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2017-08-10 11:24 pm

somebody should write that

My SF book group today came up with three ideas for things that we agreed we would read the heck out of (and our ratings for The Fifth Season were 8-10 out of 10, so clearly we collectively have very good taste):

1. Donna mentioned Soldier of the Mist and I said I longed to read a fanfic from the point of view of the AI in Person of Interest, in the period when she is figuring out how to circumvent the protocol that wipes her memory every day.

2. I mentioned Station Eleven and Jacqie said she had an aversion to post-apocalyptic traveling theater troupes doing Shakespeare, so we talked about what we'd like to see a post-apocalyptic traveling theater troupe do: they have an orchestra, why not Gilbert and Sullivan? But the most approval went to the suggestion of post-apocalyptic Rocky Horror Picture Show. There was some discussion of how the audience participation could work when you would not throw any rice or toilet paper you happened to have.

3. Someone said they were reading a book about Helen of Sparta, that is, Helen of Troy before she ran away with Paris. Stephen said he thought it was going to be a book about Helen of Troy as a Spartan warrior. Stephen says that Spartans let women train like warriors.
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2017-08-09 10:25 pm
Entry tags:

reading wednesday

• What are you reading?

The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin, for SF book group. I had been putting this one off, because I heard it began with the murder of a very young child, in a world that is so terrible that this seems like reasonable behavior. The book is grim, but gripping.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Nothing! I'm in the middle of six different things. I didn't finish Out Stealing Horses because a moose crashed through the fence of the woman who was hosting book group in July, and now her steers are roaming free on thousands of acres of forest, with the rains washing away their traces. She'll reschedule in August and I'll read it then. There is a moose at my husband's house, too:moose )
I have to keep a careful eye on the dogs when we visit.

I did watch the first season of American Gods, which was beautiful. I read American Gods too long ago to judge how good an adaptation this is, but it is a very good TV show.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

My Favorite Thing is Monsters, by Emil Ferris, because my library hold just came through.
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2017-07-26 07:59 pm
Entry tags:

reading wednesday

• What are you reading?

Chimera, by John Barth. Last read in college, when I was studying computer science, and everything Barth said about letters and stories seemed to be a direct reflection of something Turing discovered about numbers and computing machines. "The key to the treasure is the treasure."

• What did you recently finish reading?

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. I had been putting this off, because my non-SF-reading friends were saying it was really good but my SF-reading friends were finding it disappointing, which usually means I'll find it disappointing. Turns out it's really good!

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson, for Tawanda book group.
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2017-07-08 10:14 pm
Entry tags:

(no subject)

garden photo )

Every time I go out to move a hose, I see dozens of things that make me think, gotta take care of that. But right now each of those things makes me think, what is that going to look like in two more weeks? I gotta take care of that now!
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2017-07-07 06:43 pm
Entry tags:

tarot

One Card
The card represents the critical factor for the issue at hand. Simbi La Flambeau (Eight of Wands): A sudden release of raw power, cutting through confusion and indecision, and setting things in motion. Rapid progress towards a desired goal, brought about by immediate and decisive action. Boldness and daring in love, business, travel, or spiritual growth.



It is true that I am using my anxiety about upcoming travel for immediate and decisive action towards a desired goal of clean kitchen, bathroom, and laundry.
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2017-07-05 10:47 pm
Entry tags:

reading wednesday

• What are you reading?

Panic in Box C, by John Dickson Carr. I spent the night at my husband's house, to limit the dogs' exposure to fireworks, and found this on a shelf. Very strange narrative choices. It seems that Carr wants to give the reader a lot of backstory, in nonconsecutive fragments, which are told by various characters to various other characters, without any believable motive. This is a mystery novel, so maybe it will turn out that some of these stories are lies, and the reader can figure out whodunnit by noticing the discrepancies between different characters' stories.

Also Frommer's Easy Guide to Montreal and Quebec City.

• What did you recently finish reading?

All Systems Red, by Martha Wells. I loved it. This is how Murderbot begins its narrative:
I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don't know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.


I'm always eager for an AI (or alien) that thinks as well as a human but not like a human. Murderbot is clearly related to us, and enough like us to be entertained by our entertainment, but it is not human and has no desire to be -- no matter how much it likes a few humans who are lucky enough to get it as their Security Unit.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Becoming Unbecoming, by Una, recommended by someone on my reading list I think but I don't remember who.
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2017-06-29 12:13 am

the storytelling

I went to the storytelling. I timed my walk right and got there at the start time, but it was so hot, even at 7 p.m., that I opted to go inside to buy a drink, and miss the start. And so did a lot of other people, so I missed the whole first storyteller.

It was a good turnout:cut for pic )There were more people sitting on a low wall behind me, and people standing at the side.

The second storyteller talked about encounters with coffee-snob baristas, and a visit to a coffee farm in Colombia. You could see that she had had some training, in storytelling or some other theater, when she described the landscape. She showed us how lovely it looked from far away, and then how it felt to walk down a cliff-face to pick the coffee cherries.

The third talked about her relationship with food: how her family encouraged her to be miserly with money and with calories; how boyfriends and their families encouraged her to take pleasure in eating and other indulgences; how food makes memories vivid, and memories of particular meals anchor her important friendships now. When she was describing her disordered eating, I thought, "This needs a trigger warning." Then, when she was describing food really sensually, I thought more generally about what we warn for, and what we should warn for. The point of storytelling is to use our words and our physicalities to put images in your mind.

The fourth talked about how growing up on a farm had made her familiar with birth and death, and affected her understanding of her own inevitable death. She described two corpses very vividly. A beloved horse, who had done "what horses do: lived a long, happy life, and then walked himself to the very back pasture, across a couple of irrigation ditches, and buckled his knees under the buckle of the mountain, and died." Unfortunately, on the other side of that fence was the kitchen window of a brand-new million-dollar home, built by a new neighbor who was not a farmer, who needed the corpse moved. The storyteller's mother explained that she could not get a rendering truck or a backhoe across those irrigation ditches, and she was going to let it rot, though the neighbor was welcome to move it if they could figure out how. The storyteller's mother hadn't liked that neighbor anyway. Those irrigation ditches had flooded, in the storyteller's childhood, severely enough to undermine the century-old tombstones in Bingham Hill Cemetery, which brings us to the second corpse. The storyteller's mother didn't mean to graverob, she just didn't want him to wash away.

This was a very good story.

The fifth talked about being a public radio journalist on the farm beat.

The sixth was a theater guy. He talked about being a city kid and going to his father's cousin's farm on holidays.

I learned something useful from the last storyteller, whose story didn't really have a structure: at the end, he said, "That's my story, thank you!" and everyone applauded. My stories tend to be small and oddly shaped, and leave my audience saying, "Wait, that's the story? You're done?" so I think I will try this tactic.
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2017-06-26 11:44 pm

decide for me

I am supposed to go to rounds every Tuesday from 6 to 7 at the raptor rehab where I volunteer. It's good to be up-to-date on protocols, and to get the news about the cases. On the other hand, there is always a lot of information I don't need, and there are other ways to get the information I do need.

Tomorrow night there is a storytelling event at a coffee house from 7 to 9. "The event will showcase a selection of community storytellers sharing stories on the theme of food and farm. We’ve invited six storytellers — writers, poets, performers, journalists, speakers — to prepare true, personal stories and share them in front of a live audience." I'd like to go. I am always interested in anything that could help me become a better storyteller.

I could skip rounds.
I could leave rounds 10 minutes early and go to both, but I hate getting up when everyone else is still sitting patiently, and also that would be a very long evening for me.
I could just stay home. Staying home is always good.
boxofdelights: (Default)
2017-06-23 03:41 pm

(no subject)

[personal profile] jesse_the_k tells me all the cool kids are doing this:

what boxofdelights likes to talk about

row 1: my kids; gardening; tutoring; the fanfic community; Octavia Butler;
row 2: stories; books; autonomy; Wiscon; storytelling;
row 3: dogs; Rachel Maddow; math; different points of view; raptors;
row 4: introversion; puzzles; podfic; logic; making people laugh;
row 5: compost; R.A. Lafferty; science fiction; due South; ecology;

I made this at http://myfreebingocards.com
I picked 25 topics that I like, and that I like to talk about.
I let the web page randomize the placement. I was lucky that "my kids" didn't end up in the middle.
I clicked "Play Online Now" to get an image I could snip.

Check off the things that also interest you and see if we have a bingo.
boxofdelights: (Default)
2017-06-23 02:40 am
Entry tags:

the gift of fear

I do think that there is value in Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear, even though it doesn't work for me. It doesn't work for me on either end: I'm not much good at understanding strangers' intentions, and don't want to spend enough time and attention on strangers to get somewhat better. And I am good at attracting extra attention from security people, even though I don't intend to steal, smuggle, or damage anything. I don't know how much of that is racism, how much is missing communications cues because I'm partly deaf and have not much peripheral vision, especially on the same side as my deaf ear, and how much is behaving oddly because when I am in a crowd of strangers I am spending a lot of energy wishing that I were elsewhere, and hoping to escape with the least possible eye contact, talking, and being touched by strangers. But just by being myself I soak up enough security personnel attention that anyone who does want to steal, smuggle, or damage things should use me as a stalking horse.


Friday evening I was walking to the library with Aiko. I was on the north side of the street, heading east. I saw a couple walking toward me, but there was a break in traffic and I crossed the street before we met. On the south side of the street, Aiko was uneasy. He kept stopping and looking back. I looked back too, and saw the couple that had been on the north side of the street, going west, were now about half a block behind me, on the south side of the street, going east.

Well, people do change their minds and turn around. But Aiko would not settle down, so at the next street I turned south. The couple behind us also turned south, but I was on the east side of the street and they were on the west. I stopped and let Aiko sniff for a while, so I got to the next intersection after them. They crossed to the south side of that street. I did not. I turned east. They also turned east, and continued to walk about half a block behind me, on the other side of the street, for about seven blocks. Then we were in a well-populated area, and I didn't see them again.

I am a short fat old woman, and my hands were encumbered. I had library books in one hand, and a leash and a bag of dog poop in the other. But I was walking a German Shepherd! How did they plan to assault me without getting bit? Also without getting a bag of dog poop in the face? Though it was one of the good bags, and probably wouldn't have burst even if it had hit. Also, I didn't have any money on me, though they didn't know that. I was wearing a fanny pack, which is where my wallet would have been if I was wearing my wallet. I thought about taking my phone out and taking their picture, but they had dropped back far enough by the time I thought of it that it wouldn't have been much of a picture. The fanny pack has the kind of buckle that you squeeze to open. Probably they planned to run up beside me, grab the buckle, and run off with the fanny pack before Aiko could react. They would have got my phone and my housekeys, and could probably figure out where I live from the phone.

Anyway, I do think that there is observable, identifiable behavior that signals that one human being is looking at another human being as prey, and I think Aiko observed and correctly identified it.
boxofdelights: (Default)
2017-06-22 02:55 am
Entry tags:

reading wednesday

• What are you reading?

The Heiress Effect, by Courtney Milan.
The conceit of this book is brilliant. She has to stay single, for complicated family reasons, but her plan will stop working if she turns down any reasonable offer, so she has to make her person repellent enough to counterbalance the attraction of her considerable fortune -- without letting anyone see that she's doing it on purpose. I love it when the obstacles in a romance are not stupid! I love comedy of manners, when it puts extra constraints on the protagonist's solution space! Especially when the protagonist using a formidable intelligence and an immense amount of work to seem foolish and ineffectual!
I was disappointed that this book ignores the constraints that don't assist the story it wants to tell. (For example, these unmarried gentlewomen would not go to a dinner-party in a house without a hostess. One of them is accompanied by a chaperone, another is with her sister, and that is adequate for excursions in public places in daylight, but after dark, in a house full of young men -- no. It would not do.) These elements might not move the story forward directly, but they would do a lot to make the societal forces our heroes are working against seem powerful and real.

• What did you recently finish reading?

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer. DNF. It isn't a bad book, but the more I read of it the more I found myself resenting the idea that it would be one of the approximately 3000 new books I have time left to read. Its greatest appeal for me is how thoroughly Schumer fights against shame. Read for Tawanda book group.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I put a Climbing Mount TBR challenge on my Habitica To-Do list, but I'm not sure how to tackle it. Two of my book groups are on summer hiatus, so I have room to move. I like [personal profile] melannen's FMK polls, and I keep thinking I could do that too, but when I look at my shelves and ask, "Which of these are you going to read, really?" and "Which of these do you need to keep, really?" my answer is always, "All of them. All. Yes, even that one."
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2017-06-16 01:37 am

Dear Zindagi

I just watched Dear Zindagi and I loved it. I had to stop for a while in the middle because I thought for sure it was going to do something terrible ), but it didn't! Also it showed work, friendship (especially friendship with other women), and family as being foundational to happiness, with romantic love as a joyful addition when you're ready.

Also I found the constant language-switching delightful.

Is there a lot of Bollywood like this? Can you recommend any?
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2017-06-07 11:57 pm
Entry tags:

reading wednesday

• What are you reading?

Signal to Noise, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, for SF book group

• What did you recently finish reading?

The Gentleman, by Forrest Leo. Funny and charming, but I think the blurb that mentions Wodehouse and Wilde does this book a disservice by making you think about how much funnier and more charming it would like to be. I think the dialogue worked better when it was rattled off on stage; on the page, it is a bit tedious to have characters explaining to each other what the narrative voice has already made clear to the reader. Still, it has an excellent bookstore, a Victorian club for inventors, a gentlemanly Satan, and a lost wife who has all the manly virtues her silly husband lacks.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer, for Tawanda book group.
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2017-06-04 07:03 pm
Entry tags:

Happy Skull Appreciation Day

[personal profile] muninnhuginn tells me that today is Skull Appreciation Day. "Write something every day" is on my Habitica list, but I fail a lot. Nevertheless, I do appreciate skulls. Here is a photo of one of my favorites; it belonged to Kitsune, the dog in my icon.

dog skull, very dirty )

It's always surprising how small the brain pan is.
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2017-06-01 08:45 am

garage-roof lion

This is the longest-surviving feral, who was maybe a year old when I moved in. Longest surviving as a feral: there was a litter of kittens in the garage, which prompted me to call the Trap Neuter Return people, who removed this cat's balls and the tip of his left ear; the kittens went to a no-kill shelter. From there he can see into the yard of the neighbors who feed the ferals, and supervise the easiest way into the yard. cat on a shady aluminum roof )
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2017-05-30 12:18 am
Entry tags:

own bed

I love home. I love my dogs.

I miss everyone I saw at Wiscon, but I am so glad to be home.

Three times this Wiscon I was in the audience when the moderator opened it up for questions and there was silence. Which persisted until I stuck my hand up and asked something weird and stupid, which I probably should have though better of, but 1. it was the best I could think of at the time and 2. it was better than nothing. And it was followed by better questions after I broke the ice. The first time was A Room Of One's Own, after the GOH readings. Maybe everyone was intimidated by Kelly Sue DeConnick? She is really funny, you guys.

Amal El-Mohtar read us a story that included the lines, if I remember correctly, "You are a Great Horned Owl. You are an apex predator. You are a terrible parent." I was surprised, because Great Horneds are notoriously very nurturing parents. They'll keep on feeding their fully-fledged adult-sized offspring until it's time to start preparing for the next clutch. Amal said, "So I should change that metaphor to something about trust fund babies?"

Amal was right that they are terrible nest-builders, though, which is one reason why we get a lot of Great Horned babies at the raptor center. If the babies are uninjured and the tree is intact, we will nail up a wicker laundry basket and return the babies, and the parents are usually still hanging around looking for babies to feed. And they'll keep using the laundry basket every year because it's the best nest they've ever had.
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2017-05-23 06:46 pm
Entry tags:

sincere pumpkin patch

aaaaaaaaaaaa two sleeps till Wiscon aaaaaaaaaa!

garden pictures )
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2017-05-18 11:36 am
Entry tags:

may snowstorm

This is my pumpkin patch today:Read more... )
I have to drive up into the foothills to feed the horses now. My old man is in California, learning to surf. Wish me luck!
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2017-05-17 11:30 pm
Entry tags:

wednesday reading

• What are you reading?

Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson, for economics in SF panel. I've written to my other panelist a couple times, but he doesn't answer. I hope we manage to pull this off.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Shadowshaper, by Daniel Jose Older. Vivid depiction of New York City, of music, dancing, painting, and the ways people talk. Interesting magic. The plot has the flaws of its genre: you are in mortal danger, your city is in danger, you have powers you don't understand that could protect yourself and your world, other people know things you don't and no one will explain anything! Fortunately, a song you have always known holds the key to the secret, and you manage to figure it out just in time.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan, for library book group. I did decide to skip the book group for Laura Pritchett's The Blue Hour.