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[personal profile] copperbadge
I still have to review Extra Virginity as well, but I actually liked that one, so it will take longer to compose….

One of the things I did get done yesterday between work, the ball game, and the Epic Sunburn, was finish a slim book of short stories called A City Equal to My Desire by James Sallis. This wasn’t a book that was recommended to me, which means I don’t have to feel bad about truly disliking it. I found it in a keyword search on the library website for books about ukuleles, and it has a short story called Ukulele And The World’s Pain, which admittedly was one of the better stories in the book despite still not being very good.

From what I can tell, he did pick the best story out of the book to develop into a novel, “Drive”, but it is very obviously unfinished in short-story form. Sallis has a couple of ongoing problems in the short story collection, one of which is that he tends to skip the vital information you need in order to know what the fuck is going on. And not in a “the blanks slowly get filled in” way, or in a “your imagination is more terrible” way (though there is a little of that) but just in a way where like…he says something that you understand to be vital to the story but which is missing context, then spends like a page describing the fucking diner someone’s sitting in, and by then any context forthcoming doesn’t get linked back. It’s like being in the middle of a paragraph when you hit the photo plates in an older book – yes the photos are very interesting thank you but I need to finish the thought you were sharing with me before I go back and look at them. I think maybe he thinks this is challenging the reader but it’s not, it’s just annoying and makes what are otherwise interesting premises totally opaque. I shouldn’t need to work this hard for a story about a hit man who decides not to kill a politician. 

If the book had a more cohesive theme in terms of the stories, it might be more readable – he clearly enjoys building worlds and then doesn’t quite know what to do with them once he’s built them, so if this was an entire book of “weird and different worlds” ala Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, I would buy in more fully and I think he would have put a little more elbow in. But it’s not. It’s mostly “here’s a really interesting world and a person living in squalor in it does something while being in it”. Also he appears to be fascinated by describing things that are shaped like pi. And a lot of times it feels like he read a wikipedia article on something and wanted to share some knowledge, so he just kind of built a half-assed story around his wikiwander. 

And all of this I would probably let go if say, it was something I was noticing in a fanfic writer, or someone who was just starting out, or someone I felt was genuinely trying to get a point across. But there’s this inexplicable sense of arrogance to the collection, a sort of smugness to it that in professional writers drives me up the goddamn wall. Stephen King sometimes falls into the same trap, where it feels like the author believes they don’t have to respect their readers because they are The Writer. 

The thing about volumes of short stories is that you keep reading it because sometimes there is a real gem. And there are one or two good stories in the volume, but I don’t know if they’re worth the rest of it. 

So my review I guess is mostly me being annoyed, but it boils down to “If you like short stories in the SFF Noir genre, give it a whirl, but if you’re bored with a story none of them get better, so feel free to skip to the next one.” 

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(no subject)

Jul. 21st, 2017 02:12 am
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
[personal profile] staranise
I need to get someone to sit with me and help me deal with work email, because I've reached the point of really, SERIOUSLY intending to deal with it... and achieving as much as opening my inbox in a tab, before I have to walk away from my computer for three hours to stave off a panic attack. There's not even anything that bad there! I'm just being... blah.

In better news, I had a good fannish week for once. I started a kinkmeme! ([community profile] omgsexplease)

Next week I'm going to Ottawa to visit my girlfriend, so that's nice.

Genetics

Jul. 20th, 2017 07:33 pm
mildred_of_midgard: (Doc)
[personal profile] mildred_of_midgard
I just finished a certificate in genetics from Stanford.

It was...easier than I expected. There was some biochemistry, but a lot of the certificate was aiming at making non-biologist professionals conversant in recent developments. Which is a worthy goal, but I was hoping for more rigor.

After the second course (of six), I considered not completing the certificate, because it was so superficial. Then it occurred to me that almost all of my education to date, minus a handful of individual classes, has been what I deemed too easy and superficial, and finishing it still gave me something to point at on my resume. So I went ahead and finished the certificate. No one has to know it was easy.

Honestly, when I contemplated what I would say if asked for feedback on my PhD program right after I graduated, my answer would have been "It was too easy; the bar needs to be higher."

Also, Dunning-Kruger effect is a thing.

So yes. I am pleased with this. I learned a little, and hopefully it'll be a good investment in potentially working in the biomedical sector someday, if I decide to go that route.

Hamilkitties!

Jul. 20th, 2017 03:09 pm
rachelmanija: (It was a monkey!)
[personal profile] rachelmanija


Curious Alex.





Erin, waiting for it.

writey thing

Jul. 19th, 2017 07:46 pm
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
Actually worked a bit on the Writey Thing for the first time, I think, since April.

I somehow drabbled. This is pure setting-background scenery-brainstorming sense-detail, came out in second person for no particular reason, dunno if it will be in the story, but I have got to be writing on the regular, I need that habit and that mode of expression. I'll take it.

Mentions food, wilderness. Here it is.

Read more... )
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I am like….90% sure I’m going camping this Friday. 

It depends a bit on the weather, but I’m mostly packed, I’ve cooked food that’s currently waiting in the freezer, and I have acquired the third Diane Mott Davidson book to read. 

The plan is to leave work early, catch the train to the campground, camp overnight, and in the morning hike out to a different train station further down the line, about a seven-mile trek, to do a longer endurance test than last weekend’s. Then I’ll catch the train home around noon on Saturday.

If something goes wrong, I can catch an evening train home on Friday until eight o’clock, or starting in the morning at 5:30, with little to no exertion. It’s pretty low-risk and I’m well stocked. I don’t have a sleeping pad, but my backpack has a partial one built-in, and I have one arriving tomorrow (though it might be too bulky, we’ll see). And honestly in this heat, I might just sleep on top of my sleeping bag in any case. 

Worst case scenario, the campground has heated, lockable shower cubicles with nice big floors. I’ve slept on worse. 

Caaaaaaamping! *jazz hands*

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alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
got sucked into computerland for a bit

going for a walk

will check things when I get back

went and did stuff

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:59 pm
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
Petted FOUR cats on neighborhood walk this morning. Porch Cat, Calico Neighbor Cat, the little bitty mostly-white calico who seems to be their neighbor and rival, and a black and slightly-tuxedo cat out for a walk with his person.

Did a bit of chores of the paperwork-y sort, and communicated reasonably well with S about chores’n’stuff.

Sent my sibling B a picture of me with my genderqueer-flag-striped cat-face button!

Today met up with the excellent [personal profile] kengr at Powell’s City of Books in the afternoon. We had a great conversation. Hooray for people I like to talk to actually living somewhere nearish! Did not buy ALL the things though I was tempted. Also I got a couple of books by C.J. Cherryh, who is a very good writer. Mwahahaha.

Had a great walk. [Content note: Exercise, food, brain weirdness, body weirdness] Read more... )

Found some things that might could be useful while walking. Made tentative plans/options for hopefully-productive tomorrow.

ww thingie

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:11 pm
domarzione: (Default)
[personal profile] domarzione
 More stuff I should have posted here but posted to tumblr instead: 

The first girl who arrived was Nirva. She appeared on the horizon in a small rowboat, her too-thin arms fighting the oars as well as the ocean. By the time the sentry ship came for her, she was rowing on will alone, tears streaming down her face and her hands bloody. Her answer, when challenged by Paraskeve, was to hold up a stoppered glass bottle that held a folded a note inside.

“To Queen Hippolyta, from her loyal subject and daughter, Diana,” the outside read.

Nirva and her bottle and her meager pack, tied in a knot any Amazon would recognize from her earliest training, were brought to the Queen. Nirva did not speak - could not speak - and they only learned her name from the letter inside. She was an Armenian from Mardin who had lost her home and her family along with her words and so much else and Diana had sent her to Themyscira to heal. “Please, my Queen, I beg you to let our home be a home to her, let my sisters be sisters to her, let our strength protect her until she regains her own, let our peace fill her heart.”

Nirva’s timorousness and frailty both angered the Amazons and moved them to pity. She was sent to live with Euadne, since there were no such thing as guest quarters in a land with no visitors.

It took months for her to stop flinching at footsteps, longer still for her to find her voice - emerging finally as a scream, primal and raw. Her story, once told, gave rise to much discussion in the Queen’s council over the future of the Amazons and the protection of Themyscira. What was not discussed, at least not in front of Hippolyta, was what had become of Diana.

Nirva grew stronger and less haunted, the dimness in her eyes replaced with the spark of life. She learned archery and horsemanship, since every Amazon must know how to defend herself and her city. But while she eventually earned her own set of armor, she found her true place by the glassmaker’s brazier as an apprentice to Klytie. 

delight as a daily practice

Jul. 17th, 2017 09:58 pm
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
Things which have, today, delighted me:

Improvements in my overall mental and physical functioning of late; most especially, the energy to do small practical things and random acts of kindness without nearly always stalling out somewhere between the idea and the result.

People being happy about things I have said and done for them or for the world in general: an online friend who got a package, a physical-space neighbor who is possibly on the way to being an actual friendly acquaintance, a partner who gave & got help, listening, and smiles, a passerby who called us superheroes for putting out a smoldering leaf pile where someone had tossed a cigarette.

Petting numerous cats. So many! So fluffy! So purr! 3 of 4 cat sightings successfully negotiated to pets on my morning walk, plus 1 kitty this evening on the way back from the car. Cats yesterday, too!

Our garden plot. The shade of the central fig tree is extraordinarily peaceful. In various plots, there are strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries in some stage of bearing fruit. In our plot, we have lots of herbs, lots of things growing that aren’t harvestable at the moment, and a tremendous bumper crop of green beans! I am managing - so far - to handle totally-reasonable-in-origin worries about watering enough, weeding enough, and logging required community service hours despite the entirely unreasonable level of anxiety the provoke. With the rich compost that I nurtured on my shovel and the herbs that I grew in my mouth and the sun on my back and the wind on my face, it’s pretty doable.

Dreamwidth, and the community I find there. Thanks.

AI movement

Jul. 17th, 2017 09:53 am
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
AI teaches itself to walk, run, jump inside a physics simulation. Comes up with a flappy runny sometimes-sideways walking style. Looks inefficient to many self-appointed experts. Works well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn4nRCC9TwQ

I am feeling my robot side today. And angry that people have a problem with flappy arm running.

*zoom*

EDIT: Note to self: Write a proper video transcript/descript to share, darn it!

In which Mildred is very boring

Jul. 20th, 2017 09:49 am
mildred_of_midgard: my great-grandmother (mildred)
[personal profile] mildred_of_midgard
But very pleased with herself. Adulting accomplished this week:
  • Scheduled electricity service for my stepdaughter's new apartment.

  • Ditto gas.

  • Ditto internet.

  • Figured out local tax and business registration laws regarding my stepdaughter's freelancing activities and gave her the info.

  • Scheduled a pickup for the neighbor's old sofa that she's left sitting on the porch and promised and promised she'll get someone to take away for a year, and which has been driving my wife crazy.

  • Put my exercise bike on freecycle, craigslist, and facebook, and got it taken away.

  • Disassembled and threw out the laptop stand for said bike.

  • Arranged a donation pickup for my wife's and my old books, clothes, etc.

  • Scheduled a dental appointment.

Phone calls made: 6

(I haaate phone calls. I woke up Monday morning well-rested and high-energy, and I took advantage to make myself at least get started on almost everything on the list before noon; otherwise I was going to procrastinate forever.)

*Fingers crossed* for more exciting accomplishments coming this evening and tomorrow evening.

(no subject)

Jul. 17th, 2017 08:48 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways to Give:

[tumblr.com profile] readera's partner, J, has been in the ER multiple times in the past three months, and their finances are very strained because of it. They're raising $300-$500 for transportation costs and medicine; you can read more and reblog here or give directly here.

[tumblr.com profile] sleepyheathen needs to make next month's rent and is selling items, offering commissions, accepting donations, and has an Amazon wishlist up. You can read more, purchase, or reblog here, or donate via paypal here.

[tumblr.com profile] tony-in-distress is trying to escape an abusive situation and hoping to take her siblings with her. She needs to raise enough money for a deposit on a safe house for her and her siblings to live in. You can read more and help out here.

Anon is raising funds to help a friend cover debt and pay for legal bills after her abusive husband took custody of their youngest son. You can read more and give here; unfortunately due to Australian law apparently they can't provide much information.

Sarah Sadat had to leave her job recently due to stress and is facing mounting medical bills for a failing kidney and previous hospitalization; she has surgery scheduled for next month, and is fundraising to help cover medical and other bills. You can read more and give to the fundraiser here.

[tumblr.com profile] ohstephyy was let go from a job three months ago and hasn't been able to get another one; there are also other costs coming up to cover. You can read more and reblog here; a paypal address is available at the post.

[personal profile] laurashapiro linked to a fundraiser for [personal profile] kuwdora, a talented vidder who is trying to become a professional editor. She has an opportunity for professional coaching from the editor of Burn Notice and Empire, but can't afford the expenses on her own. You can read more and help out here.

Anon linked to [tumblr.com profile] tiarasnteakettles who is looking for work as a harpist, including attempting to purchase a harp that would be a massive upgrade from her current instrument and allow her more freedom in performance. You can read more about her situation and reblog here, including links to her Patreon and online store and Paypal donation address.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and has a fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.

News To Know:

Anon linked to [tumblr.com profile] wanderlust-anthology, an upcoming anthology of reimagined myths, legends, and folklore based on the theme Quests and Journeys. They are looking for creators for this anthology, which will be a full-color printed book with stories, comics, and artwork. You can read more at their tumblr or at the FAQ here; sign-ups close July 30th.

Housing:

Riel is looking for a roommate in Austin, TX to share a townhouse; she and the other roommate (male) are both grad students, and they do have a cat. Riel is very fandom-friendly. Lease starts in August. You can check out the townhouse here and get in touch at ariellayendler at gmail.com.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.

(no subject)

Jul. 15th, 2017 10:03 pm
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
[personal profile] staranise
Tonight I watched All the President's Men with my mom, since I keep seeing references to the Watergate scandal these days and I wanted to get a better understanding of it--so many sources assume such an intimate knowledge of it that I find them hard to untangle, so seeing it in movie format made it easier to understand. I came away with two big thoughts:

1. The quote I've always heard about Watergate is, "It's not the crime, it's the coverup." Which makes sense in the specific sense of the Washington Post's investigation of Nixon--they kept uncovering facts that in themselves were completely inconsequential; what led them on was the fact that shortly after, the person who disclosed that fact would issue a terrified denial that the fact was untrue, they had never said the fact was true, they'd never heard of anyone connected to the fact, and they'd never issued a previous statement about the fact at all.

Whereas the truth I'd never quite realized is that Nixon's crimes were in fact far worse than what he did to cover them up. I grew up hearing vague explanations like "Nixon paid someone to keep quiet" or "Nixon recorded conversations" as to what the wrongdoing was--not the final, absolute fact, which was that Nixon put the government to work destroying his political opponents, and only got caught at a bare tenth of it. And I can't tell if that's because the grandparents who set the political tone of my childhood were very politically conservative, or... what. But a lot of hippie conspiracy theories seem a lot less crazy to me now.

2. Oh my god, seeing all those board rooms full of very important white men making all the decisions, seeing women continually relegated to the sidelines, only getting tiny hints of people of colour, is bizarre. That's... that's what the world used to look like. "Mona, take my calls," a reporter barks out as he dashes out to chase a lead. Is that actually Mona's job? Is Mona also a reporter, who has to chase her own leads down while being ignored and asked for coffee, Peggy-Carter-like? My god, there are still people who remember that world, who think they live there.

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