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• What are you reading?

Still Becoming, by Michelle Obama, which keeps getting interrupted by other books; this week it is

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, for classics book group tomorrow.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Mercury, by Hope Larsen. Interesting story, which I am still thinking about, but I did not like the drawing. Different characters looked too similar and the same character looked too different from one panel to the next. And I don't mean Tara and Josie, who are supposed to look similar; I mean, for example, Josie's mother and the man Josie falls in love with.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I've got The True Queen, by Zen Cho!
But Bad science : quacks, hacks, and big pharma flacks, by Ben Goldacre
and Multiple sclerosis : a guide for the newly diagnosed , by T. Jock Murray, Carol S. Saunders, Nancy J. Holland are due back at the library.

• What are you watching?

Jasper Jones, directed by Rachel Perkins. I was disappointed by how ineffectual all the female characters were.


Apr. 10th, 2019 08:24 pm
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First daffodil!

That was yesterday. Today, blizzard.

• What are you reading?

Still Becoming, by Michelle Obama.
Also An Unkindness of Ghosts, by Rivers Solomon, for SF book group tomorrow.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Cultured: How ancient foods can feed our microbiome, by Katherine Harmon Courage, and now I am looking for Jerusalem artichokes tubers to plant. This book agrees with my sister about the importance of the microbiome, but has completely different recommendations; Courage is for fiber and fermentation and my sister is basically paleo.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, for classics book group next week.

• What are you watching?

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
The House of Tomorrow.
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• What are you reading?

Becoming, by Michelle Obama, for Tawanda bookgroup in September, but my library hold came in now so I'm reading it now.

The Magpie Lord, by K.J. Charles, because I have been curious about K.J. Charles for a while and this was 99 cents on Kindle.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Giant Days: Volume 1, by John Allison.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I've got to get back to Cultured, because it is on hold for other people. It has me wondering why our national obesity hysteria hasn't reduced our national overprescription of unnecessary antibiotics.

• What are you watching?

The Post
Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot

land squid

Apr. 3rd, 2019 02:30 am
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I planted asparagus today. I dug a trench, a foot wide a foot deep twenty feet long. I sprinkled sulfur along the bottom. I made ten mounds in the trench, half compost half soil with a spoonful of fertilizer with iron and a pinch of superphosphate each. I put five Jersey Giant and five Purple Passion bare root plants on the mounds. Not next year but the year after I will eat the asparagus.

Behold my squidlets before they go under the earth forever!

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This Lunar Beauty, by W. H. Auden

This lunar beauty
Has no history
Is complete and early,
If beauty later
Bear any feature
It had a lover
And is another.

This like a dream
Keeps other time
And daytime is
The loss of this,
For time is inches
And the heart's changes
Where ghost has haunted
Lost and wanted.

But this was never
A ghost's endeavor
Nor finished this,
Was ghost at ease,
And till it pass
Love shall not near
The sweetness here
Nor sorrow take
His endless look.

I looked up this poem because of this book review: It doesn't make sense to me but it is so much fun to say.
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The Uncertainty of the Poet

I am a poet.
I am very fond of bananas.

I am bananas.
I am very fond of a poet.

I am a poet of bananas.
I am very fond.

A fond poet of 'I am, I am'-
Very bananas.

Fond of 'Am I bananas?
Am I?'-a very poet.

Bananas of a poet!
Am I fond? Am I very?

Poet bananas! I am.
I am fond of a 'very.'

I am of very fond bananas.
Am I a poet?

-- Wendy Cope

Published in "Serious Concerns", 1992, Faber & Faber.
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• What are you reading?

Infomocracy, by Malka Older, and Cultured: How Ancient Foods Can Feed Our Microbiome, by Katherine Harmon Courage.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, by Kelly Jones, illustrated by Katie Kath. Weird, charming, really good. I especially appreciated the author's solution to the situation, so common in kids' books, where you've got a magic problem that you can't get any help with, because you can't talk to anyone about magic; in fact, the people who care about you, the ones you should turn to for help, just pile more problems on the ones you already have, because you can't let them find out about magic.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Iron Hearted Violet, by Kelly Barnhill.

• What are you watching?

The House With A Clock In Its Walls. The child actor is not a very good actor but Cate Blanchett and Jack Black are gonzo.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, for the first time but not the last.
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Maybe I should be embarrassed by how much I love and identify with Jane Doe, who says she's a sociopath.

I love how perceptive and logical she is about the differences between what people say they are doing, what they think they are doing, and what they are actually doing. I love her honesty. I love her loyalty to the one person she cares about.

I identify with the way she reads genre fiction in order to understand human behavior. Is that a sociopath thing? I used to read a lot of mysteries because it was so satisfying when the detective would make some confident statements about how humans do and do not behave. I understood that Agatha Christie was not the best tool for understanding people, but she was better than anything else I had available.
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• What are you reading?

What's a Dog For, by John Homans. I feel like I've read a significant amount of this material before, and it was more fun when Jon Katz wrote it. But people are always designing new experiments to reveal something about how dogs think, so there is always fresh water in this well.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens, for Tawanda book group. Not for me.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Unusual chickens for the exceptional poultry farmer, by Kelly Jones, from [personal profile] mrissa's recommendation:

• What are you watching?

I finished Russian Doll and started The Umbrella Academy.

The Cooler is a big bag of cliches.
The Child in Time is a realistic depiction of what it's like to lose a child, but the ending is over-the-top sentimentality.
The Greatest Showman has some good song and dance numbers.
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This is my call for volunteers to help with WisCon Kids' Programs. Will you help me promote it on social media?
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• What are you reading?

The Raven Tower, by Ann Leckie. She has set herself another interesting problem in narrative voice: her viewpoint character is a god, and what a god says must be true. If a god says something that isn't true, then all its power must go to making the thing become true, and if that isn't within the god's power, it will die. It thinks.

So the god is telling a story, partly about itself and partly about the person it is telling the story to, and it has to be careful not to say anything that might not be true. And Leckie is telling the story, and she wants to make it interesting, because that is her job. Also the god is a rock.

• What did you recently finish reading?

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, for classics book group.

Flow, by Marissa Lingen, here:

It's about paying attention, when attention must be paid. Taking responsibility. Taking care. How you keep going when the world is telling you what it needs, but your body won't tell you the truth about what direction 'down' is. And what happens when you talk to the one who loves you about the things that you perceive that she can't perceive. Really good. Go read it!

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Jane Doe, by Victoria Helen Stone. "When her best friend commits suicide after being dumped by a worthless man, Jane, a self-described sociopath, decides revenge will be slow and sweet."

• What are you watching?

Game Night,
Desk Set.

I tried to watch Taboo, but Tom Hardy + no subtitles = not going to work for me.

Help wanted

Mar. 7th, 2019 05:12 pm
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I need to write a letter for WisCon’s Communications to send out, to promote Kids’ Programs. I’ve got to ask for three things:

1. People to be on the Kids’ Programs team. This is the hard one, because basically I’m saying, This is too much work! It is too demanding, physically and emotionally, and takes up all the daytime hours, and leaves you too tired the rest of the time to enjoy any of the things you go to WisCon for, and the only reward you get is the feeling of having made WisCon a better place... that you are too tired to enjoy. Plus you get to be on ConCom, if you want. But if I can con three people into sharing the load with me, it’ll be great! We’d each be responsible for three timeslots and one quarter of the clean-up, which is a reasonable amount of work. And that reward doesn’t get smaller when you divide it up.

2. People to run one Kids’ Program activity. This is the fun part, which really is going to be great, and self-sustaining if I can just push hard enough to get it off the ground.

WisCon is full of people who have learned how to do a few cool things! Some of you would enjoy the opportunity to teach one of those things to an interested group of kids. Kids’ Programs can offer you an hour and fifteen minutes, a small group of kids (6-11 years old), an adult assistant, and whatever materials our small budget can cover. Sign up for Panel Programming, in the Kids’ Programs track, and send email to with questions or a description of what you’d like to do.

3. People to assist at one Kids’ Program activity. In this role, you have to be flexible. You might be assisting with materials for a craft activity, or building Legos or jigsaw puzzles with the kids who don’t want to do the main activity, or firmly redirecting the energies of a kid who doesn’t want to do the main activity and is trying to have a swordfight in that space instead.

Mostly you just have to be there, because the rules say that there have to be at least two adults in the room, and the second adult cannot always be me, because that is not sustainable, because I am not willing to take a plane trip and rent a hotel room and give up most of the things I enjoy about WisCon in order to make Kids’ Programs work again.

I am well enough to write this but not well enough to write it without massive quantities of self-pity. Help?
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I've been living in my husband's house since Labor Day and I am desperate to go back to my own house, where I live alone, but when you are sick it is nice to have someone bring you tea and juice and water, and feed and medicate your dog and take him out.


Mar. 2nd, 2019 08:09 am
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I have a fever and my eyeballs hurt. And I just read a book that quoted the passage from Little House on the Prairie when Mary, Carrie, Grace and Ma all get scarlet fever, and Mary loses her sight. I am srinking all the fluids but I am miserable.
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I've been enjoying [personal profile] corvidology's "Stuff I Love" posts ( Mine also fits the "February is for shitposting" theme, because the magic ingredient that lets me put everything that rots into my compost pile is an ample supply of horse manure.

I love compost. As a gardener, I love it for improving the tilth of my soil, and providing water storage and slow-release nutrients to the plants that grow there. As a hippie, I love it for giving me more of the cycle of life, instead of the straight line of work gets you money, money gets you stuff, stuff turns into garbage, garbage goes to the landfill. As a person living in the 21st century, I love it for storing carbon.

It's not carbon sequestration. All the carbon is still part of the carbon cycle. But compost makes more carbon spend more time as carbohydrates, and less as carbon dioxide. First, it stores organic matter in the soil. Our soils are young, and our climate doesn't support a lot of trees without irrigation, so there's a lot of room for organic improvement. And second, improving the soil's tilth, water storage, and nutrient profile means that it supports more life: plants, animals, and all the other kingdoms. The wild grapevine growing out of my soil, the songbirds feasting on the grapes, the Cooper's Hawk feasting on the songbirds, those are all biomass, nurtured by my compost. Well, primarily they are living things, enjoying their own lives and pursuing their own purposes. But as a side effect, they are storing carbon.

one picture of a compost bin )
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• What are you reading?

Wild Things: the joy of reading children's literature as an adult, by Bruce Handy. I like the books he's talking about but I'm not sure I like his take on them.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Zero Sum Game, by S.L. Huang. If you would like to read a thriller without being punched in the face by sexism, this book is for you. There is an early moment when the protagonist does something stupid and I thought, you expect me to believe that she can do her job when you show me that she is that bad at her job? But no! The writer did not expect me to believe that at all!

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Where the crawdads sing, by Delia Owens, for Tawanda book group.

• What are you watching?

Avengers: Infinity War. How many fight scenes is too many fight scenes? What the heck is this movie saying about when you should kill the one you love?

The Night Of. That Riz Ahmed is going to be a big star.
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• What are you reading?

The Summer Birds, by Penelope Farmer, because of [personal profile] rachelmanija's recommendation.

• What did you recently finish reading?

The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard. I think this is the right length de Bodard for me. The other one I've tried was The House of Shattered Wings, which had a similar flavor: melancholy, lots that is unspoken and maybe unspeakable, communication that is clearly conveying much more to the characters than I will ever understand. Maybe it is just too grown-up a flavor for me.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I want to read all the good books for eleven-year-olds. Here's my list so far:
Suggestions and comments are welcome. No need to read through my list to make sure your suggestion is not on it; more mentions of a book make me more likely to read it.

• What are you watching?

Russian Doll, whenever I get some wifi.

Bad Times at the El Royale. Violent but worth it.

Tully. Really good.

A Wrinkle in Time.
1. This movie is so beautiful.
2. I am okay with it being its own thing, even though it has more love and less math than I would have chosen.
3. I have a surprising sore spot that this movie hit when the Happy Medium, urging Meg to find her balance, yelled, "You can do this, you’re choosing not to."

I don't have a sense of balance, not like most people do. I don't have a thing in my head that is constantly telling me what direction 'down' is. I have a substitute that I have manufactured for myself, from seeing horizontals and feeling pressure against the soles of my feet.

Most likely I was born this way. The nerve endings in my left ear never got finished. My parents noticed that I was deaf in one ear when I was five, but I didn't figure out the balance problem until I was an adult. Fortunately I don't have vertigo because my baby brain was still plastic enough to realize that the signal from my inner ear is not worth listening to.

The balance mechanism in my right ear still works, but the brain interprets any signal from right ear + no signal from left ear = 'down' is whatever direction the right ear is pointing. When I was a kid I used to sit in a swing, raise my feet and close my eyes, to get the illusion that I was spinning, very slowly, clockwise. I was always surprised to open my eyes and see that the swing's chains were not twisted together.

So the yoga exercise that has you stand on one foot, find your balance, and then close your eyes fells me like a tree. It was an immense relief to learn that no, I'm not choosing not to, I just can't.
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My partner spent the government shutdown looking for a new job, and, although 1. everyone else who writes programs for government agencies was too and 2. he's 57, he found one! So we don't have to worry about the next one. But he worked for a government contractor, not the government directly, so there's no question of back pay. Those 35 days were ten percent of our annual income, evaporated.

So, I don't know whether I'll be able to go to Wiscon this year. Help me decide whether it's worth it:

Poll #21383 going to Wiscon?
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 15

Are you going to Wiscon this year?

4 (26.7%)

9 (60.0%)

2 (13.3%)

Do you want to spend time with me?

9 (81.8%)

0 (0.0%)

2 (18.2%)

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• What are you reading?

The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard.

• What did you recently finish reading?

So Lucky, by Nicola Griffith. I agree with [personal profile] omnia_mutantur that the pacing is weird, with an action plot suddenly erupting in the home stretch of a very short book.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I have Forget the Sleepless Shores, by Sonya Taaffe. I'm very slow at reading short stories though.

• What are you watching?

First Wives Club: This is not a good time to watch a feel-good movie about crazy rich New Yorkers, with cameos from Ed Koch and Ivana Trump, and a side of "oops, I didn't realize I was fucking a sixteen-year-old."

Searching: Meh.

The Escape Artist, a BBC miniseries starring David Tennant and Sophie Okonedo. Terrible. This might be a useful resource if you are studying Women in Refrigerators.


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