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Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 01:02 pm
Right now there's a rash of church burnings that targets all or mostly black congregations. There are things people can do to oppose that ...

Read more... )
Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 07:46 pm

Oh the ongoing appalling saga of wifi at O'Hare - due to the extreme mankiness of the website and the very unreliable nature of the connection, I appear to have paid 3 times for the same hour of really random internet connection. Grrrrr.

The flight was pretty much okay as flights go: because the lady in the seat next to me was having some kind of health crisis (and had several friends + various flight attendants on the case, so I felt that to intervene would be just intrusive), the flight attendant asked if I would be willing to move to another seat so lady in question could lie down.

Okay by me, especially as this was a move up to World Traveller Plus; the downside, however, being twits on both sides of the section leaving their window blinds up, so just as I was settling into some shuteye, dawn came up like thunder.

Presumably because I checked my bag incredibly early, it was pretty much the last one of the flight off the carousel, sigh.

However, there is now free wifi on the Heathrow Express, yay, 21st Century!

The other bit of news chez oursin, however, is that when I tried to ring partner at home from O'Hare, no reply. I later, like, just at the moment when I was going through security, got a call from his mobile (which in the circs I couldn't take), which struck me as a bit ominous, but it took quite a lot of failed calls and difficulties to finally converse and for me to find that partner had just gone into hospital for a minor, if unpleasant and rather embarrassing, condition that had suddenly arisen, and was being kept in overnight (last night).

And today the news is that he's being kept in another night at least. I walked up to the hospital (it is at least the nearest one, the downside to that being it's not that easy to get to, especially with our tube station out of commission) with various bits and bobs that he needed, in the horrible humid heat, to a hospital in which, once one starts penetrating to the wards, one realises that the airport terminal air of the very new bits exists on a substructure of workhouse infirmary and later developments and the whole thing Makes No Sense.

I have also unpacked, done two loads of washing, made bread, phoned the Aged Parent, and done various bits of outstanding personal financial administration (y o y would a major bank not have a contact number on their website for the department to speak to when they have put a block on one's card for a suspected dodgy transaction??? enquiring minds &C).

However, you know what's really, really good? Not having to go into work.

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 06:09 pm

Posted by s.e. smith

Oh June. Let’s talk about June. Here are some things that characterised the month of June:

1) Hot. The last few days have been well-nigh unbearable, at least by coastal Northern California standards. There’s no way these temperatures are acceptable under any circumstances unless one is lounging on the bank of a river eating cherries and getting ready to jump in for a swim.

2) Dry. Okay, sure, it spat over the weekend, but that was about it. Other than that, it was dry as a bone. Even the grass is so dry that it’s turning crumbly under my feet, with whole sections of the yard looking like dirt farms because the grass has just given up. It’s so dry I feel like I’m turning into something out of Mad Max: Fury Road. Which wouldn’t be a problem if that thing was Furiosa, honestly.

3) Exhausted. Unrelated to the garden, except tangentially in that I haven’t been able to do much work. Between getting back from Japan, racing to Wisconsin and New York for conferences, and being sick, I have spent the month very, very tired. Note to self: Don’t do Wiscon and BEA back to back EVER AGAIN.

But some things happened in the garden anyway, defying all odds, so let’s take a look.

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Irises, Douglas and otherwise, were going full tilt in the early part of the month. I love a good iris. There are also a bunch blooming in the woods behind the house, which are flush with rhodies at other times of the year.

Instagram Photo

The purple theme continues…

Instagram Photo

And yes, there’s pink too, in the form of this succulent that apparently thrives on neglect and ridiculous heat.

Instagram Photo

Finally, the buckeye, which continues to prove that despite all claims to the contrary, buckeyes can live just fine on the coast:

Instagram Photo

Finally, a note of business: A number of people have written to me about text being cut off in the far right margin on posts. I can’t replicate the error, but reloading it seems to fix the problem, and people have also mentioned that it might be a browser extension conflict because when they turn extensions off, it goes away. I know that this is super annoying, and if someone with WordPress experience has ideas for a fix that aren’t ‘reload’ or ‘turn off your browser extensions,’ I’m open to hearing them.

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 05:37 pm

What if Dr Seuss had written Hamlet?

The sun did not shine.
There were clouds overhead.
I sat in the castle
And wished I was dead.
My father had perished.
My dad lost his life.
My uncle usurped him
And married his wife!
An action more evil
Than man should commit.
And I did not like it!
Not even one bit!

My mother, the queen,
And her husband, her kin,
They knocked on the door.
They said “May we come in?”
They opened the door
Of the room where I sat.
And they said to me,
“Why do you sit there like that?
Did you know derrières
Are a bit like your dad?
For everyone’s got one.
(Or everyone had.)
You cried for a night
When he died without warning.
But you can have lots
of good fun in the morning!
There’s plenty of fathers!
They’re twenty a dime!
They don’t last forever.
They die all the time!
So stop going round
In a suit of black cloth.
You’re sure to be sad
If you dress like a goth.
Don’t run off to college.
Just chill for a while.
Now I’m your new father.
So give us a smile!”

And then I was sadder
Than ever I’ve felt.
My body’s alive
But I wished it would melt.
My mum, like a beast,
With my uncle was lying,
In less than a month
From her mourning and crying.
They jumped into bed
While her tears were undried,
And I wished that the Lord
Would allow suicide.

My friends came to tell me,
“Come quickly! Come down!
We’ve seen on the ramparts
It gave us a fright
Like we never have had!
It shines in the dark!
And it looks like your dad!”

I went to the ramparts
High over the town.
I looked! And I saw him!
The GHOST in the CROWN!

He said, “Listen closely,
For everyone’s sake!
They said I was killed
By a venomous snake.
My bruv did the deed!
Not a serpent that hisses!
He wants to be king
And to sleep with my missus!
Tell your uncle from me
He’s a murdering swine!
Or your haircut will look
Like a mad porcupine!”

I’ll be posting these over the next few days, one for each of the five acts of Hamlet. When I’m done I’ll work on some illustrations. Feedback and sharing are very welcome.
Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 05:14 pm

Congratulations to everyone who attempted the June challenge! I hope to go through everything and make a roundup post within the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 07:00 am
 to [personal profile] marykay  (and an email recipient of good tidings!)!  Glorious and joyful day!
Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 07:47 am
Happy birthday,[personal profile] marykay/[livejournal.com profile] marykaykare!
Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 05:49 am

I am somewhat concerned when a week goes by without a visit from Miss A-. However, I have the delightful news that Mr F- will be coming to Town very shortly. He writes that things have been unusual busy at the works, where they are expanding the premises while also endeavoring to fulfil many existing orders, and this, on top of the children being ill, has required much attention from him and Mrs F-, but there are now matters that urgently demand his presence. He is most delighted to hear of Mr S-'s interest in the canal, for Mr S- is one that can look at a landscape and say, not there but there will best answer the purpose.

It seems altogether too long since I had the pleasure of Mr F-'s company. Nonetheless, I am still a little bothered by Miss A-'s silence.

I am not particularly gifted with the needle, but sometimes I find it soothing to essay a little embroidery. I am stitching away at a pleasing design when Hector comes in to say that there is a heavily veil'd lady that desires to call on me at the door. I raise my eyebrows, but ask him to admit this stranger and give me out not at home to other callers.

I am not sure who I expected as my mysterious caller, but the tallness of the veil'd figure announces to me who my visitor is. I desire Hector to ask Seraphine to bring us tea with the best china, and once he has gone sweep into my best curtesy. Your ladyship. I gesture her into a chair.

She puts aside the veil. You must be surprised to see me here.

I raise my eyebrows. Well, it is certainly not usual for ladies of your station to call on ladies of mine, especially when I have it on good authority that I am considered by you a designing harpy and a conniving trollop. Really, I have no intention of interfering with His Grace's matrimonial plans. I know the ways of the world and that he is requir'd to marry in his position, and he sounds to have found an excellent lady. If you desire him to give me up, I think you should address yourself to him.

Oh, this does not concern my brother, she says, putting across her veil again as Seraphine and Euphemia come in to set the tea-table. I see that besides the best china and tea Seraphine has produced a lavish spread of delicacies.

Once they have gone and I have poured tea, she puts her veil aside again, sighs deeply and says it seems she has misjudged me. She had suppos'd her brother, that is now the head of their house, was but an impressionable boy, and it is but lately that she has had the fuller tale of how I rescued him from his youthful follies and set him on a better course.

I also suppos'd Miss A- to be one that was under the influence of an older woman; and perhaps I was a little jealous of her tendresse towards you -

What! say I, Miss A- may look up to me a little as one that has the benefits of experience, but surely she does not think of me in the terms you describe. I have seen her look at you, says Lady J-, and quite apart from that, we have bitterly quarreled since that encounter in her dressing-room. She calls me cruel and harsh in my judgements and blinded by the arrogance of rank to true worth.

Miss A-, I remark, has sure played in some very sentimental dramas and we see the effect. But I have heard nothing from her, that is usually in and out every few days, since then.

I may, admits Lady J-, have made some insinuations concerning the relations between the two of you. It was very ill-bred of me, but I was angry, and, why should I not reveal to you for you have surely guessed, most desperate in love with her.

That I had suppos'd, and, I continue, it has seemed to me that she has a strong inclination to you, but could not quite believe that one of your exalted station, and one that is known to have had a great devotion to the late Miss B-, would incline to her.

Lady J- wrings her hands. I did not think that I could ever find one that might be to me as she was, for we thought ourselves quite unique in the feelings we had for one another; but now I know that there are other women of our inclination -

The term is Sapphick disposition, say I, from the Greek poet -

She gives me a very strange look; and also that I can feel that same ardour towards another and have it returned. But since our quarrel...

O, the silly child will come round, I say.

But if she does, cries Lady J-, then what? I do not desire to deprive the world of her talent, it is nothing like the case 'twixt myself and my dear cousin, how are these matters managed?

Why, Lady J-, I say, were you His Grace's brother rather than his sister, you would make an offer to set her up in some pretty lodging, with a servant or two, where you could discreetly call on her. You would present her with some fine jewellery. Miss A-'s situation is not the same as mine, for she makes a good living as an acclaimed actress, yet the theatre is a precarious profession.

I should never wish to see her in want, says Lady J-. But how do I reconcile with her?

A present of fine jewels, with a note expressing humble apology, is a great softener of the feelings, says I.

Do you think her thus mercenary?

Miss A-? Not in the least, or she would already be set up with some rich fellow. But a token of appreciation is ever welcome.

Well, says Lady J- with the smallest possible smile, as you are so known for your wise counsel I daresay I should take your advice. She absentmindedly picks up one of Seraphine's little cakes and nibbles on it. She then looks up and says, do I hear singing? Yes, I say, it is Mr G- D- that gives a lesson to our household boy, that seems to manifest some talent.

She raises her eyebrows. I see that I did not realize the half when being told that you and your establishment were quite out of the common way.

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 11:28 am
- Weather: my favourite subject! My home reached 23C at 9am this morning and will probably be at least 25C tonight and, no, I don't have any form of air conditioning because British, obv. It'll be hotter than that outside but I don't have to go out today, yay, and the forecast is predicting cooler weather tomorrow. I plan to use the might of the angry Sun Goddess to kill the ice monster that has invaded and occupied my fridge-freezer. The tiny ice giant will be powerless against the onslaught... except in as far as it seems to have the power to pool on my cheap and easily damaged laminate kitchen floor despite my best efforts with bowls and towels &c. BAH! In other news, my water company managed to schedule turning off our water for seven hours on the hottest night of the year so far, lol. Still, at least it was a planned stoppage and they warned us in advance. ::wryface::

- Raveningham Hall (aka Ravi), built 1944, is a Modified Hall Class loco, which means she has a larger superheater than the original Hall Class locos, such as Kinlet Hall (built 1929), and this results in ENTHUSIASTIC ENGINE SOUNDS and VOLCANIC CLOUDS OF STEAM, which is all a bit unnecessary if we're being honest. Note in case you're wondering: Kinlet Hall sounds asymmetrical like a heartbeat, while the Odney Manor (built 1950) doesn't seem to feel the need to indulge in heavy breathing while exercising. I couldn't decide which of the first two image crops I preferred so, again, I decided to let you and flickr tell me. :-)

R2 Raveningham Hall, 6960, Williton, West Somerset Railway 06-15

Three more small images. )

R5 Raveningham Hall, 6960, Stogumber, West Somerset Railway 06-15
Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 04:43 am
Here is my card for Winter Fest in July.  Bingo will run from July 1st through July 31.  This month we will be celebrating all winter holidays.  (See all my 2015 bingo cards.)

If you'd like to sponsor a particular square, especially if you have an idea for what character, series, or situation it would fit -- talk to me and we'll work something out.  I've had a few requests for this and the results have been awesome so far.  This is a good opportunity for those of you with favorites that don't always mesh well with the themes of my monthly projects. I may still post some of the fills for free, because I'm using this to attract new readers; but if it brings in money, that means I can do more of it. That's part of why I'm crossing some of the bingo prompts with other projects, such as the Poetry Fishbowl.

Underlined prompts have been filled.

Winter Fest in July Bingo Card

Shoveling snowSnow globesCandyHat / Mittens / ScarvesFeliz Navidad
Winter SolsticeBoxing Day - December 26FeastAll I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front TeethInternational Day of Persons with Disabilities - December 3
Maoz TzurYule LogWILD CARDSilver and GoldRosa Parks Day - December 1
DovesChristmasFrankincense / MyrrhHolly / IvyRudolph
La BefanaCarolingJack FrostYes Virginia There Is a Santa ClausBaking / Cooking

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 10:09 am
I was watching the BBC coverage of the Hampton Court Flower Show last night and was amused that they were encouraging people to Tweet them pictures with the hashtag #bbcmyhampton. Apparently the BBC are still as clueless about rhyming slang as they were when the Goons were around.
Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 03:22 am
Here's a thoughtful article about pricing your crafts.  

I typically look at time + materials for crafts.  With services, I look at time and compare with what other people are charging. I've done simple mending at an hourly rate, because it just isn't that difficult.  Sewing from patterns I charge a bit more for, and I've done at least one pattern that I decided was too fussy to do again.  But basic skirts?  Still pretty easy.  

I pay a lot of attention to difficulty and time.  With poetry, I can afford to sell it relatively cheap because I write it fast.  I'm still making better money than I would from most magazines, because poetry in the mainstream pays shit wages.  You can get a poem from me for less than a paper book -- smaller product, but based on your prompt or maybe you just picked something you liked from a thumbnail.  Writing fiction takes longer, so I tend to charge more.  Editing is mostly charging what I can get, not what I'm worth.  The only place I make an hourly rate suited to my experience level is poetry.
Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 07:37 am
As people may be aware, last October Samaritans managed to accidentally-on-purpose put 1.9 million people under crowd-sourced online surveillance (much of it by Latin American-based sex-bot hotlines, so far as I could tell from the accounts who were tweeting that bloody inane "I turned my social net into a safety net" slogan), pretty much destroyed their brand credibility, launched thousands of column inches from practically every lawyer in the country with an interest in digital security and came perilously close to getting thoroughly squished by the Information Commissioner . In fact, if the Court of Appeal had decided Google v. Vidal-Hall & ors at the date of Samaritans Radar, so leaving the door open for distress-only lawsuits in respect of illegal processing, Samaritans would have been vulnerable to civil damages claims to boot.

Text of ICO response to Samaritans Radar thanks to Jon Baines' FOI request and tireless investigative journalism behind cut )

Anyway, basically the ICO told Samaritans to for fuck's sake do some research before making digital tits of themselves again.

In pursuance of which aim (allegedly) Samaritans held a live webchat yesterday (I missed it, being in a meeting) under the hashtag #DigitalFutures. From the questions posed, it appears they have learnt the arse end of bugger all from the events of last October/November.

Here are the questions:

samaritans: 1.When looking for support online, do you ALWAYS want to be anonymous and Why? #DigitalFutures

samaritans: 2.Is confidentiality as important for online support as it is offline? #DigitalFutures

samaritans: 3.What could make finding useful support online easier for someone when they are feeling down? #DigitalFutures

samaritans: 4.Are there ways you think support and advice could be provided to people via social media? #DigitalFutures

samaritans: 5.What should happen to websites that contain triggering or harmful content? #DigitalFutures

samaritans: 6.What could be useful online to better support people who want to help their friends that are struggling to cope? #DigitalFutures

samaritans: 7. How does support through the internet differ for you from face to face or over the phone contact? #DigitalFutures

samaritans: 10.What is the single most important thing you would like to see Samaritans do in the online environment? #DigitalFutures**

samaritans: 11. Who should respond when someone expresses online that they are struggling to cope? (Friends/ family/ strangers?) #DigitalFutures

I am, predictably, horrified most by question 5*** which implies that Samaritans, having had their taste of mass surveillance last year, want to move into censorship this year.

Joe Ferns, the Executive Director of Policy, Research and Development at Samaritans and so the officer of Samaritans responsible for being the public face of Samaritans Radar, who creepily followed my @legionseagle Twitter account while I was in the middle of tweeting very anti-Radar material, was predictably unabashed that he appeared to be calling for such "triggering" (ie anti-Samaritans' party line) sites shut down. In answer to the point by @MLBrook that sites containing legal content he disapproved of "should be allowed to continue to exist" his response was immediately to conflate the word "triggering" with "inciting" in a classic "War on Terror" manoeuvre:

Ferns_Joe: @MLBrook can you say a bit more about why? Would you want to influence news sites who breach guidelines on reporting MH / suicide?

Ferns_Joe: @JonMendel @MLBrook yep. But i wonder is there a question of intent? I.e where content is deliberately harmful or facilitates an attempt?

That is, we have the officer of an organisation which was directly responsible for illegal processing of sensitive personal data of vulnerable individuals wanting to have the right to shut down the competition.

I shall never donate a penny to Samaritans and there is no way on earth I would ever call or contact them, no matter how dire my personal circumstances. But I do wonder if I ought to do more. It seems to me suggestive and sinister that an organisation subject to intense (and, as the ICO outcome proved) entirely justified online criticism about the civil liberties aspects of one of its proposals should be apparently feeling its way towards having some sort of power to close down online material. I think, if I get time this weekend (we're off to London for the stepson's graduation show) I might write a letter to my MP.

* They used to be called Jam. They are now apparently called "Deep Focus" and one of their "triumphs" as per their website is a campaign called "We Got The World To Feel Their Nuts". During the Radar controversy individuals connected with the agency distinguishing themselves by popping up continuously on Twitter, not disclosing their interest and making fun of the depressed and disabled.'Nuff said, except I'm backing Jessica Hyndes to play them in the film.

** No, I got nothing about what happened to questions 8 and 9, either.

*** In the light of Samaritans Radar, I'm not entirely happy about the implications from questions 1 & 2 that only silly-billies want online anonymity, either
Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 01:27 am
"Coda" is a beautiful short film about a lost soul and Death. 

The story, of course, is familiar to me.  People die and think they're not done yet so they wander off and/or drag their feet, then somebody has to trundle along behind to find them.

So I noticed a lot of other lovely little details.  The crowd scenes have women and people of color.  Yay!  The delicate use of light and shadow.  Outlines of leaves.  The exquisite control of Death's cloak.  <3
Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 01:05 am
 You can now buy a molecule quilt of your very own.  And gosh, part of the background development is Mathematica, a program my mother helped create!  These are ridiculously bargain prices for a quilt, too, and the standard size will fit a queen or king bed.  If you are into technomagic, note that molecules DO things, so these quilts make a terrific base for charm magic.
Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 12:53 am
This article explores what happens when two emotions mix.  A key benefit of the movie Inside Out is that it encourage people to think and talk about feelings!  So. Much. Win.
Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 11:00 pm
"Coming in from the Cold" is the next big piece in its series, dealing with Bucky and his continued issues with that piece-of-crap prosthesis. I'm posting each day within the story as a section unto itself, broken down into post-sized parts.

This story belongs to the series Love Is For Children which includes "Love Is for Children," "Hairpins," "Blended," "Am I Not," "Eggshells," "Dolls and Guys,""Saudades," "Querencia," "Turnabout Is Fair Play," "Touching Moments," "Splash," "Coming Around," "Birthday Girl," "No Winter Lasts Forever," "Hide and Seek," "Kernel Error," "Happy Hour," "Green Eggs and Hulk,""kintsukuroi," "Little and Broken, but Still Good," "Up the Water Spout," "The Life of the Dead," "If They Could Just Stay Little," "Anahata," "Coming in from the Cold: Saturday: Building Towers," and "Coming in from the Cold: Sunday: Shaking Foundations."

Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Phil Coulson, Bruce Banner, Betty Ross, Bucky Barnes, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanova, Tony Stark, Clint Barton, Happy Hogan.
Medium: Fiction
Warnings: Mention of past trauma with lingering symptoms of PTSD. Kitchen fail. Tony being a brat. Description of past deaths. Current environment is supportive.
Summary: The Avengers celebrate Memorial Day by going to Washington, D.C. for the festivities. Emotional roller-coasters ensue.
Notes: Hurt/comfort. Family. Fluff and angst. Emotional overload. Coping skills. Healthy touch. Asking for help and getting it. Cooking. Comfort food. Holidays. Medals. Veteran issues. Nonsexual intimacy. Caregiving. Competence. Gentleness. Trust. Emotional confusion. Hope. Crowds. Memorials. Mourning. Letting go. Moving on. Photography. Parades. Storytelling. Nostalgia. Hand-feeding. #coulsonlives

Begin with Part 1, Part 2.

Read more... )
Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 10:28 pm
My friend Beth was in my dream last night. we were spies. it was pride week in London and we were in full leather and discussing its cultural meanings. I could walk during most of that and then suddenly things shifted and i remembered I had a wheelchair and then i was in it for the rest of the dream and wondered how I could have walked so far in my spying job! We said wry things and slinked around. Things were very industrial.
Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 10:22 pm

I liked Rebecca Solnit's article that spawned the term "mansplain." Here she has written an op-ed titled "A letter to my dismal allies on the US left." In this post she unfortunately uses the same sort of language and phraseology ("Leftists explain things to me") to punch in the other direction and complain about people she calls "radical leftists" whom she claims are full of "bitterness and negativity."

I don't like it at all, largely because of the "us and them" dichotomy she sets up. "Please, radical leftists, spare us the bitterness and negativity; we need hope and incremental victories and you provide neither." So who is "us"? I can only assume she means people who are more mainstream than "radical leftists." So, it's a person who is closer to the majority viewpoint dressing down people who are farther away from it. That reminds me of Christians who complain that they are oppressed because people greet them with something other than Merry Christmas during the holidays.

If she were talking about people who approach the world using a negative mindset and admitted they exist in every pocket of the political spectrum, I wouldn't mind it so much. She doesn't like complainers, fine.

If she were talking about a conversational pattern where person 1 says "Such and such is good" and person 2 says "yabbut such and such is bad," and she didn't irrevocably tie it to a particular corner of the political spectrum, I wouldn't mind, because when that pattern dominates a conversation it can shut things down.

If she were talking only about people's behavior when they are playing a role as activist, she has a point: negativity can be a bad strategy and inviting positive dialogue with people who don't completely share your views is one way of practicing activism.

But she isn't complaining about people in their roles as activists. She's complaining about any situation where she mentions something positive that a politician did and someone replies by saying they did bad stuff. She complains about how people converse at dinner parties, and presumably she doesn't mean political planning meetings. So she comes across as insisting that if you're left of Democrats and interacting with people more moderate than you in any way, you don't ever get to mention anything politically negative to them. That sounds like bright-siding to me. (A word made popular by Barbara Ehrenreich in Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America.)

She then proceeds to give seriously embarassing straw man examples: "Can you imagine how far the civil rights movement would have gotten, had it been run entirely by complainers for whom nothing was ever good enough?" Does she have any idea how old that cliche that is? Does she have any idea of the huge variety of viewpoints and actions that made up the civil rights movement in the 60s and 70s? She's white, but she is a writer and the same age as me, she should at least have read one book about it or watched Malcolm X or something.