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Saturday, October 18th, 2014 04:55 pm
This is the freebie for the October 2014 Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] ellenmillion. It also fills the "Far Over the Misty Mountains" square in my 9-1-14 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. This poem belongs to the Torn World project.

Read more... )
Saturday, October 18th, 2014 02:05 pm
The good news: by staying on a strict ketogenic diet - < 30 grams of carbohydrate a day - I managed to avoid my worst symptoms for ten days.

The bad news: a side effect of a ketogenic diet can be dry eyes. Imagine waking up with your lids feeling glued to your eyes, and then feeling like your eyes are sandpapered all day - to the point that you have a hard time keeping your eyes open *or* closed. And staring at a computer monitor, checking log files and performance indicators? Forget it! Driving anywhere is a moderate risk - you can probably keep your eyes on the road, but you can't be sure....

I lost as much time to work last week as I ever lost to fatigue. And I was nearly as miserable due to the dry eyes.

So: I did some carb loading yesterday. And my eyes are significantly better today. But I'm also feeling the beginnings of my symptoms returning. Oh, it's not horrible - if this was the worst day ever, I'd be doing pretty good. But experience tells me this is more likely a "good" day.

So: Monday I see an eye doctor. And hopefully, we can do interventions to keep my eyes from injury. And in the beginning of November, I do my four day EEG and hopefully, we find something, and hopefully, we can fix it with something that doesn't dry the ever living (expletive) out of my eyes.
Saturday, October 18th, 2014 04:24 pm
I am backreading old fic in my tags (partly to procrastinate actually finishing any more, partly because I'm thinking about finally putting together an AO3 anthology of scraps too small to go anywhere else, partly because I am masochistically collecting old bunnies I could write the first 1700 words of if I make my October goal**).

And I just want to say that if anybody felt like posting their translation of Oolon Colluphid was Right somewhere I could see it, it would make my weekend. ^_^

(my [community profile] intoabar assignment is Jasper Sitwall & Nita Callahan, which is simultaneously too hard and way too easy)

**Here is my current list of bunnies-I-could-totally-write-the-first-1700-words-of-as-long-as-I-wasn't-obligated-to-finish, if any of you want to egg me on in my challenge <_<

*the AU where Javert becomes a criminal mastermind instead of a cop and recruits Valjean before he meets the bishop
* the Community/Captain America crossover
* the next bit of the Community werewolf AU
* the YA fic where Billy Kaplan is terrified that he's been accidentally turning everyone queer
* the one where Carlos takes Cecil as his date to the Ig-Nobel awards
* the Kirk/Spock/Uhura conduit fic (where Kirk is the conduit)
* the les amis in Omelas au
* the SGA as Gethenians au
* the Avengers Go To A Drag Ball (because if Steve comes out he wants to come out the proper old-fashioned way, by dancing with Sam at a drag ball)
* Valjean in the Ankh-Morpork AU
* pallet/shipping container slash
* Steve Rogers/Betty White
* Stacker Pentecost/Hannibal Chau hate-is-too-strong-a-word!sex
* les amis go to the moon and meet the Lunar Man-Bats
* les amis in Starfleet
* four-year-old baby spy Natasha being trained by the Winter Soldier
* Harry Dresden Sings the Blues
* The Erlking vs. Benton Fraser
* The next bit of the one where Langoustini meets Marcone
* the dS/DW AU where there's only one Ray, but he's a Time Lord
* the Pacific Rim Star Wars AU
* the one where Methos is forced to admit he's Scottish by upbringing, oops
* the one where Methos is forced to admit he's a virgin, oops
* the sequel to the hl/yw fic where Methos and Ed'rashtekaresket are bros
* the one where Marius and Cosette meet Azelma in New Orleans
* the one where les amis are judges in an American election
* the Eroica baseball au
* the one with Klaus and the "machine"
* the one where Adora Belle Dearheart becomes Patrician because the men are all too chickenhearted to do it
* the Lucky Starr AU with magical soulmate wrist tattoos - wait not an AU sorry
* the one where the serum doesn't work and Steve Rogers becomes a Pulitzer-prize winning war cartoonist instead
* the one where Aurora Pontmercy has twelve dead godfathers
* Peter Quill/Dean Winchester, driver picks the music
* the one where hot grown-up Gavroche goes back in time and saves everyone at the barricades
* the one where Bucky writes a book
* the Good Omens Easter story
* the next bit of the epic Night in the Lonesome October sequel
* Valjean and Javert at La Madeleine
* Les Amis start a porn studio (for great justice)
*JARVIS finds a copy of the Wizard's Manual on one of his drives, and has to make a Choice
*Lady Ekaterin Vorkosigan/Admiral Miles Naismith
*The AU where pere Madeleine is Bishop of Digne and Javert is a young priest serving under him
Saturday, October 18th, 2014 01:00 pm
Camille Fournier tweeted about the high-quality writing being produced, for free, by Kathy Sierra, who recently left Twitter because of renewed harassment. One of her examples was "Your app makes me fat", an essay about how poor user interface design, whether through incompetence or exploitative user "engagement", is a drain on users' cognitive resources that has real effects on our lives. The title comes from a study showing evidence that people doing mental work choose to eat more calories: hence, your app makes me fat.

Which is fine as far as it goes, but also makes me think about the reverse. Whether or not your app makes me fat, I can guarantee you that my diet makes me dumb. Thinking about this recently because of this stupid antibiotic blocking me from eating for hours. Let me tell you, when I'm hungry and I'm not eating, my entire brain is thinking about not eating. I'm supposed to be drawing up something, or coordinating different disciplines, or writing some thing up, but am I? Balls I am. I'm thinking about food, and how it's right there, and how I am not eating it. How long till I can eat? Wow, is that familiar. Wow, do I remember this from weight-loss diets I have been on. Wow, is it nice that most of the time in my life now I just notice "Hey, I'm hungry," get a snack, and then blissfully not think about food for a while. That is mental energy that I can spend on my job, my kids, my training that I'm doing, whatever; maybe even an app that I'm trying to learn how to use. And I'll always be happy if that app UI is designed better, but honestly even trying to learn how to use an app is probably a more productive use of mental energy for me than just grimly using that energy to not eat.
Friday, October 17th, 2014 11:16 pm
Dear Writer Person,

We matched! So basically know that I am extremely fond of you already, because clearly you are a person of taste and discernment, loving one of these small fandoms as much as I do.

I am, as always, going to provide you with all the details, because that's what I always hope to get from my recipient. But if that's not you, please tap out of this letter now. Just know that I really, really cannot handle child or animal harm or death, and I love you for volunteering for one of my tiny fandoms. See you on the 25th!

Or, if you want to know more, read on.

Me! )

80 Days, Manussiha )

Retired Basketball Player RPF, Magic Johnson/Larry Bird )

Tour of the Merrimack -- R. M. Meluch, Augustus/John Farragut )
Saturday, October 18th, 2014 12:36 am
The October Crowdfunding Creative Jam is now open on Dreamwidth and on LiveJournal, with a theme of "paradigm shifting without a clutch." Come give us prompts, or claim prompts to make stuff yourself!  [personal profile] dialecticdreamer is offering to write something for each person who leaves prompts.

From My Prompts

"Find You Lost, Keep You Found" is a story by [personal profile] thebonesofferalletters about a brother and sister getting back together after a long separation.

"Saving the World Is Like Driving Stick" by [personal profile] alexconall is a microfic about activism. So very true!

"Clutching at the Future" by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer is an adorable family ficlet, set in Polychrome Heroics although it's not obvious from just this snippet.  ALL THE FEELS.

"Changing to Light and Smoke" by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer is a creeptastic story about environmental apocalypse.

What I Have Written

"Paradigm Shifting Without a Clutch"
A Polychrome Heroics poem about gaining a very disturbing superpower.
70 lines, Buy It Now = $35

"Believing What You Know Ain't So" 
From this I got the free-verse poem "Believing What You Know Ain't So." While working a summer job at the Tef, Eric and TeJay discover that some of the ideas they got from their respective families aren't as accurate as they used to think.
69 lines, Buy It Now = $34.50

"Over the Misty Mountains"
This session's freebie is about when the barrier falls between Slunai territory and the Lichenwold in Torn World.

"The Sounds You Can't Unhear"
This inspired the free-verse poem "The Sounds You Can't Unhear," which is a direct sequel to "A Voice from Beyond." Seth thinks about the jumbled sounds of Noc's speech and the challenges of human-cetacean relations. It's sad, but hopeful, and it very much focuses on paradigm shifts caused by hearing things that suddenly make a lot more sense than they used to.
58 lines, Buy It Now = $20

"Dr. Doohickey and the Smile Machine"
Backchannel prompt from [personal profile] chordatesrock inspired the free-verse poem "Dr. Doohickey and the Smile Machine." Therapy doesn't work for everyone, but everyone needs coping skills to deal with paradigm shifts. Some people just like to build their own.
71 lines, Buy It Now = $35.50

Other Awesome Entries

"Spinward" by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer is a story about a positive relationship between human and AI.  Some relationships don't fit neatly into boxes.

"She Called Me Mel" by [personal profile] mdlbear is a gorgeous ace love story, matched with a filk song.  Bring kleenex though, it's a bit of a tearjerker.

"Culture Shock" by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer is another Polychrome Heroics piece, mainly visible in construction workers doing the opposite of what's expected.  I love this fic; a surprise is something you didn't know you wanted until you got it.
Saturday, October 18th, 2014 02:01 pm
I unpacked my suitcase for the first time in six months yesterday and it was awesome.

Yes, I'm back in Japan, this time for what passes for good in my world, namely just under a year. I got in without any problems worth mentioning on Thursday, except that we'd been delayed an hour in Seattle, so by the time I got in it was too late to get to the housing office to get the key to my apartment before it closed, so I used my handy-dandy portable wifi hotspot, which I decided to rent instead of going through the cell phone malarkey (more of that anon) to book a night at an airport hotel, breakfast included, for ¥10,000. It wasn't even the best deal I could have gotten, but it was pretty darn good, particularly since the exchange rate is now favorable to those of us getting paid in dollars, but it's so nice to have the resources to solve at least some problems with money.

On Friday morning I headed back to Komaba and got my apartment--it's so large! And by "large" I mean "25.2 m^2", but for one person, that is pretty ginormous, and it comes with all appliances, and I was able to rent bedding on the spot (it's quite overpriced, but I'd rather pay ¥18,000 for bedding for ten months than have to a) buy my own and then b) get rid of it frantically at the end of my stay. I'm willing to do a lot to avoid dealing with the trash laws in Japan). I think the building also has insulation, which is pretty amazing. There are trees outside my balcony and I have a direct view to Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Tower, which is basically all you can ask for in Tokyo. The building internet appears to be a joke for which they are charging ¥14,000 a month, but this is the other virtue of the wifi hotspot. Even with all that, my rent is less than $800 a month, which is just ridiculous.

Meanwhile it's autumn, and it's been four years since I've done autumn, and it's…going to take some readjustment. I love autumn, but autumn in Japan also makes me miss Kyoto. Part of the reason I miss Kyoto right now, I admit, is because I know where everything is after having lived there for more than a year, whereas I need to go on a quest to find a grocery store nearby as soon as Kuroneko delivers my other two suitcases this afternoon. This too shall pass, but I do want to get back to Kyoto as soon as possible.

I'm already worried about making a schedule to get work done, which I think is good; I'm going to Australia in a week and a half, however, which means that I'm just going to focus on administrative stuff for the next week rather than trying to frantically do too much. Australia should give me a good chance to focus on my dissertation and be re-energized for it, which is also good. In the meantime, I get to unpack MORE suitcases! Too bad there aren't any shelves in the closet…
Friday, October 17th, 2014 09:56 pm
Part 2 went up today, which includes the gentleman with the thistle-down hair, 19th c. mansplaining, and my attempting art history without a license.

I keep forgetting to post about it, because Friday nights, but: look for it on Friday mornings.

(Please take substantive comment there, thanks.)
Friday, October 17th, 2014 05:28 pm
I had a really shitty day today but then I watched The Flash! And it didn't exactly make a shitty day less shitty, but it did make me smile, and it also made me teary. Okay, show, you got me.

spoilers )

Person of Interest was also interesting this week because spoilers )
Friday, October 17th, 2014 01:46 pm
Thanks to a donation from [personal profile] rix_scaedu, there are 9 new verses in "The Lotus Warriors."  The invasion begins!  The resistance begins!  And promptly goes splat.  Clearly something will have to be done about this.
Friday, October 17th, 2014 12:39 am
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," and "Up the Water Spout."

Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Bucky Barnes, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanova, Phil Coulson, Betty Ross, Clint Barton, Tony Stark, JARVIS, Bruce Banner
Medium: Poetry
Warnings: Past imprisonment, torture, experimentation. PTSD. Flashbacks. Dissociation. Cyclic amnesia. Temporal trauma. Broken people. Internalized oppression. Low sense of self-worth. Self-destructive behavior. Shame. Depression. Suicidal ideation. Physical and emotional whump.
Summary: Bucky experiences life in fragments as his memory cycles through past and present.
Notes: Hurt/Comfort. Mercy. Freedom. Good and evil. Family of choice. Team as family. Trauma and recovery. Healing. Friendship. Love. Nonsexual intimacy. No sex. Trust. Memory. Artificial intelligence. Safety and security. Competence. #coulsonlives

This story spans many different times in Bucky's life. It also fills the "amnesia" square in my 6-10-14 card for the [community profile] hc_bingo fest. I know that this audience prefers to read poems all at once, but this one runs over 3,000 words so I'm going to break it into three parts to avoid the risk of hangfiring the blogware. If you want to read it all at once, just wait until the third part goes up.

A note on feedback: While it's not necessary to comment on every post I make, remember that I don't know who reads/likes things if nobody says anything. Particularly on long stories, I've discovered that I get antsy if there's nothing but crickets chirping for several posts. So it helps to give me feedback at least once, even if it's just "I like this" or "This one doesn't grab me." First and last episodes are ideal if you rarely feel inspired to comment in the middle.

Anonymous commenters: You don't have to specify exactly who you are, but it helps to have a first name or a username from some other service, so I have some idea of who's saying which and how many different "Anonymous" folks there are. You can just type some kind of identifier at the end of your comment.

(Also the perk story "Brotherlove, Brotherlust" is still open for audience activity to reveal new material; see Part 1 and Part 2.)

Read more... )
Thursday, October 16th, 2014 10:47 pm
Thanks to a donation from LJ user Westrider, there are 14 new verses in "Climbing Rocks."  Brenda and Darrel debate alternate methods of fighting the rock monster since the obvious ones did not work.
Thursday, October 16th, 2014 05:33 pm
Yay! With the one I finished earlier in the week than still needs some revisions, that means I got two more done in time to sign up for [community profile] intoabar. (Okay only because intoabar extended its signup deadline, but still. :P) So here is story #3:

Ricochet (2361 words) by melannen

Fandom: Captain America (Movies)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: James "Bucky" Barnes/Captain America's Shield
Characters: James "Bucky" Barnes, Steve Rogers, Maria Hill, Natasha Romanov
Additional Tags: frisbee, Captain America's shield - Freeform, Post-Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The Famous National Mall Frisbee Game of 2014

Hurrah for finishing things!

(I'd say it's weird to post in a massively large fandom again and get so many kudos so fast, except...I'm pretty sure I can get used to that again prettyyy darn quick.)
Thursday, October 16th, 2014 09:35 am
Dear Carolyn:

Since the holidays are approaching again: I have a brother who will give some nieces and nephews gifts in front of those he is currently trying to snub. The nieces and nephews are as young as 2 and up to 20-plus.

It's not as if money is an issue, or not having time to give gifts to those he wishes before the rest of the family arrives. He does this deliberately.

We are all past the stage of doing anything to change his obnoxious behavior, but what should be the reactions of the parents? In the past, if my children received gifts in front of those who didn't, we politely refused them.

This brother is an obnoxious, racist boor, yet one sister and brother insist on inviting him.

Sometimes he has made a point of inviting them all out to "help" him at his car, and then giving gifts to just a couple of kids while asking the others, "What do you think of that? Pretty nice huh?"

-- C.

When someone's bad behavior is that cartoonish, that jaw-dropping, that hard for even your more typical vindictive person to comprehend, the bad actor stops being the main problem. The people who allow it to happen, year after year, to children as young as 2, become the real story.

You're asking me a question you have already answered: The way the parents "should" react is to refuse the gifts politely. They do this knowing it will reduce the youngest children to teary rubble, shouldering the responsibility of explaining why it had to be done.

Eventually, as their kids get older, the parents "should" teach them the importance of not granting any leeway to such hostility -- and that's exactly what this random-rewards, annual holiday mind-suckering is: the uncle's hostility (with a side of attention-seeking).

Not only is it the parents' collective responsibility to ensure that not one of this uncle's selective gifts is accepted, but it's also incumbent upon the older nieces and nephews to speak politely for all of them in one voice: Take your ... whatever it is, elsewhere.

That this apparently hasn't happened is a hint that your brother isn't an antisocial outlier, but instead just an extreme manifestation of general family dysfunction. If indeed that's the case, then your original answer -- refuse those gifts -- is the entire answer.

You simply represent your own family as your conscience demands. You can't make your other siblings grasp that not only is this brother behaving awfully, but they also are complicit for offering up their kids' feelings for him to toy with, year after year.

That doesn't mean you can't say something if you haven't already -- you can, and owe it to all the kids to do so. Best to pose it as a question and not an accusation, though: "Wouldn't it send Brother a message, and our kids, if we all refused his selective gifts?"

Their response will be the second part of my response, in that your brother's ... eccentricity will be a window into your extended family.

I suspect, though, just by your asking a question you answered yourself long ago, that you already know what you'll see. The question then becomes, is the dysfunction contained enough to brush off, or corrosive enough to avoid?

Thursday, October 16th, 2014 03:54 am
Here's an article about writing aliens who are really alien and not just funny-looking humans.  There are some good ideas.  But then there is this mistake which people keep making ...

This is a related argument to the issue that if someone creates a “real” alien, it might be so far off from what human minds can comprehend that no reader or viewer could get into the story.

*headdesk*  Do you have a cat?  A dog?  They are nonhuman, think very differently from us, yet most people have lived with one or the other.  Consider our interactions with horses, pigs, ferrets, elephants, dolphins, parrots, etc.  These are all animals we interact with.  We play with them, train them, talk with them, eat them, ride them, occasionally even have sexual contact.  My bet is that if we meet aliens, we're going to respond very much the same way: Can I eat it?  Fuck it?  Wear it?  Play with it?  Train it to work for me?  Experiment on it?  Decorate my house with it?  Will it want to do any of those things to me?

This is why I often use animals as inspiration for an alien race.  It gives me a basis of plausible biology to start with, and that suggests some things about its culture, how it might interact with people.  The aliens won't think like humans, but will think as sapient beings.  And humans will go right on being humans, the way we deal with the nonhumans we already know.

Another thing I do is bring in bits of far-flung human cultures, ones that many readers will be less familiar with than their local culture.  That's because other humans are usually weirder than so-called alien characters.  They have little quirks like Korean culture considering plans to be dangerous, or many Native American tribes counting a third (or more) gender, or the Canary Islands whistle-language Silbo Gomero.  So make sure you at least out-weird other humans.

One of my favorite, most-alien characters is Alakazam by M.C.A. Hogarth.  Imagine an empathic, fluffy person the size of a basketball who does not speak but does emote in helpful, usually pleasant ways and expresses preferences for certain people's company.  Sort of like a pet, but always with a sense of being deeper, more nuanced, and ineffably mysterious.  You don't have to understand it to like  it.
Thursday, October 16th, 2014 05:23 am
Overheard while walking by a poetry reading:

"My first six poems or so are about my childhood."

... I am having trouble imagining the poems in the error bar.
Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 09:30 pm
Remember the old Spirograph? It was one of my favorite toys.  :D  Inspirograph is an online version. Bend over and kiss your time goodbye!