving as earth, such as wood or coal: The surprising appearance of a new passion. An adventurer who blazes through life, acting as a catalyst that others may harness. The intense enthusiasm and childlike imagination that fuels any new venture, needing only the application of mind and material to make it a success. Inner fire that can drive away fear and replace it with fury. Can represent a person of some timidity, but whose innate passion can be easily ignited. May indicate the birth of a child.

The card on the bottom represents thought - the analytical process of organizing the project and capturing the emotional content of the previous card. This is the science or vision of the undertaking. The Devil, when reversed: Resistance of temptation. Freedom from bondage. The pursuit of higher goals despite the influence of luxury and pleasure. Release from obsession with money and power. Liberation from fear, weakness and indecision through communion with higher powers or the inner voice.

The card on the right represents manifestation - the real work involved in completing the project, and the form it will take upon culmination. This is the painting or touch of the undertaking. Two of Cups (Love): The perfect harmony of union, in romance, friendship, or business. A deep and palpable connection radiating joy and contentment. A great concordance or pledge of fidelity. The joining of male and female interpreted in the broadest sense. The sanctification of the natural through that which exists on a higher plane. May indicate the meeting of a kindred soul, marriage, engagement, merger, or partnership.

dogs!

Jul. 5th, 2014 12:17 pm
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The dogs and I spent the night at my husband's house to escape from the sound of fireworks. Newt prefers men, and adores my husband; he adores Mungo too, but Neal is very much his favorite person. But when Neal came down in the morning to tell me breakfast would be ready in fifteen minutes, Newt raced ahead of him, jumped on the bed where I was sleeping, and swore vociferously that he would tear Neal limb from limb if he got any closer. Dogs!

(Newt is the 10-pound (4.5 kilo) terrier. Aiko, the German Shepherd, has his own set of irrational fears but expresses them by hiding behind my knees.)
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I got to look at a male Blue-eyed Darner in the back yard. I am somewhat more resigned to the presence of mosquitoes there.

Here are some pictures of Teak's new stablemate:

pitch and teak
This is Pitch. Isn't she pretty? Those stockings!

saying hello
Hello!

Sleep schedule is out of whack again.
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One of our horses died this spring. The other one, her son, is living alone for the first time in his life. Horses are happier with a companion, so Neal advertised for a horse boarder, and found some nice people who are saving up to buy a house and expect to need to board their horse for three years or so. They don't have a trailer, so Neal said they could use his, except that we didn't take the horses anywhere for years and let the registration lapse. The boarders offered to pay to renew it.

So, Neal went to the DMV today to renew the horse-trailer registration, which will be $65. Except that there is a new policy that if you have let your registration lapse, you will be fined $25 per month, up to four months. So if Neal registers the trailer, it will be $165.

Neal asked if he could sell the trailer to his wife and avoid the fine. Yes, said the DMV employee. You'll have to pay sales tax and you'll get a new plate. That is stupid, said Neal. I know, said the DMV employee.

So he got the title out of the safe deposit box and signed it over to me for the price of $1, and tomorrow I have to go to the DMV and register the sale and get a new plate. Hope this works.
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Here are two good writeups of this panel:

http://www.bladeandcrown.com/blog/2014/05/30/wiscon-part-1-social-isolation/

http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/843353.html

This was a good panel, well-prepared and well-run, yet still frustrating in all the topics it opened up but didn't have time to explore. [personal profile] firecat wanted more analysis of the politics of what makes people more likely to be socially isolated. I wanted more brainstorming of strategies and tactics to break out of isolation. There we were, a room full of people, most of whom had experience with social isolation and attempts to break out of it. I wanted to know, what techniques have you tried? How did that work for you? How did it fail?

--Volunteering is a common suggestion. What if your social isolation is exacerbated by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Have you found a way to volunteer that works with unpredictable energy levels? What about if volunteering triggers your Imposter Syndrome? What about if you have already spent enough of your one wild and precious life among people who are only willing to tolerate you as long as you provide a service and don't ask for anything in return?

--Gaming works very well for some people as a low-stakes social activity with explicit rules and roles. What if competition gives you intolerable levels of anxiety? Are there cooperative games that work in this context?

--First Wiscon Dinner works for some people. What if you have to work around food allergies or difficulties with communication or mobility? What if you would really like to share a meal with up to four people, but more than that is kind of terrible? Have you found a way to say, I like you all, but could we split into two smaller groups?

And so on.


I'm pretty sure the story I told at that panel (went to another con that was billed as small and inclusive, could not persuade anyone to share a meal with me, even when I was armed with restaurant reviews and bus schedules; on the last night of the con, I gave up and went down to the hotel restaurant. After I had been seated but before my food was served, all the other people who hadn't found a better option came down as a group, and were seated as a group, and ate as a group. Next to my table. I have often wondered whether it is possible to literally die of embarrassment) managed to convey how terrible that felt, but I don't remember whether I ever got to the point of telling that story, which was: if you ever feel that terrible, you can talk to me.


Someone in the audience at this panel (who also attended the con that was terrible for me) offered to share a meal with me when I was lonely. And then she followed up and checked in with me from time to time for the rest of the con. That felt so good. I don't know how to solve the problem of how to get enough social credit in the first place, so you can tell your story and have people respond with kindness, but if you can find someone to do mutual checking-in with, it is a great comfort.

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