Life is still hard.

Apr. 21st, 2015 02:30 am
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[personal profile] gorgeousnerd
Things are still sad. I'm feeling better for the most part, but I'm still having problems...doing things? I don't know if it's executive functioning problems or tied to my anxiety or a combination, but it's been happening for years where, if I have a bad day or series of days, it can take me additional days on top of that (or even weeks) to actually regain what level of ability I would call my average (which isn't great, but is something). I know two things: I've had an even harder time getting my feet under me recently than before, and it hasn't always been like this (it started in high school). If I could address this much, my quality of life would go up dramatically, since things like writing or reading would be easier for me, but I don't know where to start.

Oh well. In the meantime, I have video games and new music (the new Adam Lambert and Panic! songs are keeping me company tonight) and TV. I've also gotten a lot of nice kiddo time - Nibling is so interesting right now, and Dosling's almost six months old now, which is a fun age - so there's always nice things. I'm just frustrated, to put it mildly.

Rethinking my Hugo voting

Apr. 21st, 2015 07:51 am
lizw: Tiffany Aching looking up at the sky, with the words "Tiffany Aching is thinking Third Thoughts" (third thoughts)
[personal profile] lizw
I'm beginning to have doubts about the voting strategy I outlined in my previous post on the Hugos (LJ/DW), where I said I would place No Award ahead of any slate nominees that had not distanced themselves from the slate, even if they were not themselves actively involved in the disgusting hate speech that some of the ringleaders have spewed over our fandom. Essentially there are two things giving me pause:

Firstly, Vox Day has said that he will treat No Award as a victory for the Rabid Puppies. Not that he necessarily gets to declare unilaterally what the victory conditions are, but it does suggest that my previous approach of ranking No Award ahead of almost all slate candidates would not send the message I wanted it to. Arguably nothing would, because Vox Day will try to spin just about anything into a victory, but if there's no way of achieving your goal, it makes all the more sense to redefine what you're trying to do. Tl;dr: Maybe GRRM is right and the answer is just to vote on merit. )

Adventures in registering to vote

Apr. 21st, 2015 10:23 am
happydork: A graph-theoretic tree in the shape of a dog, with the caption "Tree (with bark)" (Default)
[personal profile] happydork
So, before I get started, I just want to make one thing clear: my flat does actually, y'know, exist. Physically. It's a thing. [personal profile] such_heights and I haven't just spent the last month accumulating kitchen appliances, bookshelves and brightly coloured soft furnishings only to put them in a pile on a street somewhere before standing back, hands on hips, to nod proudly at a job well done.

But it is quite a new physical thing that exists -- the building we're in was extensively remodelled recently, and I think it used to have a different number/configuration of commercial and residential sub-building-bits in it. It's a new enough physical thing that exists that it doesn't always show up on people's databases -- including, we discovered yesterday, the local authority's.

We'd registered to vote online a few weeks ago but not received polling cards, so yesterday I rang up just to check that everything was tickity boo. Spoiler: It was neither tickity nor boo, and so two paper voter registration forms (so retro!), a copy of our tenancy agreement and I made our way to the Town Hall on registration deadline day...

After some (friendly, helpful, scrupulously polite) back and forth, mainly involving one poor guy running up and down to his office to consult with people too busy to run up and down themselves, they decided that the safest thing would be for me and [personal profile] such_heights to register as people with no fixed or permanent address.

All fine, all good, possibly going to skew the statistics a little but basically sure, whatever, needs must, I start merrily filling in the forms. Names, fine. Dates of birth, yep, this is easy, I can do this. NI numbers, cool, the guy is going to bring down the old forms so I can just copy that straight across, all good. But then, question 9: "Please give us the address or place where you spend a large part of your time."

"Can't you just--?" said my friendly, helpful, scrupulously polite new friend when he came down to return my old forms. "Ah. No. That's not good, is it?"

No, new friend. No, it wasn't.

[We think we sorted it in the end, but I guess we won't know until we either do or don't receive polling cards. Oh well. At least we tried.]


Apr. 21st, 2015 05:08 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." -- Thich Nhat Hanh

[Happy birthday to [info] patches023!]

deep breath of the day

Apr. 21st, 2015 10:08 am
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[personal profile] lamentables
deep breath of the day

This is from last Thursday's walk of the day, taken after I got home from my uncle's funeral.

My father was the youngest of six. The eldest child was a girl, the rest were boys. Brother #3 died many years ago, and his wife not long after that. Brother #4 died perhaps 20 years ago. My aunt died in 2012, and at her funeral I saw Brother #1 for the first time in about 40 years. He was 17 or 18 years older than my dad, but seemed fitter. I saw him again in January at my father's funeral and, though he was a bit confused, he still seemed quite healthy. Sadly, he fell in ill in March and died while I was away on holiday.

I thought I was stressed about attending the funeral because I have very mixed feelings about family stuff and, if I'm honest, resented the fact that my sense of duty was going to cost me an entire day. I was restless and didn't sleep well, and then had to rush around preparing for an early start. In the car on the way to my mother's house I started getting the chest-squeezing-can't-breathe feelings that I experienced at my father's funeral and realised that the true reason for my reluctance was that it felt like my dad's death was happening all over again. Knowing that made it easier to handle.

It was like my dad's funeral all over again. So many of the people were the same. Similar things were said about my uncle, about his move from mining to teaching (encouraged by my father after his own career change) and the impact he had on his pupils. There was the church service, with the hymn-singing I couldn't do, and the food afterwards in a church hall. The funeral directors were the same (my brother and I chatted and laughed with the woman we'd dealt with). I didn't cry; I couldn't open up all that emotion again. My brother cried for my father. My cousin cried for her not-yet-dead father.

Brother #2 is now the only surviving member of that generation. He's persona non grata, having fallen out with the rest of his siblings (over money and inheritance) and refused to attend his mother's funeral. His daughters have made huge efforts to be part of the family, despite their father's obstinacy and their mother's (lifelong) unpleasantness. They've been much more a part of the family than I have ever been and know more of its history. Brother #2, like my father, has Parkinson's disease and in addition has recently had a number strokes. He won't survive the year. I have decided - and my brother and mother concur - that I will attend his funeral, because for me it will be about his daughters and their supportiveness, not about him or his wife. I do not want to go, or to go through that again, but I want to be there for them.

I had bad dreams on Friday night, in which my father was literally dying for a second time, and we all had to face it with full knowledge of how it went first time around. Being around these people who are largely strangers and also family is something I'm finding really difficult and really disruptive. They are not the people I thought they were, they are more interesting and less suffocating. I feel terribly guilty about how little I know of them, and how much connection they have with each other, whilst having no desire to be absorbed into their network. I recognise that, when I was young, I absorbed a lot of my mother's snobbish dislike of my father's family and mistook it for fact, for my own feelings (not to disclaim all responsibility for my prejudices). I feel regret about all the memories I don't have and for the family history that is disappearing so quickly, whilst not wanting to do anything to remedy it.

It seems that all my recent reading connects with these things. Some of the books were deliberate choices, some came as a surprise. Several made me weep. I was going to write about them, but I don't think I'm ready for that yet.

hedge of the day

Apr. 21st, 2015 09:28 am
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[personal profile] lamentables
hedge of the day

I spent the winter walking in normal-people clothes, but now the weather is suitable for walking in my normal clothes. This half of the village is used to my wardrobe, but I'm not sure the other half of the village is ready for me. Striding around the Northamptonshire countryside in kurta salwar while being white can get you some funny looks. I try to help by adopting the prescribed manner of the English eccentric, greeting everyone with cheer and apparent obliviousness, but I'm not sure how much good it does.

Warm me up in a nova's glow

Apr. 21st, 2015 01:26 am
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
[personal profile] naamah_darling
Saw the gastroenterologist and his awesome beard today, and had a really good, productive conversation.

There's only so much that can be done about this from his end, but we discussed some options for me, and stuff he could give me to try.  Most of it's going to have to be managed with behavior and diet.  So, at least the ball's in my court.  It may be difficult, but I have control.  I prefer that to needing someone else's help.  Or meds.

I had wonky bloodwork last week, a couple of things that should not be high were slightly high.  Not worrisome, but I still worried because . . . well . . . unexplained.  So we discussed that, and agreed to re-test in six months or a year since none of it was even remotely scary, just a little odd.  Still have to talk to my GP about it -- she's the one who ran the bloodwork -- but that settled a lot of my (pretty minimal, tbh) concerns.

I ate . . . really well today.  Like, rich food.  And it hasn't come back to bite me yet.  So, tomorrow, probably.  I'll expect to reap the whirlwind.

The mostly not eating thing has kept the pain from coming back, but obviously that's not a long-term solution to anything.  I've already lost nearly five pounds from this bullshit.  That can't keep up.  That's bad.  Ew.  No.  Wrong.

So . . . keep plugging away at it, I guess.  That's all I can do.  And try to get the food thing straightened out before my bloodwork gets even screwier.

This isn't optimism, but it's the absence of total despair, so I'll take it.

(no subject)

Apr. 21st, 2015 01:30 am
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
[personal profile] staranise
Tonight my computer's acting funny so I'm backing it all up out of rabid superstition. I had to do some extra tinkering with some files to get the right permissions set for them, because they've followed me across five or six computers. Is there an obscure library rule somewhere against squirrelling away research articles pulled off JSTOR in 2006? Because if it looked shiny I've kept it, the whole way along.

In June sometime (God willing) I'll sit my final competency exam for my Master's and be done with the whole affair. It's funny, having seen other people approach this versus doing it myself. They're not worried about compiling the personal-achievement portfolio, but I'm dreading the thought of compiling my old grade sheets and assignments.

Meanwhile, more pertinently, while my friends have shit bricks over compiling a three-page annotated bibliography that shows evidence-based research for their practice, I'm only worried about slimming mine down and typing out their names correctly. I've amassed hundreds of pdfs in my personal files, and even after everything it takes nothing more than a glance at the title or preview for me to remember exactly what's in each of them. It was actually really disturbing lately to want to refer to a case study (a Narrative Therapy "pity party" approach to child tantrums) and not be able to find a citation for it.

A while back someone on Tumblr wanted resources on psychological trauma and I was like, "Sorry, you've got to narrow it down here," and they said, "Nah, just throw me everything you have," and that is like the opposite of helpful because handing some stranger 200 copyrighted documents is a hell of a lot of work and risk. Just go read Judith Herman, okay?

If they let me take it (I'm registering late, what else is new) I'm looking forward to the exam in June. I test well, always have; my heart rate drops under stress, and my mind finally goes quiet and clear. It's the quiet furor of everyday life that trips me up.
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Ex Machina (2015)

Apr. 20th, 2015 11:16 pm
starlady: Cindi Mayweather running through Metropolis (i believe in the archandroid)
[personal profile] starlady
This is another movie that I've been tracking obsessively on IMDB, and I was very happy to see that it was playing in San Francisco when I got here last week. I think it was Kate Elliott on Twitter who made a comment about it last year that tipped me off, and I have to say, it's one of the best and most stylish SF movies I've seen in a while. I would highly recommend it to just about everybody.

The plot is simple, and revealed within the first five minutes: a young software developer at a tech giant (Blue Book, sort of like Google crossed with the Weyland Corp.) wins a company-wide lottery to spend a week at the reclusive founder's estate…to serve as the human component in a(n unorthodox) Turing Test, since it turns out the the reclusive founder has been spending his time working on AI, and he's come damn close.

There's a lot to say about the Turing Test, gender, artificial intelligence and the various ages of cybernetics beginning in the 1950s and they way they have understood information versus consciousness with respect to embodiment. I'm a big fan of Kate Hayles' book How We Became Posthuman, which means that I'm a highly informed skeptic about all of those topics from a feminist perspective, and the thing I liked best about the movie was how shockingly intelligent it was about all of these things. Everything in the movie is consciously commenting on these exact same issues (just as Caleb, the programmer, quickly learns that his selection wasn't random at all), and it even throws a commentary on race into the mix. It's also pretty realistic about the culture of the tech world and Silicon Valley, even though the location of the estate is never mentioned (Norway has never looked more beautiful on film) and Caleb lives on Long Island. And the movie uses all of those aspects to tell a pretty darn good story that doesn't go anywhere I expected. The film is far more feminist than it lets on almost until the credits roll.
[syndicated profile] siderea_lj_feed
Scadians and other culinary historian types: Astonishingly, over on NPR "The Salt", there's an article about the use of spices in the history of Western cuisine which (1) isn't the usual slurry of regurgitated myths about medieval cooking i.e. "rotten meat", (2) is actually very interesting and answers the interesting question "what happened":

How Snobbery Helped Take The Spice Out Of European Cooking

I'm bemused that it's apparently Indian scholars who are now rescuing medieval culinary history from the Westerners.

I have quite a bit to say about this, but it's not getting said today, alas.

from beneath you, it devours

Apr. 20th, 2015 09:01 pm
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[personal profile] metaphortunate
Today I spent two hours trying to de-rat poop the garage and the basement. I now understand something deeply in my soul that I did not truly understand before. I mean, if you had said it to me, I would have agreed, but I didn't know it. And that thing is: whatever you do not clean will be dirty.

God. Think about all the parts of your house that you don't clean. Under the stove. Behind the refrigerator. The cracks in the windowsills. The space under the sink. The gaps where things don't quite meet. The rot under the plywood, the crumbling of the foundations. Think of the dirt collecting there. Think of the silverfish and spider eggs and black mold waiting there to diffuse out into the air you breathe. It turns out we have never mopped the garage floor and as a result parts of it are made out of humus. There were parts so dusty I went to mop them with my 10% bleach solution and it just beaded up and ran off. Waves of spiders ran from me. I didn't even get to it all, because I would have had to move the 50 lbs of old paint cans that the previous owners left us. I am never going to feel clean again, I am never going to feel safe in my house again, and I kind of want to secede from my skin because it's been touching everything around me.

I can't believe a Rabbi wrote this

Apr. 20th, 2015 08:22 pm
sonia: Peacock with tail fully spread (peacock)
[personal profile] sonia
"The higher truth is that our experiences are absolutely fitting for each of us." I thought the Holocaust would prevent any Jew from letting that pass their lips, much less committing it to writing in a "spiritual" book.

I find it personally, viscerally offensive. I can't live in a world where I chose or deserved, at any level, the terrible things that were done to me. Not as part of the Holocaust, but perhaps as a sort of backwash from it, since I was raised by people directly affected by it.

How could a Rabbi say that, one old enough that he might have been alive during the Holocaust? In a chapter about compassion and empathy, no less. Look someone in the eye and say that, someone with a number tattooed on them. Look at a photo of skeletal people rescued from a death camp and say that. Look at someone raped as a child and say that.

I was just writing with my aunt about her aunts and uncles, and she wrote, this one and this one and that one were assassinated in the Holocaust. (In Spanish.) They couldn't possibly have deserved that. Nor did my aunt deserve to grow up without extended family around her.

Sex ed begins at home.

Apr. 20th, 2015 10:41 pm
pinesandmaples: A picture of a mural in Berlin. (art: Berlin)
[personal profile] pinesandmaples
I can’t handle parents who are so anti-sex that their kids can’t masturbate at home in private places (shower, bedroom, bathroom) and end up jerking it in public. I can’t handle parents who refuse sex education and just expect their kids to “get through it.” I can’t handle parents who subject the world to their teeangers because they will subject their teenagers to abuse for things like masturbating.

No. Let your kids have 5 minutes of privacy in their own home. This is an issue that should live in your house, not in public.

Attention, New York City friends!

Apr. 20th, 2015 07:34 pm
sahiya: (Default)
[personal profile] sahiya
I will be in your neck of the woods over Memorial Day Weekend and the week afterward. There should be drinks at the Waystation, where one has to enter a TARDIS and endure being creeped on by a Weeping Angel in order to pee. Also possibly other excursions, of the White Collar and/or hockey variety (depending on whether anyone I care about is still in the running at that point).

Also, I'm still looking for a roommate and/or a place to live. I am charming and so are my cats, I promise. Please keep your ear to the ground.

I suspect that I will probably just end up throwing money at this problem and using, since they are less obnoxious than other brokerage firms and give bonuses based on customer satisfaction, rather than commission. This results in 100% less skeeziness. Truthfully, I don't mind paying a fee for someone to do me a service; I do mind paying a fee for someone to do absolutely nothing, which seems to happen a lot of the time anyway. The apartment I was emailing with someone about this morning had a $4000 brokerage fee attached to it even though the current tenants are finding their own replacements (seriously, wtf). Grand total to get into that place? $13,000.

Yeah, no.

In other news: Hockey! Hawks are up 2-1 in their series, Pens are down 2-1 in theirs. So, you know, about as expected. Also Edmonton won the draft lottery, so Connor McDavid's career is over before it even starts. (Okay, maybe not, but he looked like he wanted to cry, and I don't blame him.)


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