More light

Oct. 26th, 2016 06:54 pm[personal profile] kass
kass: the city of Atlantis: home sweet home (atlantis)
The days are getting shorter, which is always a struggle for me. I love the long days of summer. I dread the long nights of winter.

I was putting away laundry in my room and noticed that the room felt gloomy and dark -- because there's only one standing floor lamp, and it doesn't illuminate the whole room. On a hunch, I moved a standing lamp from the dining room into the bedroom and doubled the amount of light. Sure enough, it makes all the difference in the world. Now I can see to put my clothes away, and now the room feels bright and friendly instead of dim and depressing.

Have ordered another lamp (this one, if anyone's curious) to put back in the dining room, because I don't want to leave that room gloomy and dim either. But I am pleased that this simple a solution makes that much of a difference.

On "guilty pleasures" and joy

Oct. 26th, 2016 10:35 am[personal profile] kass
kass: Zoe is made of awesome. (zoe)
Via [personal profile] liv I learned about Ann Leckie's recent post On Guilty Pleasures. She has (unsurprisingly) really smart things to say about so-called "guilty" pleasures and how frequently we shame people for liking things associated with being young, female, or poor. Here's a taste:

Velveeta? Is mass produced. That mass production makes it relatively inexpensive, and easy to get your hands on. It’s easy to cook with–you basically just melt it into whatever you’re making. It’s salty, it’s filling, it’s cheesy-tasting enough, as these things go. Little kids like velveeta. It’s not exactly a sophisticated taste to have.

That cheese I referred to above? If you don’t live in the vicinity of Bloomsdale, Mo, you’ll likely have a tough time getting your hands on some. Me, I can get a few ounces of it just by heading for the nearest farmer’s market, but it’ll cost me as much as two or three big blocks of velveeta. It’s totally worth it–they didn’t get that gold medal because the goats are cute. (Although the goats are super cute.)

I can like both of these, in different ways, for different reasons, but I’m supposed to feel ashamed of admitting the one. Why is that? Why are my personal preferences, some of them in such viscerally basic areas of my life–the taste of food!–subject to what is essentially a moral judgement? Why am I only supposed to admit liking what’s publicly valorized, and ashamed of liking what’s not?

And isn’t it funny how the stuff that I’m supposed to be ashamed of liking is inexpensive, mass produced, and easy to obtain? Isn’t that interesting?

Isn’t it funny how so much of the music and reading material that’s most heartily sneered at is loved by teenage girls?

The whole thing is really worth reading.

And it made me go back and dig up my post The perpetual-motion joy machine from way back in 2012. (Wow, y'all, remember when I had time to write fannish meta? ::wistful sigh::) It's not as thinky as Ann Leckie's essay -- I didn't draw the direct correlations between the idea of "guilty pleasures" and the gender and class stuff that she draws in her post -- but I think it's a variation on the same theme.

Sometimes bringing joy means cooking a meal for someone, or coming up with an allergy-compliant brownie recipe for a birthday, or sending a postcard, or pitching in to a passed Paypal hat to help someone out of a tight spot. And sometimes it means writing Eleven/Amy/Rory fic. Which I might laughingly disclaim as self-indulgent id-fic, but -- why disclaim, actually? What's wrong with indulging myself? If writing it brings me pleasure, and sharing it with others magnifies that pleasure, then that's a good thing, not something to feel sheepish about or to hide away.


Oct. 25th, 2016 09:30 pm[personal profile] kass
kass: orange aspen leaves, "zen fen" (aspen zen fen)
1. I got to have lunch with one of my favorite people today.

2. En route to and from said lunch, I got to see some beautiful road, and hills, and trees alternately bare and copper / rust-colored, which is what happens after the brilliant red and yellow and orange.

3. I made this zuppa toscana tonight and it's delicious. (Assuming that you consider chicken pareve and don't object to combining it with dairy.)

4. Watched an ep of Gilmore Girls with friends, which was delightful.

5. And now I have a nightcap and am curled up in bed in the new PJs I picked up at Target today. Flannel trousers (in a plaid of lavender and grey and white with occasional gold threads) and a very soft and drape-y long-sleeved shirt. Yay.


Oct. 22nd, 2016 10:40 am[personal profile] kass
kass: a latte in a teacup with a heart shape drawn in the foam (latte)
1. The #HamildocPBS last night, and getting to watch it while also watching Lin Manuel Miranda livetweet it. ♥

2. Coffee with milk and splenda. Particularly lovely in a warm mug on a cold damp day. I've had this mug since college -- it's a giant mug with an illustration of itself surrounded by coffee beans -- and I love the way it fits in my hand.

3. I went to the CSA this morning and am now cooking up a great big bag of swiss chard with lemon and garlic and sea salt and fresh pepper, which will keep me in greens for a few days.

4. Clean sheets on my bed, and laundry folded and put away.

5. I bought a pair of Not Your Daughters' Jeans on sale at 6pm, and they fit like a glove. Cut for body stuff )

How are y'all?

Shabbat self-care

Oct. 21st, 2016 06:00 pm[personal profile] kass
kass: two lit Shabbat candles (candles)
For reasons that don't bear exploration at this juncture, I'm entirely by myself tonight.

Being alone on Friday night can be difficult for me, so I'm lining up the forms of self-care I can manage.

I'm going to try baking these custardy apple squares (recipe courtesy of [ profile] bironic.)

I'm planning to eat dinner with a book at hand -- the first March volume, the graphic novel about the civil rights struggle by Representative John Lewis, given to me by [personal profile] bayleaf.

I'm doing laundry, which means later I get to enjoy folding cozy warm things right out of the dryer.

Whatever your evening may hold, I hope it is sweet. (And for those to whom Shabbat is meaningful, Shabbat shalom.)

Are you better off now?

Oct. 21st, 2016 01:04 pm[personal profile] dichroic
dichroic: (oar asterisk)

An election-year question: Just out of curiosity, and I’m especially aiming this question to people living in the US: Would you say that you are better off than you were 8 years ago, or worse? Would you say that the US is better or worse than it was then? I’m not interested in assigning credit or blame either way, just curious as to the actual situation.

I’m curious, because the closest to a rational reason I’ve heard for supporting Trump is along the lines fo “yes, he’s awful – but the US is in terrible shape, falling apart, and if he can just fix that then we can put up with the rest of it.” I don’t thinl the ‘rest of it’ is forgiveable and I haven’t yet figured out why anyone would trust Trump to fix anything, but the weirdest thing is that it looks to me like that entire basic postulate is wrong. Far from being in a handbasket on the fast lane to Hell, it looks to me like the US is better than it was when Obama took office.

I myself am not better off for a complex set of reasons (see below), but I’m under the impression most people actually are – curious to see if others agree.

My own situation:
I’m not better off economically because 8 years ago I was an expat, pretty much protected from layoffs and with my housing, utility and fuel bills paid for. I had no debt at all, so pretty much my only non-discretionary expense was food – and saving to compensate for not putting money into Social Security in those years. But that’s a freaky and unusual (and temporary!) situation – I’d guess most people are more positively impacted by the improved economy.

I think we’ve come a very long way in a short time on civil rights. I’m not directly affected much because I’m a cis het white woman, so while it’s good for me to have e.g. three women on the Supreme Court, I was already able to marry who I wanted or use the correct restroom. I do not think the problem with violence against minorities by law enforcement has worsened, I think it’s that many more of us have realized how bad it actually is. At least we’re having the discussion, even if we’re too rarely able to make it a productive discussion. So since I’m white, that’s not a direct impact either. Nonetheless, all of those things impact me indirectly, because they make the US a better place in general and specifically for a lot of people I care about.

I have decent healthcare just at the moment, but as I plan ahead for retirement, it makes a huge difference to me if we have at least Obamacare and at best a single-payer system. If we lose what we have now, retirement will be further off just because of that one (massive) cost to plan for. So again, I’m not better off now, but many others are, and it will impact me directly someday – just not yet.

How about you?

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

Oh, my heart.

Oct. 21st, 2016 01:36 pm[personal profile] kass
kass: Brad Colbert from Generation Kill. (GK)
I found this story because [personal profile] riverlight posted a set of politics-themed recs, and oh, wow, is it good:

and my glory shall be love (26459 words) by Lake
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Generation Kill
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Relationships: Brad Colbert/Nate Fick
Characters: Brad Colbert, Nate Fick, Mike Wynn, Ray Person, Walt Hasser, Rudy Reyes, Craig Schwetje
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe, Politics, Big Bang Challenge

There is little that Agent Mike Wynn takes more seriously than the life of Vice President Nate Fick. When the number of death threats starts to climb, he calls in the one person he's sure he can trust, USMC Sgt. Brad Colbert, and assigns him the 24/7 task of being the Vice President's shadow.

The voices are spot-on -- this is absolutely Nate and Brad -- and the AU works beautifully. Also the slow unfolding of their relationship, the dynamics, the way they each come to recognize how much the other matters to them -- just gorgeous.
gramarye1971: Chevalier Aurite, with Zundar on shoulder (Boueibu: Chevalier)
First foray into writing fic for ridiculous magical-boy anime, based on a cute prompt from the start of the fandom Christmas exchange over at [community profile] boueibu. I probably should be spending more time working on my actual assigned fic for the general exchange, but that one is rather more fraught with internal angst than this one-shot of accidental magic wacky hijinks, and it was great fun to bang this one out.

Title: Curiosity Had Nothing to Do With It
Fandom: Binan Koukou Chikyuu Boueibu LOVE! | Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!
Rating: G
Relationship: Kinugawa Atsushi & Kusatsu Kinshirou & Yufuin En. (On the gen side of Kinatsuen, because one of them is a cat and this is not that kind of fic.)
Summary: A glitch in Wombat's highly advanced scientific technology grants En's idle wish for a cat. The cat in question is not very happy about it.
Notes: Written for the Boueibu Christmas Festival Free-for-All, Round 1. Set between seasons 1 and 2, and inspired by the comic anthology chapter in which Wombat's technology misfires spectacularly when he gets sick. (Also on AO3.)

Curiosity Had Nothing to Do With It )

Whom should I thank? Is it you?

Oct. 19th, 2016 09:35 am[personal profile] kass
kass: orange aspen leaves, "zen fen" (aspen zen fen)
Dear all! If one of you is responsible for the lovely gift of three volumes of March, the graphic novels about the civil rights movement by Representative John Lewis, please tell me so I can shower you with gratitude?
dichroic: (oar asterisk)

In less than half a year now, I’ll be entering my sixth decade, and I have figured out what I want for a birthday gift. (Aside from world peach. I would always like world peace for a present, but it seems safe to assume that’s not happening this year.) I want people to never refer to me as “50 years young” – or 60, 70, 80, whatever it is at the time. I hope to continue feeling younger than our conception of fifty is (or 60, 70, 80 – just assume for the sake of brevity that I’m including all the future ages I hope to achieve) because I’m already feeling enough of the chill breeze of middle age to understand that the storms of old age are not for the fainthearted. On the other hand, I’ve earned my experience, every bit of it. Even just on a physical basis, I can do things right now that I couldn’t do at 20; I erged 30 km over this past weekend, I hardly ever get sick any more, and if the 5-gallon bottle on the water cooler needs replacing I can do it. I’m 49 and 7/12 years old, dammit, and I have no wish to diminish that or to subscribe to the assumption that only youth has value.

While I’m ranting, don’t include me in a group you refer to as “the lovely ladies”. I’m as susceptible to a (respectful) comment on my achievements, skills or even looks as the next person, but only if you’re really complimenting me for some quality that really exists. (Complimenting a group is fine too – when you know who’s in the group and are speaking of a shared achievement or specific quality common to the group.) When you just slap on the adjectives on the theory that all women love compliments no matter how empty, and that compliments on our looks trump any others, I just feel I’ve been slimed.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.


Oct. 14th, 2016 08:46 pm[personal profile] kass
kass: apples and honey (apples)
1. I have built a wee sukkah on my condo's tiny balcony and it makes me super-happy.

2. It also seems to make my kid super-happy. This is perhaps because it is bedecked with Christmas lights and tinsel. :-)

3. I did some experimental baking tonight and am reasonably pleased with the results. Also my house smells yummy.

4. Tomorrow I get to see people I love who I do not see nearly often enough.

5. I have a glass of white wine in hand, huzzah.

How are y'all?

catch-up compendium

Oct. 14th, 2016 01:32 pm[personal profile] dichroic
dichroic: (oar asterisk)

Oops, yup, way too long since I’ve updated. What’s been happening? Let’s see, last week I spent a couple of days in Houston. Unfortuntely I was there for only two nights, sans car, on the wrong side of town, so I didn’t get to meet up with any friends from when I lived there. However, it was a very good conference – the American Productivity and Quality Council’s annual Process Conference. I already have an idea to submit, to see if I can be a speaker there next year. (Spoiler: I like to say that business processes rest on a three-legged stool: they need to be documented, deployed and then monitored. If you miss one of those, the whole thing falls down – and I heard lots about the first and third of those at the conference, but not the second leg.)

Also, I’ve concluded that Houston is the ideal place for services like Uber and Lyft – because you can’t walk anywhere (no sidewalks, and usually too hot anyway) and there’s no mass transit system. I’ve had the Uber app on my phone a while but never used it before, but I used it twice that trip, including to get back to my hotel from a restaurant that’s in a complex literally visible from the hotel but on the other side of the highway, with no safe way across on foot. (I got there on the hotel shuttle, but it was busy when I wanted to come back.) I also used Uber the next morning, when I wanted to get to my conference before User started running. It did work very well, both times.

I also realized, somewhere in the last several days, that I made a mistake in my workout plan. I’m doing a marathon training plan to get in shape for and complete the Concept 2 Holiday Challenge – I’ve done this for the last couple of years because it worked out so well – last year I was in about the 4th of 6 cycles during the Challenge, and got enough meters to let me finish early. However, this year I started too early, with the result that if I keep on it, I would finish the plan, all but the 2-week pre-race taper, right around Christmas. I just wanted to build up a little extra distance – I didn’t want to actually do a marathon! Those are no fun. That has me erging 80K the week before Christmas. And the worst part is, I did this to myself.

So the alternatives at this point are,
1) Slack off – stick with the rough idea of the plan but shorten the longest workouts. In particular, never do more than a half marathon (the plan calls for a couple of 25-30km workouts), or
2) Stay with it, suck it up, and then do an indoor marathon just for the hell of it – maybe do a couple weeks taper after Xmas, then do the marathon while watching the Superbowl. (May not work because I’m too slow; I don’t think the Superbowl stretches 4.5 hours.)

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.


Oct. 13th, 2016 09:27 am[personal profile] okrablossom
okrablossom: (scientific method)
I recently finished re-reading The Three Musketeers. Love the banter, hate the sexism. I had forgotten a great deal of the second half of the story, so it was a fun ride [with judicious skipping of text].

I read Angela Cervantes' Allie, First at Last and that was an excellent teen adventure that made me cry [in a good way].

I re-read all the Megan Whalen Turner books about Gen + Co. and that just re-convinced that they go downhill [but start really really high].

I enjoyed Sarah Beth Durst's new one, The Queen of Blood, for how determination is what won Our Heroine her goals. [Also, intriguing world-building and a spectacular use of viewpoint in magic.]

I read Sonny Liew's The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye and that was fabulous. Highly recommended.

Through all this, I have been sustained by a focused re-read of Richard Wilbur's collected poems.

I suspect next week I will be reading a lot of other people's manuscripts. It is nearly time to leave for VP.


zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)

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