1) What makes a good potty? The number of variations is overwhelming. We want something pretty simple, I think: looks like a toilet, no branded characters, doesn't play music, sits on the floor, is basically a bucket with a seat. In the more distant future we'll need one that folds up or goes over the toilet seat or something, for when we're on the road, but right now this is just for Kit to examine and contemplate and get used to the idea of.
2) Like most 18-month-olds, Kit is full of energy. Unlike most 18-month-olds, Kit can barely walk unassisted and can't run or jump. They've only just started climbing around on the most low-level playground equipment and are very uncertain; they can get up five steps to the top of the baby slide but haven't yet sorted out how to slide down it. When they can't burn off all that energy, they get very agitated and fussy. How do we help them get something like vigorous exercise on the weekends? So far my only idea is to take their walker wagon to the park so they can toddle along at a fairly fast clip for longer distances than our apartment allows—there's a good smoothly paved straightaway there—but that's a pain because the sidewalk between here and there is very uneven and narrow, so I'd have to figure out some way to carry the (heavy, bulky, non-folding) wagon while pushing Kit in the stroller, and that may surpass my own physical limitations. Maybe a lightweight folding medical-style walker? Is that a ridiculous expense for a kid who probably won't need it anymore by the end of the summer? And what do we do when it's not park weather? The nearest real play space for kids is the Brooklyn Children's Museum and it's kind of a haul from here—two buses, and you have to fold the stroller on the bus. They can only crawl around our apartment for so long.
EDIT: We did have a great dance party to the B-52s on Sunday—their pure sincerity is a perfect match for toddler sincerity, plus a good beat—so I should remember that's an option for indoor days. Friends on Twitter and elsewhere also suggested walking while holding Kit's hands/arms; playing follow-the-leader movement games ("Stretch WAAAAAY up high! Now bend WAAAAAY down low!") or doing movement to songs; setting up a tumbling mat and big foam blocks to climb on if we can get some that fit Kit's room (need to measure the open floor space); getting a cheap flimsy lightweight doll stroller to use as a walker in the park.
I'd really appreciate any suggestions on either or both fronts!
(In Perth we'd prefer the rain though)
In the Northern Hemisphere some places have such bad winters, some creatures and plants hibernate. Here, we have such bad summers some of our creatures and plants aestivate, a wildlife worker once said to me he considers Summer to be like Winter in the Northern Hemisphere, everything just hunkers down, trying to survive.
Winter here is a time of life. The Black Swans ( Mali ) (the only swan native to Australia so I don't know why we keep saying "black" geez how Eurocentric are we?) will be starting to nest, the Wardongs (crows) will be pairing up and it's a good time for Yongka (Kangaroo).'
Also, here come the nasturtiums! And weeds. And on the endemic botanical front, Purple Flags.
First book by Daniels that I've read. On the whole, a pleasant surprise. I suspect this is in the "YA" bucket, not because of the content, but based on the formatting. Wider line-spacing, for one. Also a very quick read, based purely on the ebook-reader's page number function, 300 pages, or within 1%-2% error margin, started on the morning commute, finished during the evening commute. Clear YA sign, that. 250 pages, I could've believed it was just the quality of the book (the better, the faster I read, or something like that). Where was I?
Ah, yes. We follow Danny Tozer, who, when the book starts, is a teen with one set of problems, which quickly change for whole other set of problems, which slowly transmute to a third, somewhat related, set of problems. The rapid change at the start have something to do with "a dying superhero just gifted his powers to you", and the slow transmutation is definitely related to the same thing (and various other reactions of the book's world to this).
This is not the bookmeme post I was planning, but this one is better, even though (until now) it didn't mention lesbians, nor trans-phobic feminists. But you can't have it all, people.
The main purpose of this European visit is, of course, the International Supercomputing Conference. The event is just the right size, and with a good combination of medium to some very low level presentations ("low level", as in dealing with the technical details). Of some note was the announcement at the conference that the United States has been edged out the top three supercomputer systems, with the delicate suggestion that the current administration may wish to revisit their committment to advanced research. Among the vendors the can be little doubt that NVIDIA's Volta architecture attracted much deserved attention especially with its performance, energy efficiency, and capability for artificial intelligence - the latter being an interesting focus among a number of presentations.
There has been some more social activities as well; I was subject to a film interview by Dell on the sort of HPC work conducted at the University, and had dinner with a number of their staff at the well-reviewed Immer Satt. I have also had the opportunity to catch up with several individuals from my last visit to this part of the world, including colleagues from Stuttgart and Freiburg Universities as well as establish contacts with well people from Auckland University of Technology (quite a trip) and GENCI (Grand Equipment National de Calcul Intensif) who I will be visiting in Paris this Friday.
Hey guys, I’ve got a quick-turnaround website to protest the AHCA – but while I’ve written the words and done the research, my web design looks like 2003 hot garbage.
If someone out there can commit to a professional, bare-bones web design to help me get out a three-page website this week, please email me at email@example.com stat, along with a page or two that you’ve designed so I can verify you’re better than I am. (It’s not hard, trust me.) And I’ll happily share details if you’re a professional who knows design and/or political protest and wanna email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, because, well, it’s a last-ditch shot in the dark against the AHCA before it passes next week.
If you’re feeling volunteery, please email. Thanks.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
Fourth in chronology, fifth in publication order. Gladstone's Craft Sequence goes from strength to strength. In this volume, we meet several characters we've met in previous volumes, with some twists and/or new information occasionally revealed.
If I had to summarise these books, I'd say they fall in that narrow overlap between theology and jurisprudence. Or possibly gaping void. It probably makes sense if you've red them, though.
But, basically magic, fantasy, epic, thingie, wossname. Go, read, pretty good.
Oh hey, previous employments of >= 6 months count.
School, after the first 9 years, counts. To a maximum of 4 years.
Military service (or equivalent) counts, too.
And: bingo! That adds up to exactly 25 years for me. Yay, extra vacation time!
Of course, after explaining all that, another couple paragraphs down, there's restrictions: previous employments only count to a maximum of 5 years, and school time (after being counted as a max. of 4 years) is reduced to a maximum of 2 years. So if I stay with this employer, in about 2025 I can get that extra week.
On Saturday, we had been planning to visit my niece, but the whole family is sick and I'm singing in a concert next weekend, so it did not seem like a good time to get a throat infection, so we wound up going to see Wonder Woman instead, which was fun. I actually don't have very many thoughts about the film at all, I'm afraid. Most of my reading and media is pretty woman-centred, and I don't see a lot of films or read comics or follow superhero stuff, so I didn't have the whole feeling of it being groundbreaking that other people have talked about. But I did enjoy it, especially the whole training montage and that first fight sequence on the island. The bit where Diana walks across No Man's Land was also rather special. So yes, a fun movie, and I liked it, and I'm glad it makes people happy, but that's about it.
We got home from seeing the film, and I basically sat down and started to write my next Paris story, which had been haunting my brain all week, but which I hadn't actually had any time to work on. It's called Still Waking, and is for Ternes station, and it's a Sleeping Beauty story. Since 'terne' means dull in French, and is also a word for an alloy coating of lead and tin that was historically used to cover steel and keep it from tarnishing, I gave Sleeping Beauty a sister who was her opposite - plain to the point that people would forget her features even when she was standing in front of them, strong and stubborn where Sleeping Beauty is charming and yielding, and of course awake while Sleeping Beauty is sleeping. Which is a good thing, because someone has to keep an eye on all of those princes. Some of them are not pleasant people at all.
I'm quite pleased with this one, and I think it's rather sweet, despite some dark moments. I was not expecting it to have the ending it did, so that was fun. It does have a lot of adult themes, but then, so does the original story.
(And it's kind of amusing to me, because I can see where the story was influenced by my visit to Darwin and by watching Wonder Woman, and by reading and disliking a bunch of Hugo nominated stories, but I don't think anyone else can...)
The other writing project this weekend was a lot less fun. A friend of mine is about to go through a very difficult court case, and asked me to write a character reference. I'm not going to go into any details here, except to say that it is deeply uncomfortable to write such a reference, even when you are saying positive things, particularly when it is for someone who has quite a different value system from your own. In many ways, you passing judgment on someone's character in a way that you would never do normally in the context of the friendship, and you have to step back from the friendship a bit to do so, which is disconcerting. I think she's OK with what I wrote. The one thing I do know for sure – since I was largely bearing witness to my friend's integrity and respect for the truth – is that she would never want me to compromise my own honesty in writing about her! And she does know that I am on her side, which is important.
Still weird, though.
On Sunday I had choir practice in the afternoon for the concert that we are doing next Saturday, and then went from there to an Iftar dinner organised by the Australian Greens and hosted by the local Muslim community. The goal of the event was to make an opportunity for non-Muslims to talk to Muslims, and generally to promote a sense of community, and I think it was definitely a good starting point. Though I did feel a bit weird at all the people who came and thanked us for being there – because really, all we did was show up, eat lots of lovely food and try to make conversation. As shows of solidarity go, this was a pretty easy one, really. And it worries me a little that this is considered a significant enough effort to be worth thanking people for.
But anyway, it was really lovely, and there was a good turnout, and of course the food was amazing (and ridiculously plentiful)! They asked us to get there a bit before sunset, and we sat at our long tables with our bottles of water and jugs of lemon drink and plates of dates in front of us, and they brought a split pea soup around, and then we sat there and waited for sunset, feeling thirsty but of course not drinking yet. A local imam did the call to prayer, and we ate, and then there were evening prayers, and then we ate even more, and then there were speeches by several local politicians and several leaders of the local Muslim community. I noticed that we had some excellent diversity - half the speakers were women, and most of the women were women of colour. And there was an opportunity to ask questions, and also just to talk to the people around us.
So that was a very pleasant way to spend an evening, and I'm very glad I got to do so (especially as I then woke up the next day to the news about the attack on worshippers near the mosque in Finley Park in London). My Muslim friend at work who let me know about this event has promised to let me know about any similar events that are on, and I think that's something I want to really work at being involved in.
And yesterday was my first, lovely, day at home! I had very grandiose plans, which were not achieved, largely because Mayhem decided at around 7am that she really wanted to sleep on my face, which was not restful. But I got a couple of loads of washing done, and went for a long walk, and had a massage, and did two hours of singing practice and spent two hours starting to clean out my pantry and reorganising my spice rack, and planned the weeks menus, and made dinner, and started planning my Europe trip... and actually when I list it all like that, I did get a fair bit done yesterday, didn't I? Just not any of the writing/research that I had hoped to start on, so apparently, the rest doesn't count. Hmm...
Also a random recommendation. We've recently discovered Sammy J's Playground Politics, which is a cross between Play School (an Australian children's TV classic) and political satire, and it is hilarious and horrifying and brilliant. We've basically watched all the episodes (most of which go for five minutes) over the last few days. I think my favourite is Musical Pollies, which serves as an excellent introduction to Australian politics, if you recognise any of the names...
He has a new show now, called Sammy J's Democratic Party, which is a full-length show, but which always includes some of the Playground Politics stuff. Which in my view is the best bit by far...
I'll get back to the Hugo reading soon, I promise. I took a break from it last week, because I had cramps and felt terrible, and because I kept on running into short stories which had really horrible things happening in them and I just didn't want any more of that in my head. But one must be brave in the service of democracy, so hopefully I'll finish the Campbells sometime this week...
Dear Lazyweb! How do you manage keeping spring boot applications up to date?
We run an arseload of Java webapps. Our devs have taken a strong liking to spring boot, where everything including the Tomcat is uploaded as a JAR. A delight for them, but somewhat of a concern for the sysadmins who are the people first dealing with security issues.
So I've been asked to come up with recommendations to deal with this, and I haven't a clue as to how to do this other than laborious iterative checking, or automated versions thereof. Nor can I find recommendations.
Has anyone else got this problem or one like it? (Where applications are uploaded as a package that then runs.) What do you do?
After this was the trip to Stuttgart to stay with relatives, about an hour's journey on the fast IC trains. The following day was a holiday, so we we took a tour of the city and especially around the Schollplatz. Visits to (and from) the Stuttgardians are always a pleasure; they're switched-on, savvy, and highly considerate of the needs of others. The children are polite, funny, and absolutely fascinated by Australian animals, which makes buying gifts a breeze. Additional time with them was quite accidental as the person I was supposed to visit at the local university had fallen ill, so we instead took a visit to the Trippsdrill Theme Park, which apart from the usual fare also integrates local history of Swabian life especially from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Following day started with a visit to downtown Stuttgart where I teased a person in a kangaroo suit (complete with joey) by chatting to them and putting on a very broad Australian accent with colloquialisms. It was a conclusion of some animal events from the past day which included a small finch that stunned itself after flying into a window and a visit by a red squirrel. Further down the road a woman was offering "Free Hugs" in the middle of the mall, so obliged this pan-handler. Afterwards we visited the Ritter Sports chocolate museum, which of course the kids loved. They had an absolutely appalling abstract expressionist art exhibition. When will people learn that such art (loosely defined), the enemy of realism and surrealism, was actually a CIA plot? The day has ended with dinner at for all at Das Pilum, an Italian-Swabian restaurant in former military barracks (the grounds date to Roman times).
Back in February, I keynoted at Pycon Pune in India. I decided to start with one of the questions that comes up frequently when I tell people that my day job is in open source security: “Is open source software really more secure?” Here’s the video!
Hopefully one of these days I’ll get the slides and a written transcript up, but for today, please just enjoy the video. Note that there’s some silence at the start of the video while we’re setting up. I start talking at the 1m50s mark, and the embedded video should start there.
Open source security is something I’m very passionate about, and I was really glad that the fine folk at PyCon Pune gave me the chance to tell their attendees more about what it means to be secure and what it will take to make open source security even better. I believe there were over 500 people in the room for my talk, even though I was the the final keynote for the conference, and it was one of the greatest audiences I’ve ever had the privilege to talk to — very responsive, lots of great questions, and lots of great follow-ups after the talk was done. If you ever get a chance to speak at Pycon Pune, I highly recommend it. Keep an eye out for next year’s call for speakers!
This also ticked off a few bucket list items for me:
- Visting India! I work with a number of people from India and meet new students from there nearly ever year, so I’ve always been curious, but it’s a long an expensive trip. Thankfully it turns out it was also on J’s bucket list so we found a way to make it happen. It’s a super beautiful country and very different from my own. We were fortunate enough to spend some time being tourists before the conference, as well as lots of time socializing with the conference attendees and volunteers.
- Keynoting a conference! I’ve wanted to do this for years but opportunities don’t come up very often and I wasn’t able to accept the last offer I got.
PS – Interested in inviting me to keynote? I’d love to do another one! Send an email to terri (at) toybox.ca to let me know. I have a list of my speaking experience on my website. I talk a lot about security, but I’m happy to talk about open source mentorship, community, artificial intelligence, and quite a few other things, just ask!
I have to admit, I've seen a lot in the last 12 years of travel, but there's only one remaining continent I have yet to step foot on: Antarctica. Yeah baby.
Yep, it will have been three years by the time I plan to take this international holiday since the last one, so I felt the scope of this holiday needed to make up for the time. Sure, I've been travelling interstate within Australia semi-regularly since returning here - and this is a big country to travel across - but I've been itching for a good overseas jaunt for quite some time. It's only been until now that I've been able to afford it. This means I would have walked on all the continents of the world before I turn 40.....not bad for someone who only started doing this in their mid-20s!
So I've been carefully choosing trips to the area (and found one through my usual favourite tour group) and have decided to take their Buenos Aires, Falkland Islands and Antarctic peninsula trip, that has me returning back to Buenos Aires, a visit to the Falklands and close islands with remote whaling communities, and - of course - a visit to the mysterious icy southernmost continent, home of penguins, research stations, and a polar plunge or two! A visit to Chile and crossing the Andes mountains beforehand will be a fantastic return to southern South America (since my last visit there in 2013), and I couldn't help but add in a stop-over in New Zealand on the way back; I'm hoping this might pave the way to a return trip and subsequent exploration of New Zealand in the near future.
So, the details so far are:
- 14 Nov: Melbourne, Australia to Santiago, Chile (-1 day crossing IDL)
- 17 Nov: Santiago to Valparaiso, Chile
- 20 Nov: Valparaiso to Mendoza, Argentina
- 22 Nov: Mendoza to Buenos Aires (BA), Argentina (Intrepid tour starts 23 Nov)
- 24 Nov: Plane, BA to Ushuaia, Argentina; ship, embark the Ocean Endeavour to sea
- 26 Nov: arrive at the Falkland Islands
- 27 Nov: leave the Falkland Islands, to sea
- 30 Nov: arrive at the South Georgia Islands
- 3 Dec: leave the South Orkney Islands, to sea
- 6 Dec: arrive at the Antarctic Peninsula
- 9 Dec: leave the Antarctic Peninsula, to sea
- 12 Dec: arrive and disembark at Ushuaia, Argentina; plane, Ushuaia to BA (Intrepid tour ends)
- 13 Dec: Plane, BA to Auckland, New Zealand (+1 day crossing IDL)
- 17 Dec: Plane, Auckland to Melbourne, Australia
I had a choice of transit points to get from Australia to South America, mostly from Sydney and mostly via New Zealand, flying with Air New Zealand via Auckland direct to BA, making possible backtracking to Chile a little difficult. Thankfully I was able to discover LATAM flights going direct from Melbourne to Santiago, and from Santiago to Auckland; finding connecting codeshare flights Qantas between BA and Santiago and Auckland and Melbourne made everything manageable.
The trip is fairly intense, considering the destination....and so is the price. I was actually very lucky and picked this trip early enough to qualify for an early-bird discount. The original price was $25,000: I managed to lock it in for $18,000. I was also lucky enough to find those flights - again, with a early-bird discount - for another $2,000. So far, that's $20,000. Yeah: ouch. Totally worth it though.
I'll be completely honest: you don't get such discounts without booking things waaaay in advance, a lesson which served me well travelling over Europe and especially so on the epic backpacker trip back to Australia in 2014. I slotted this in around this time in June 2016, paying it off over the subsequent 12 months in installments, slowly chipping away at it; a year later, I've nearly finished paying all of it off. So this New Year's resolution was actually a bridge from last year's: I made the decision in 2016, and the rest of the plans around it in 2017.
The only things left to arrange are the international coaches from Valparaiso via Santiago over the Andes to Mendoza in Argentina, and then from Mendoza to BA. And accommodation along the way. Oh, and the usual consular struggles getting visas arranged for Chile and Argentina. On the other hand, I've had some time to better practice my Spanish (of the Mexican and Colombian varieties at work) this time.
One year down, 5 months to go! :D
Monday rdm decided to take a TOIL and we dusted off the kayaks and hit the water. This is absolutely the best time of year - Djeran is persisting through much of June - and the afternoon shading into twilight on the middle reaches of the Swan River are a beautiful place.
For those that came in late, our Hobie Kayaks have the leg driven, highly efficient Mirage Drive, which leaves your hands free. My sore, swollen ankle from last Monday held up pretty well.
*edit* I don't know how the videos below look to you but I've successfully copied and pasted the links into an incognito window so it should work for you as a workaround until if/when I can get it sorted.
We were then joined by my primary partner, and we had a three-party date to see Wonder Woman, which was fantastic. So much fun, lots of awesome women, and Chris Pine makes a great sidekick.
I am coming to Wonder Woman very late. (There's a very sad story somewhere in there, of what I think was a movie book for some female superhero, which was on the book racks in my 4th grade classroom. It looked interesting, so I picked it up to read. It would have been at most a 45 minute time investment. Unfortunately, the movie itself was apparently deeply uncool, and reading the large-format with-pictures book of the movie was even more dorky. Which some young dickheads in my class promptly noticed, and mocked me for. Which ended my brief interest in the idea of comics at all.)
Lynda Carter, the original Wonder Woman, came to talk at Virtual Hammer one day. It was an amazing experience, and an honor to be in the same room. Of particular note was the engineer standing up, clutching her Wonder Woman lunchbox, and tearfully thanking her for being a successful woman who looked like her; Wonder Woman had given her the strength as a little girl to follow her passions. (Upon seeing that, a nearby male engineer who had drawn one of the golden tickets surrendered it: it would have been an interchangeable experience for him, but a lifelong dream realized for her.)
I kind of took the movie in as huge globs of thick awesome: the island! the women! the training! OMG THE OUTSIDER! and went from there.
My partner was sitting in the middle, and as such was getting fed treats from either side, and getting whispers from either side. At a certain point, after there had been screen time for a particular character, I had a thought, and whispered it. "I fear it would be too subtle for [a large loud comic book franchise movie] if [SPOILER] were really [SPOILER]." My partner threw their head back and laughed, and agreed: probably too subtle.
It's also amazing to have a superhero storyline with such a nice balance of fire and kindness. Wonder Woman is going to straight-up stab people. But she's going to see what else works, first. That's her whole concept. It's lovely.
The Girls Interrupting podcast had a little episode on the movie, and they talked about a thing from one of their favorite comics. ( Read more... )
In my own life, I aspire to be more like Wonder Woman, to extend a hand before straight-up stabbing -- but not waste time when it's actually clear that extending your hand is going to get it sliced off. And I think I've been falling behind on self-examination. I need to make more moments where it's just me. No matter how honest I am with my trusted friends, there's always the temptation to try to make myself look better than I know in my heart that I actually am. I can help solve that by narrowing the audience. I can widen it later if I like. It's scary to write down some of the things, but if I write them down, that means there's more room in my head for the important things. Kindness. Truth. The willingness to straight-up stab Nazis.
In my basement sits a bookcase that, I am told, was built by my grandfather. I don’t know; I never met him. He died three months before I was born.
The bookcase has a huge, multilayered wad of gum on the side from when I was a teenager, and had no idea what the bookcase was – it was just in my room, and I owned my room, and besides the gum wasn’t where my Mom could see it. It was my little act of dickish rebellion that, like a thousand other things I did as a teenager, I regret.
And that’s all it was for several years: my grandfather’s bookcase. My teenaged gum.
Now that I’ve taken up woodworking, I can now see the choices he made in making it: fixed shelves, because drilling in the holes for adjustable shelves is a pain in the ass. He chose a little hand-carved decoration along the top to hide the boxlike construction – not exactly beautiful, but a step beyond everyday bookcase making. It sits on a base for greater stability, which is something we haven’t done yet.
Now that I build things, it’s not a bookcase but a language my grandfather spoke. Were he alive today, I could grunt in a manly way and ask what tools he used back in 1960 to make this thing, and discuss where he kept his workshop, and ask about the staining.
And he would, in the way of all woodworkers, be able to point out every tiny flaw he could not correct. Every craftsman knows about them, because you cannot avoid them: that joint that isn’t perfectly snug, that router that drifted from the fence, that board that’s 1/16″ too short. Experienced woodworkers – and me and my crew are getting there – know how to hide those errors with wood putty and on-the-fly plan alterations, but we keep them tight to our chest. They are the secrets of furniture, an encrypted thieves’ cant of sorrow only told to others in the hobby.
Last night I made my own contribution to the house: a dye shelf I made for Gini in the basement. It’s made of pine, my first natural wood project – not that you’d know that because at the last minute Gini insisted on switching from a dark stain to a bright purple paint.
I can list all its flaws: the squaring is off by an eighth of an inch because the pine was slightly warped. There’s a gouge underneath the right third shelf where – you guessed it – the router drifted from the fence. The paint was the wrong kind for woodworking, latex, too sticky to sand the brush strokes off, so there’s dribbles everywhere.
Gini loves it.
And soon, it will earn its place in the basement, just another fixture in the house, a useful engine. And my garage workshop is filling other houses; we have two bookcases meant for Eric’s attic, and two customized shelves meant to fit in the gaps on either side of Jim’s fireplace.
And in a sense, I feel like I’m firing a flare into the future. I will die, like my grandfather before me. But my friends and family will know that Ferrett did woodworking – here, here’s the shelf he built for Gini, we didn’t have the heart to throw it out, can you use it?
Maybe some day there will be someone who never got to know me but can rest his hand on some shelf I built. And they too will speak this language of craftsmanship. And they’ll look at the speckly paint job and the uneven shelves and judge me, and they will look at the love it took to spend a few hours building something because your wife asked you to and adjust their thinking, and they’ll cock their head and look at this stolid thing as if trying to unravel what sort of man I am from the things I left behind.
I wish I could tell them. But I won’t last.
My shelves might.
Let them talk for me when I’m gone.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
I'm sorry that it's a pain in the neck to return the battery charger that you ordered for me, especially as you ordered it from a different store from usual and you don't really want store credit from them.
The thing is, I have sent you multiple emails over the last few years about my current battery charger and how it doesn't charge the batteries you insist are the best ones to purchase. And how this is causing problems for my whole floor, because you have also decided that we like cordless keyboards and mice. And I have spent hours arguing with Engineering, who refused to believe that this was even possible, even though it really, really was.
And when I never got a reply from you, I asked my fellow DivCos for recommendations, and tested a battery charger that one of them had obtained by direct purchase, to make sure it worked. I wrote on the requisition form that I wanted this specific charger, because I have spent three years with an unreliable battery charger.
So no, I am not willing to give the battery charger you ordered for me, which is completely different to the one I specified, a try. Yes, I get that you thought this one was a better one than the one I chose. But the one I chose WORKED. And I don't know if the one you chose will, and I really don't want to find out that it doesn't, because I'm pretty sure I won't be able to return it at that point.
And yes, I get that this is inconvenient. But I was SUPER clear in the comments that it had to be THIS battery charger and not a different battery charger, and I have been emailing you for YEARS about this.
PS - Also, you know how you don't like people just going off and purchasing stuff directly on their Institute credit cards? Well, if you don't want people to do that IT MIGHT HELP IF YOU ORDERED THE BLOODY
After a day on a plane, what does one do? Take a day-trip river cruise through the Rhine gorge of course. The modern Hotel Colombus was kind enough to let us check-in ridiculously early to freshen up before taking a bus tour of the main sights of Frankfurt that was part of the package, and then another bus to Assmannshausen. A chairlift provides some great views of this reisling varietal valley region which of course was sampled with lunch in a restaurant that rather overdoes the nautical theme. The cruise itself was, of course, a rather picturesque location with its vineyards, historic villages, looming cliffs (including the location of the Loreli legend), and a rather impressive collection of medieval castles many of which were used for what was effectively a protection racket. Of particular personal note was the Bacharach castle (which is now a youth hostel and recently held a gaming convention) and the Mouse Tower, site of where, according to legend Bishop Hatto faced a much deserved demise. Exhausted from what is effectively two days of relentless activity, rest has come easily.
Repealing Obamacare’s protections would be bad enough. But the new Trumpcare will most likely make your health care worse than before Obamacare was enacted – and if you lived through those days, you’ll remember they weren’t exactly fantastic for sick people.
You may say, “Well, I have health insurance through my employer, so I’m safe!” Unfortunately, it’s rumored the Senate is planning to allow employer-provided insurers to just stop covering you once they spend enough on you. Did your kid need an expensive operation? Well, your insurer’s paid enough as far as the Republicans are concerned. Now your employer’s Aetna coverage has run out, and you’ll have to find another job with another insurer if you want your kids (and you!) to be protected.
I say this is “rumored” because this is bill is so goddamned awful that the Senate refuses to publish a draft of the bill that the public can see. As it is planned by Republicans, there will be no public debates, no hearings, no explanations – just a simple vote before July 4th. Republicans bitch that Obama “rammed” the ACA through quickly, but that took 270 days and numerous town halls and hearings. The Republicans are literally not even letting the American people know what’s in this shitty bill because, as an aide said, “We aren’t stupid.”
Your only hope to knock this off the rails is to call your Senators. Now. You need to call today, because several of the Senators in charge of the bill are meeting to finalize their plans.
And unfortunately, while people were furious enough to flood their Senators’ offices with calls right after Trump got elected, sources say we’re back to the usual silence. People have given up.
I’m asking my fellow Americans: make two calls, one to each of your Senators. If they’re Republican, tell them how this shit will hurt you. If they’re Democratic, tell them to bring Congress to a stop until this is at least debated in public.
Here’s how you do it:
CALL, DO NOT EMAIL, THE AIDE IN CHARGE OF HEALTH CARE.
Politicians can ignore emails the way you do. They can’t ignore calls. Their staffers have to take the calls, which means their staff doesn’t get anything done while they’re handling calls, which means the Senator is far more likely to hear about how the office is slowing to a crawl because the ACA issue is jamming the lines.
In addition, most Senators don’t get that many calls; under normal circumstances, 15 people calling a day is huge. For an entire state. If you can get 50, that’s usually off the charts. So even one call can make a significant difference.
You want to call the aide in charge of health care to be sure you get heard. Fortunately, here is a list of all the staffers tasked with working on health care.
SAY YOU’RE A VOTER FROM YOUR TOWN.
Let them know you’re local up-front. Calling Senators when you’re not a potential voter generally does diddly. You do not have to give your name, though you can if you want; they may ask you for your zip code. If you have to leave a message, tell them you want a call back to confirm the message got through and leave your number.
HAVE A SCRIPT READY, IF YOU’RE SOCIALLY AWKWARD LIKE ME.
A good script is something like:
1) Protecting preexisting conditions is vital to keeping America strong;
2) Please do not repeal the ACA without a strong replacement that protects sick people (they’re going to repeal it, the idea is just to keep the parts that keep people alive), and the bill that passed the House is an abomination that will hurt sick people.
3) I will not vote for any Senator who helps repeal the ACA without a strong replacement, either in the primary or the general election.
You’re free to go on, if you like, but be polite. They kind of have to listen. In my experience, they’ll generally say they’ll pass the message onto the Senator, and hang up. But if you want to be that person who the office groans when they have to handle them – that polite-but-firm person who will be heard – then hey! You can contribute to the office gossip that people are really concerned about this ACA issue, which is good in politics.
CALL YOUR SENATORS, NOT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES.
That means you have to make a maximum of two calls, which will take ten minutes max. (Unless your Senator’s line is already clogged, in which case, keep calling.)
And here’s the trick: If you’re a conservative who’s opposed to mandating that insurers must be able to insure people with preexisting conditions (for some reason), flip the script and call as well. This is a republic, and you deserve to have your voice heard, even if I utterly cannot see why you’d support this particular bill except that you’re the sort of doof who’d punch a puppy if it made a liberal cry.
That said, I said back in January that “I fully expect the ACA will be repealed without a valid replacement.” If you don’t like that very real fact, then call now. I’m sick of calling. You’re sick of calling. The Republicans are making us sick… of calling.
Still. Call now. I hate to keep giving last chances, but man, we’re closer than ever to losing everything.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
I don't *think* I doubled up. But even though I use blister packs, I am behind on lunchtime meds because I often miss them by mistake...so it's not impossible and after I took them before, I had a weird sense of deja vu.
Fandom: Original Work
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Original Characters
Additional Tags: Polyamory, Parenthood, Education
Polyamorous parents have an unfair advantage at parent-teacher conferences.
I wrote this for All in the Family (familyex), an exchange of family-themed stories; I didn't hear about it until it was too late to sign up, but saw a prompt about polyam parents and couldn't resist. It includes four Jewish parents (of varying backgrounds and degrees of belief, though I wasn't explicit about that), a Nigerian-American teacher, enby rep, wheelie rep, one very bad joke, and a little boy who likes sparkly erasers.
It's the first time in ages that I've written a fully original short story. I sort of snuck it past myself. :) It was lots of fun. I might try signing up for more exchanges that are open to original work and see what happens.
I sang for the Catholics on Saturday. Actually, I conducted for the Catholics, too, after receiving an email from A 'just confirming that you are fine to conduct on Saturday' (to which I replied 'I am fine to conduct on Saturday, but this is the first I've heard that I'm doing so'). This was, inevitably, followed by badly-scanned music on Wednesday (pages 2 onward of everything were fine, but the first page of each piece was so blurry as to be nearly illegible), which turned out to be the Casali Mass, Rachmaninov's Cherubic Hymn and Tchaikovsky's Hymn to the Trinity, also featuring Cherubs. I didn't actually get a chance to look at any of this until Friday, due to choir on Thursday night and printing issues, and as is traditional, the first time we rehearsed this music as a group was on Saturday. Fortunately, this month's quintet contained only one brand new singer, two regulars, and one excellent singer who hasn't sung with us for a couple of years, but knows his stuff.
The Casali is lovely, and also we can sing it in our sleep by now, so that was nice. The Rachmaninov was made more exciting by his tendency to split the parts into two or three, which I'm all for under most circumstances, but not so much when there are only five singers. I made the executive decision to have the stand-in organist accompany that one,and it went fairly well. And the Tchaikovsky turned out to be one of those transcendent conducting experiences, because it's lovely music, and we have five, big, trained voices which blend very well together, and because it actually repeats its verses, that meant we got the hang of it enough that my four singers could look at me, which meant we had big crescendos and diminuendos, and sharp breaks where the echoes of our voices hung in the air, and it was properly dramatic and gorgeous and so much fun.
It really is delightful to conduct really good singers who are actually watching you! It is also very rare...
We have a long weekend this weekend, and I've spent most of it cooking. I have a new cookbook, Falafel for breakfast, that has such fascinating recipes that I want to try them all. But that would be ridiculous, so I am making twelve of them, which is of course an entirely sane and sensible number of recipes to make for, er, seven people including myself...
Tonight's savoury menu is:
Warm Carrot Salad
Roast Lamb stuffed with apricots and pistachios
Rice with lentils and onions and parsley
Brussels sprout and pomegranata salad
Zucchini, barley and herb salad
And probably roast potatoes because I'm feeling like there should be roast potatoes.
And for dessert we have:
Lemon slice with orange flower water
Tahini and orange cake
Date and Dukkah brownies
Chocolate and pistachio baklava
Kataifi shortcakes with berries and mascarpone
Alleged Persian Pavlova (alleged because it is definitely not pavlova - it is a meringue mixture into which one stirs halva, white chocolate, pistachios, almonds, rosewater, barberries, and probably other things I've forgotten, and it is utterly ridiculous and I had to try it because I could not IMAGINE what it would taste like.
So far, I've made all the desserts, prepared the lamb, and am about to make the bastilla filling. The rest will be done later.
I think there will be enough food.
In reading news, I just finished Wintersong, by S Jae-Jones, which I must not forget to nominate for a Hugo next year, because it's quite amazing. It's hard to describe, and structurally very weird, now I think about it - the first half is all fairy-tale, rescue-sibling-from-the-clutches-of-
It really has a very STRONG atmosphere, which is usually not the first thing I notice about a book, but there you go. It feels dreamlike and nightmarish and Jungian and fairy-taleish. I am not entirely sure whether the plot and characterisation make sense, and I am not entirely sure whether they need to, given all the things the author is doing. It's certainly not something I cared about at the time, and there is really something quite magnetic about the writing.
So yes, I recommend this one.
And that's all for now. I really need to write a story, but I have cramps and they make it very hard to think, so that's not going to happen today...
87.6km, 4h18mn driving time, ~5h wallclock. Just beat 20kph average. Video (starts on Laaer Berg).
And now I have severe sunburn. On my kneecaps.
Other than that, and apart from a 10km detour because signage for EuroVelo 9 sucks, it was uneventful. Mindnumbingly boring for long stretches, even.
"I heard about that. I'm so sorry for your loss --- and everything else," said La_a, eyes flickering over Quan's walker, neatly folded against the table.
"Yes," said Quan and concentrated on slurping her strawberry milkshake for a bit. "Thank you." She looked away, then cleared her throat. "Mo was a bit psychic. She knew it was coming. So we prepared."
La_a frowned. "Prepared?"
Quan looked back at La_a. "To make it count. "
La_a looked confused. Quan put her milkshake down and stretched out her hands across the table, palms up. "Give me your hands."
Quan smiled. "Come on, give me your hands. I want to show you something."
La_a raised an eyebrow, but put her own drink down and put her own hands in Quan's.
"Lie to me," said Quan.
"What?" said La_a with a laugh.
"Lie to me." Quan insisted.
"What's the color of your drink?"
La_a looked down at her iced coffee. She opened her mouth, but couldn't get the sound out.
Quan smiled. La_a snatched her hands away and covered her mouth. "Brown!" she gasped out. "What the fuck?"
"We have been fighting for a long time," said Quan. "Fighting and losing. "
"We have gained ground." La_a objected.
"Not enough and at too much cost." Quan leaned in. "I am tired of martyrs, La_a. We both were." La_a gave her a bitter smile.
"So we acquired powers."
Novella, I believe. It just about ticks the "long enough to write individually about". It's similar in length to Penric and the Shaman.
Our main POV character (main? memory says only one) (yes, I'm writing these in arrears, it's been a busy week, OK? (and, yes, nested and multiple authorial remarks is TOTALLY a thing)) is Vellit Booe, of the title. As the book starts, she is a doctor and professor of, uh, mathematics, I think, at the University of something or other, in the Dreamlands (yep, the ones fro the Cthulhu Mythos). And one of her students has just gone missing. And from here on, I shall let you imagine your own summary of what happens through the book.
This is the second larger work I've read that I can recall is set in some sort of dream-land (the other one would be Waking in Dreamland by Jody Lynn Nye, but I am frankly too lazy to chase linkage right now) and it is fascinating to me how both are similar and different. Anyway, this was a pretty good read.
Thought I'd better sample at least one book of the only entry in the 2017 Best Series Hugo final that I'd not previously read. Just, you know, to get a feeling for where it is, in comparison. Not, you know, necessarily expecting to consume all of them, at least a partial series completion would be a good thing.
And, a good thing it was. This is a rather interesting world, heavy on magic (well, perhaps not magic, as such, but we'd end up in definition-quibble pretty soon and no, just no)m and ever-present gods. Lots of gods. But not as many as there were before The God Wars.
I quite enjoyed this, there's charm and intelligence in the writing, there's an interesting world and I want to know more about it. And there's a bunch of more books in the series that I haven't read. If you like fantasy, this might just be It.
Now to handle logistics (borrow vehicle where the bike fits etc.).
Dating is fucking rough on straight men, and anyone who denies that isn’t paying attention. Men are culturally expected to make the first move, which means they’re putting themselves up to be rejected before a date even happens, which means that even trying to land a date – let alone the potential heartbreak of a bad date – starts to feel like a series of job interviews that nobody much wants you for.
(And yes, women get that too to some extent, but it’s not nearly as prevalent as it is with guys. If you’re a woman and you’re contacting dudes first to ask them out on dates instead of patiently waiting to be courted, thank you.)
So let me give you straight guys a piece of advice that it’s best to internalize right now, because it’ll make your life so much easier if you can genuinely come to realize this:
Nobody owes you a woman.
That is, honestly, not a message you’ve seen a lot of in the media. Because if you look at almost every action movie starring A Guy, if he’s really good at saving people he’ll get A Girl at the end of the film. If you look at comedies, there’s a schlubby guy with a good heart and nine times out of ten he’ll be rewarded with a really hot girl if he just learns the right lesson. Guys on sitcoms have hot wives, and their single friends are usually pathetically dysfunctional.
Your narratives have covertly conditioned you that if you do your job right, you’ll get a girl.
Which quietly trains you to believe that if you don’t have a girl, you haven’t done your job right.
And that conditioning creates a lot of side effects that actually make it harder for you to get the intimacy that you need. Because:
Some Guys Get Desperate To Prove Themselves.
Some men will be so determined to get the girl they think they should have – which is not the girl they actually like, but rather the prettiest one that proves their status in society. And they’ll hang around this woman who they have nothing in common with, feigning friendship because they’ve been trained that if they’re just “nice” the woman will eventually fall in love with them, pretending to like all sorts of things they hate like shopping and chick flicks and the wrong sports team…
And then that woman will frequently reject them because they’re not that interesting. Hey, all you do is nod and bob your head, why’s that compelling?
And when these guys are rejected after selling their soul to sniff the perfume, they get furious. I did so much for her!, they say.
Here’s the truth, my friend: If you’re hanging around anyone swallowing your pride in some desperate attempt to get laid, you are doing it wrong. Maybe you’re just so milquetoast that she doesn’t like you. Maybe she senses how you’re faking friendship to get into her pants. Maybe, hell, she really does like complete assholes.
Why are you hanging around someone you loathe? Why don’t you just find someone you do like? And the answer is often a subliminal “Because I was promised I’d get the woman of my dreams if I didn’t screw up too badly.”
Look. The woman of your dreams should be someone who you actually like, and likes you back. Shaving off pieces of your personality to achieve the Manly Aspiration of Getting The Right Girl is a mug’s game. Nobody’s worth that whether you’re a guy or a girl (and women who feign love in all the manly things to land the right guy are equally deluded).
But what you’re doing is this:
- I like that girl
- She’s supposed to be mine if I like her
- So if I don’t get her, I’m failing – not just personally, but failing in my role as a dude.
Give that up, my man. Try this:
- I am physically attracted to this girl
- Let’s see whether there’s a mutual interest
- If I don’t get her, why would I want to pretend to be someone I wasn’t to land someone who didn’t like me?
Contemplate all the compromises you’d have to make to become what she wants – and if that bill is too much, you’re smarter to walk away.
Some Guys Get Lazy.
Here’s the truth, man: you dress for the job you want.
There’s nothing wrong with going for the hottest girl in the room, but you gotta be honest about what you’re bringing to the table. If you’re going for some model-quality blonde and you’re Mr. Balding Paunchy, then you have to ask, “If I’m not going to woo her through sheer physical spectacle, what do I have to offer?”
Smart men will say, “Okay, I’ll work on my personality.” Or they’ll develop a unique talent – hey, Meatloaf got laid as a rock star, you can too. Or they’ll hit the gym and work those abs.
Dumb guys will, sadly, look at the hot girl and think, “Man, what a stuck-up bitch, she won’t even give me the time of day.” Well, you were walking over there to try to slide into her panties, so let’s not pretend you’re Gandhi in offering your magnificent friendship.
Alas, this “I shouldn’t have to offer anything” plan even applies to guys who are just casually dating. They inherit this List Of Things Women Want – a list made by equally inept guys – and blindly follow it, then get furious when women don’t actually desire the things on their imaginary list.
Truth: there are men with ten-inch dicks who can’t get laid because they come off as fakers, or stalkers, or both.
That “I am owed a woman” comes out very subtly, but it’s there in men thinking that women should flock to their feet by virtue of them, well, existing. And women who aren’t attracted to your immutable (and debatable) charm are just dumb, they can’t see your appeal, they’re stupid and insane and ingrateful….
And again, why the fuck do you want to date these women you hate so much?
Why are you spending energy to chase women you despise?
My advice is dress nice and learn a joke or two. But if you’re not gonna do that, why buy into the idea that women are something you have to have? You could just buy sex from a sex worker – except no, that’s pathetic, a real man should get a woman he loathes because again, you’re owed a woman.
You’re not. And when you stop thinking of women as something you should just have and start thinking of intimacy as something you have to cultivate, then you start actually paying attention to actual individual women, and see what they’re into, and decide whether you want to spruce up those aspects of yourself.
You may have to perform a bit. That’s okay. Most women wear makeup, too.
Some Guys Settle.
Some guys, unfortunately, do find a woman who’ll sleep with them. She’s not a woman they have anything in common with – note the theme? – but she is willing to sporadically put his penis in their vagina, and hey, she’s not actively offensive.
And then these guys get committed, marrying women who might as well be alien creatures for all they understand and/or empathize with them, and they wind up in a relationship that’s equal parts frustration and working around the existence of their partner.
Dudes. Again. You can say no. Just because someone’s willing to sleep with you doesn’t mean they’re compatible with you. Hell, you might even want to turn down some sex because it comes with strings you’re not comfortable with.
Yet guys are, once again, conditioned to be less of a man if they reject sex. Sex is what all men want all the time, and if they don’t feast upon the sex whenever it’s offered they’re not real men.
Do not buy into this.
I tell women all the time that they’re right to reject men if they don’t want them. Remember that you also have the right to turn women down. Don’t be cruel, but you can break off any relationship that makes you antsy, you can refuse sex even if someone’s throwing themselves at you, you can make your own choices.
Don’t buy into this model of scarcity.
Some Guys Enter The Oppositional Stage And Never Exit It.
The larger truth is this:
Women aren’t all that mysterious. They have different priorities, but that’s often because they have different experiences (and, yes, different cultural conditioning, which is why you see an unfortunate number of women patiently waiting for their prince to arrive).
It’s not that women don’t want casual sex – it’s that they’re not convinced your casual sex will be any good (look up the number of women who come from first-time hookups and realize women have roughly a 50/50 shot of having it be good for them), and they don’t know that you’re not the guy who’s going to imprint on them like a duckling and waddle around after them for the next seven months.
Women often don’t give an emphatic “no,” instead leading you on – but that’s because while dating is psychologically dangerous to you, the danger of some asshole physically assaulting a woman if she comes off as too bitchy is real for them. They may give you a quiet brush-off because they can’t be sure that you’re not the guy with the oversized ego and the roid rage.
There’s all sorts of distinctions like that. If you can understand those differences, and account for them, your path to intimacy will be a lot easier. And you’ll also not be sleeping with people you secretly resent because HOW DARE THEY NOT SLEEP WITH ME I’M A NICE GUY AND AS A NICE GUY PUSSY IS MY BIRTHRIGHT.
Truth is, you’re not owed a woman, and you’re not less if you don’t manage to find one. Sometimes you’re not finding A Woman because you are, quite sanely, holding out for someone who’s actually compatible with you. Sometimes you’re alone because you have standards, and that’s a good thing.
And ironically, giving up the resentment usually clears the path for more intimacy. Drop the rose-tinted goggles to see what women actually desire, and what you actually desire, and it’s much better when you work to make that happen. (Plus, when you stop seeing women as some trophy to be had, you can approach the concept of genuine platonic friendships with women – and as a dating tip, there’s no better way to be introduced to women than by having enthusiastic female friends who’ll vouch for you. You may not get that woman, but you get a friend and the potential connection with all her friends.)
Or you could unthinkingly approach dating like it’s The Great Prophecy Of A Woman Will Arrive If I’m Not Particularly Bad At My Job. In which case you may eventually find a woman but by the time you get there you’ll be enraged, desperate, and not particularly good for each other.
Not gonna lie. It’s tough out there.
But you can do better.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
Out-of-hours had a great experience on Tuesday night visiting the Astor with Pete T., for a screening of the classic Australian low-budget dystopia that started an epic series, Mad Max. The evening was also the launch of Luke Buckmaster's new book on the making of the film, Miller and Max. A good number of the original crew and and bit-piece actors were also present in conversation and they had some very colourful stories to say about the production. Pete and I spent a good period of time in conversation with the crew who had a few classic items from the set, including Toecutter's bike helmet.
Other major events of the week including James Fodor presenting at The Philosophy Forum on Where Does Morality Come From?, which provided a bit of a topology of the landscape. There were two major gaming sessions this week, one for GURPS Middle Earth on Sunday and the last session of Laundry Files Australia on Wednesday night. Finally, University House hosted a UK Election event this afternoon, with lots of traditional British fare. The results, much discussed, are well known with the Conservatives probably just able to form government after having their 20 point lead reduced to 2.5 in the course of the campaign. It is almost certain that Jeremy Corbyn will be the next Prime Minister of the UK.