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|Sunday, July 26th, 2015|
Last weekend, spouse and I went to see "Mr. Holmes," the new Ian McKellen movie. First impressions: 1) it was excellently done. Excellent acting, scripting, and directing. 2) It was hard to watch in spots, as my mom (who is just before turning 80) is having serious memory issues--Holmes' similar issues struck rather close to home. 3) Did I mention the direction was excellent? I may be reading more into it than the creator(s) intended, but it seemed to me to be a very tightly crafted film, with many small and subtle elements combining to give greater emotional weight and resonance to the larger themes. I'll try to write more about that later. For now, highly recommended.
|Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015|
|Friday, January 2nd, 2015|
Today is my 55th birthday. All in all, I'm not in too bad a shape, though if anyone knows a good place to trade in spines, knees, elbows, and shoulders drop me a line, OK? Spouse very kindly baked me a sour cream/poppy seed layer cake. It's in the oven now, and will eventually be decorated with lemon curd (not really decorated, as such--more like filled with) and iced with almond cream-cheese frosting. The amusing part, though, is that even though I am well into middle age I still was very happy when spouse gave me the beater and the bowl from the cake. I will be even happier when I get the beater and the bowl from the frosting, though.
|Sunday, May 25th, 2014|
|WisCon 38 Panel: Harassment Policies for Conventions
This was pretty good. Rachel Silber was the moderator; she's in a position of some authority at Arisia . Other members were Jennie Devereaux-Weber (on harassment policy team for WisCon ), kalmn
(similar position for Minn-STF), and Emily Wagner (from ReaderCon). I didn't take notes, so this is going to be a disjointed collection of mostly poorly-attributed impressions. Further information can be found at #conharrasspolicy or #conharasspolicy (note correct spelling in second hashtag; the initial hashtag was misspelled, but some of us used it anyway). Rachel gave us the URL for her website www.voluntarycomplexity.com
, where she'd put some more commentary and links. Kudos, btw, to Rachel for running an excellent panel with a great balance between panelist talking time and audience participation, and not ignoring anyone in the audience when they had questions/comments.
Jennie and Rachel both made the point that their policies were crafted around treating the harassee(s)/witness(es) to harassment well--not only listening when they come forward, but not shaming them if they don't come forward right away, or have to be contacted well after the fact when a witness brings it up. Widespread approval from the audience. Jennie also mentioned that one of the goals for the revised WisCon policy was to make it easier to follow than to not follow . Rigor of policies varied, but everyone was cognizant of how Readercon painted itself into a corner with their pre-issue policy and were trying to build in flexibility and make policies that could actually be followed as written. The Arisia policy was about the squishiest, IIRC. Readercon's was sufficiently rigorous as to be amenable to flowcharting (though with discretion built in at the decision points), and Minicon/Minn-STF's was still in the assembly stages.
To no one's surprise, the issue of pushback came up; all of the panelists talked about getting varying degrees of it (except Jennie, I think). Lots of similar things showed up in all the descriptions of pushback--concern trolling, what about the menz, and the like. Emily talked about the importance of encouraging reporting of minor incidents and impressions, collecting data so that if someone's behavior did eventually cross a line there was enough information to say whether it was a pattern. This eventually got around to how to deal with confidentiality concerns--who on the ConCom should have access to those data? The topic of training people (con members, committee members, other con staff people) on their rights/responsibilities/obligations under the policy had some interesting solutions--apparently, Readercon tapped the local rape crisis center to train the committee and staff, and this worked very well. Emily encouraged other groups to reach out to rape crisis centers in their areas for similar help.
As I said above, there were a fair lot of comments from the audience, including a couple from spouse. One of the last ones was from apostle_of_eris
(IIRC), and I'm afraid it was easy to take as being a "what about the menz?" sort of question--about, essentially, how one educates clueless guys about the need for a harassment policy. This is not a bad question, and it even goes to one of the stated panel topics . However, the majority of the panel had been about crafting and implementing good policies, so in context it was one that would have been more appropriate for another discussion. It is also, IMHO, the case that this would have been more of a concern twenty or thirty years ago, before the Internet made it possible to encounter the issue anywhere you look.
That reminds me of another couple of things that came up. Emily mentioned that in some ways having the Internet fall on their heads at Readercon made it easier to do the right thing. The conclusion she drew from the depth and breadth of the reaction to their issue was that there were a lot of people out there who expected better of them. If they didn't care, she reasoned, they wouldn't react so vociferously. And once she'd set aside the immediate defensive reaction, she was motivated by the reaction to do better. By contrast, Jennie brought up a situation a few years ago involving WisCon, in which the committee (for reasons which seemed good at the time, but...) kept quiet while they worked on a resolution. As we all know, not saying anything doesn't work to stop speculation, and the last audience commenter recommended some sort of statement along the lines of, "We're working on this. We are listening to what you have to say, but cannot comment right now."
In short, good panel. Would attend again.
 Not the con chair; that person was in the audience.
 You'd think that WisCon wouldn't need to work on theirs, but they didn't see it that way. To their credit.
 This fits well with something we try to do at work with our safety policies; it should be as easy as possible to do the right thing.
 "...how to help convince a reluctant convention to put one in place...."
 Besides, of course, the threat of being unable to get scalzi
, or a host of others whose names escape me at the moment, to come to your convention.
|Friday, May 23rd, 2014|
|Preparing for Departure
Will be leaving for WisCon shortly. Son A. is coming with me; daughter J. and spouse can't leave until they're both done with work, so probably won't get in until kind of late tonight. One of A.'s friends was supposed to come with but canceled at the last minute--back problems, AIUI, and the idea of several hours in a car and three days on unfamiliar beds did not appeal. I can sympathize. See a not-inconsiderable number of you there, and to everyone else I wish a fine and pleasant weekend.
|Thursday, May 22nd, 2014|
Great tweet from @cstross: "The ultimate trending topic on twitter must be a German cannabis legalisation protest day: #hashtag"
|Monday, May 19th, 2014|
|Things That Happened in the Hiatus Part 1: Growing the Family
In the year or so that I didn't post anything to LJ, many things happened that I would have posted about had I not gotten out of the habit. Here's one of them.
My niece (whom I mentioned here, when I was talking about getting a great-niece
) did manage to escape her teenage years without having a baby. She was, in fact, 21 when her son was born. At some point she and Luis, the boy's father, are planning on getting married, but they're in no particular hurry at the moment. I see pics of Luis Jr. on FB with some regularity, though we've only seen him in person twice--once shortly after he was born, and once at Christmas. He's a chunk. Spouse and I got niece and SO a copy of "Go the Fuck to Sleep" for Christmas, which they enjoyed greatly.
|More Things Make a Post
has declared this to be a day for posting to your old LJ. I anticipated that, though, and have actually posted several times in the past few weeks. It's clear that my flist is far more active, though I owe that mostly to james_nicoll
. I also have a few webcomics that I access through LJ, one of which (Phil & Kaja Foglio's Girl Genius) still has a pair of LJ groups with a lot of discussion.
Spouse is currently in the throes of the final couple of weeks of school, trying to escape with sanity intact and some semblance of health. Daughter J. starts her summer job today, and son A. really needs to get on the stick to find one of his own.
In other news, the mother of a good friend passed last night. This friend was one of the people who I met when I first encountered SF fandom/SCA lo these many years ago (coming up on 36; where does the time go?), and it was a great thing when we were able to get back in touch a few years back.
With WisCon rapidly approaching, I'm going to try to finish The Shadowed Sun
in the next few days. Not that I plan on getting autographs, or anything like that, and I shall try to keep the fanboi squeeing to a minimum. It's just that I haven't read anything by N. K. Jemisin that I didn't really like.
Spouse and I visited the vampires Saturday morning, and have both recovered (although spouse's arm didn't stop bleeding right away, leading to a comment about trying to informally donate another few hundred mL). My blood pressure was down to 116/78, which is I think the best it's been since before I had my little excursion
a couple of years ago. I guess the dietary changes and the exercise have been helping, even though it looks as though the whole sodium/high blood pressure link is more tenuous in the general population than previously thought.
I also got around to finishing watching the run of an odd little anime that had come highly recommended, Puella Magi Madoka Magica. A rather odd and disquieting deconstruction of the conventional mahou shoujo anime tropes. Will have to come up with something else to watch while on the exercise bike now.
There you go, Fion. Thanks for the nudge to post something, and I hope your flist takes on some semblance of its onetime activity, if only for a day.
|Monday, May 12th, 2014|
|The Incipiency of a Possible Third Cat
A few weeks ago, the neighbors across the street had a stray cat walk into their garage while a couple of them were outside. It was quite friendly, approaching them and generally acting well-socialized, so they took it in and fed it. It was quite hungry. Very interesting markings, though--tawny gold base coat, with black stripes on its legs and rosetted spots on its body. Son A. went over to see it, followed by spouse, who reported that it was a female, probably less than a year old. Very much the attention piglet. Based on the markings, she looked to be a Bengal cat...a breed sufficiently popular that the lowest price daughter J. could find online for fertile females was $US 650, and the prices ranged up to four times that. So we're thinking she's got a tracking chip, because who's going to get a cat like that without taking measures to find her if she strays? Humane Society checks her. Nope, no chip. And btw, she's intact, and the folks at the HS were pretty sure she's a purebred. So they recommended finding someone with a fertile male Bengal and breeding her once before having her spayed. If the neighbors do this, they'll give us first crack at a kitten. We're considering it, although Bengals are apparently a dangerous combination of intelligence, curiosity, and high energy. We'll see.
|Sunday, May 4th, 2014|
|Computer Stuff, Part Deux
In order to do the Win7 installation, I'd had to take the machine back upstairs, where I could plug it into the router. Just in case there was something weird about the wireless adapter, though, I decided to leave the computer upstairs so I could plug it into the internet if need be. Back to install the adapter software, which goes fine. Time to plug in the adapter! I do so, and the computer can't find it. Same flippin' error as last time. WTF? This is a new mobo! It has brand-new USB ports! What have I done wrong? Was the adapter borked? While I am contemplating this, the computer pops up with a little message that essentially says "Hey, you've got a new piece of hardware there, but I can't find a driver for it." Hm. So I check the Device Manager. Look at that! There's a network adapter that's marked as not working, because it doesn't have a driver, and by the way would I like it to check for a driver? Since the machine is still connected to the internet, I tell it to seek out a driver forthwith. Which it does. And now the adapter works! Glory!
(It is at this point that it occurs to me that perhaps if I had not already been convinced that the problem with the adapter was the malfunctioning USB ports on the old mobo, I might have tried this a couple of weeks ago and saved myself a lot of time and money. OTOH, it was a seven-year-old computer, and now I have a much faster machine .)
So now it's time to connect the old hard drive and see if I can read it. Which I do, and I can. I think. There might be a missing partition there, but I can definitely read my old files. I still have to reinstall Office, but I've got antivirus software and all the Windows patches taken care of. Though now the monitor is being a bit flaky, and I still have the nonbooting optical drive to deal with...maybe next month. I've kind of blown the discretionary budget for a while.
How much faster? Before removing the old mobo, I backed up FireFox and Thunderbird email using MozBackup to extract the profiles. It took a while to do Thunderbird, as I have a lot of saved emails--a few Gb worth. I had reinstalled FireFox and Thunderbird, reloaded the default profile (including user history, bookmarks, plugins, etc.) for FireFox (it took a few seconds), and then when I reloaded the email profile it also took a few seconds. I was not expecting that, after how long it took to save the profile, so I checked to make sure that it had, indeed, put in all the emails. It had. In about a tenth or less of the time it took to save them. Whee!
As alluded to in the previous post, I have been upgrading a desktop computer because it looked as though all of the USB ports were going. Well, it was seven years old, and even though I cleaned it more than once this is still a two-cat household. The dust loading was thus rather impressive. (Seriously, this was a seven-year-old computer, and apart from the USB port issues it was still ticking along. I'd built it, it had an AMD Athlon 64 X2 processor, 2 Gb memory, a 500 Gb hard drive (also original), and a decent graphics card and soundboard.)
Anyway, the USB ports were limping along; what brought matters to a head was when a reshuffling of furniture in our bedroom led to the exile of the computer to the basement. I had a USB wireless adapter, but it wouldn't work in any of the USB ports on the machine--tried to load the operating software, but even though the little LED indicator on the adapter lit up just fine the operating software couldn't find it. Rezzer fezzer. OTOH, I'd been kind of itching to upgrade the system, so I took the opportunity to sink a few bucks into a better processor and a new motherboard. (Besides, MicroCenter was having a sale.) Thinking, of course, that I could keep the existing hard drive and optical drives, case, power supply, etc. (I mean, the old processor used about 90 W; the new one, a much faster quad-core Intel, used about 130 W. Processor efficiency, as autopope
pointed out, has definitely come a long way.)
The new mobo fit just fine in the old case, but the first indications that all may not be well came when I tried to connect it to the power supply. Who knew that the 12V bus connection had gone from 4 pins to 8? Not I. So, new power supply needed. Then one of the optical drives used an IDE connection...of which there were none on the new mobo. Ah, well...the other optical drive was a SATA drive, and the new mobo had six SATA connections. But I still had to get a new power supply. At least MicroCenter had a sale on those, too. And it was a nice one as well--modular connectors, so there isn't quite the cable tangle inside the case that the old power supply engendered.
So I got everything put together, fired it up, and it started...but didn't seem to be talking to the monitor. Turns out that the DVI socket on the new mobo is close enough to the side of the opening in the back panel that the big fat DVI connector won't seat right. (I've sanded off a bunch of it and it's still not seating right. Still some plastic left on that side, though.) However, I had an old VGA cable around, and was able to use that to get the communication issue resolved. Success! I can get to the BIOS! However, the old Win7 installation on the hard drive isn't on speaking terms with the new mobo, and I can't get it to boot off of my Win7 repair disk. This is a problem. I decide that it's time to think about the fact that this is a seven-year-old hard drive, and maybe I should just suck it up and buy a new HD--I have a system image of the old HD, so should be able to salvage everything off of that.
Fortunately, Tiger Direct is having a sale on hard drives. I get a nice 240 Gb solid-state drive and mounting hardware, which installs easily. Then, of course, I still can't install Win7 on the empty hard drive--the idiot optical drive still isn't working as a boot device. That's when I borrowed the USB optical drive from work, and was able to run the installation just fine. So, success! Win7 installed! Now all I have to do is move stuff over from the disk image.
It is somewhere around this point that I discover that the disk image only includes the main partition on the old HD. WTF? This makes salvaging the data off of the HD rather more important. First, though, I need to get the wireless adapter working.
However, now I need to go eat. More to come later.
|Saturday, May 3rd, 2014|
Yesterday was my nominal day off from work (9 hours/day Monday-Thursday, alternating 8 hours/0 hours on Fridays), but I went in anyway to deal with a few things in the morning. Then collected metesten
from her inservice day, went to lunch with her, did a bit of shopping, and took care of matters domestic after that. Mainly cleaning the living room, which has been accreting stuff for the past several months what with metesten
using it for a workspace. I also borrowed a USB optical drive from one of the IT people at work, as the computer rebuild project hit a snag when the built-in optical drive decided not to work as a boot device. It worked just fine.
This morning I installed Win7 on the rebuilt machine (this is what I get for buying an OEM license the last time around) and had time to install the motherboard drivers before we all (me, metesten
, daughter J., and son A.) left for Karen WINOLJ's place to help her pack. Anticipating much dust, we all loaded up on antihistamines before we left and took changes of clothes. After messing up my back slightly a few days ago I wasn't good for much in the way of lifting, but I filled and taped boxes (and boxes, and boxes) of books for other people to stack up. We put in over four hours there, at the end of which about half the books were boxed or wrapped, along with a bunch of vinyl records (including a big box of 45s, mirabile dictu), some dishes, and a lot of dusty tchotchkes. All of that will get moved to a storage locker by folks other than us, which will free up space for her to work in to pack the rest of the stuff. So, incurred some good karma.
Stopped at a local barbecue place on the way home for pulled pork; now that we've eaten, it's shower time.
|Monday, April 28th, 2014|
One of the things I forgot: yesterday, metesten
was making some Red Zinger tea for me, and it happened that the teacup was a modified glass beaker. This meant that we could clearly see the tea as it started to extract from the bag. And the first few wisps of color were green. It was kind of cool-looking, but then metesten
had a realization. "I wonder," she mused, "whether it'll turn red if the pH goes down. tandw
, how'd you like some lemon in your tea?" I allowed as how I would. A bit of lemon juice later, we'd established that whatever makes the red color is an acid/base indicator; the lemon juice changed the color pretty quickly. (That suggests that our dishwashing detergent is 1) basic and 2) leaves residues in dishes. Well, we already knew it was pretty basic by the way it attacks aluminum.)
|Sunday, April 27th, 2014|
|Many Things Make a Post
It's been...that long since I posted here? Really? And it's not like I've been burning up the Book of Face with status updates; just the occasional amusing picture. No, most of what I use LJ for these days is reading other peoples' journals and commenting thereon. But it's been long enough that I should really put something up. So, some culinary stuff first.
For Easter last week, metesten
and I did a muchness of cooking. She made the usual Polish assortment; hard-cooked eggs, smoked and fresh sausage, a lamb cake, and a couple of egg cakes, frosted like Easter eggs (surprise!). I made pasha (butter, cream cheese, honey, powdered sugar, raisins, dried cranberries, candied ginger, cinnamon) and kulich (sweet Russian egg bread with cardamom, though I didn't do the traditional decoration). Easter dinner was roasted turkey and metesten
's familial cracker-based dressing.
Today was a day to go through leftovers, finally. I made French toast with some of the kulich, served it with pasha, and also fried some of the fresh Polish sausage to brown it (and incidentally drive off some of the fat). For dinner I made a paella sort of thing, mostly following Jeff Smith's recipe except where I didn't. Smoked Polish sausage, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, red bell pepper, peas, arborio rice, chicken stock, wine, and bits of saffron and smoked paprika. No seafood, and I was originally going to put some of the turkey in there but it had gone off. Ah, well. It turned out pretty well anyway.
Was in Madison yesterday for a meeting. metesten
had to stay home to drive son A. up north to meet his gf at her grandparents' house; the grandparents then gave A. and gf a ride into town to C2E2. So daughter J. drove up with me. We went early to hit the Farmers' Market in Madison, as we're getting a bit low on maple syrup and a few other things. As we're heading into downtown Madison I notice a bunch of folks sitting on the shore of Lake Monona, along with a sign announcing a race. It turned out to be a rowing regatta, but it got me to thinking. One quick Google search later, my fears were confirmed: the Crazylegs Classic was yesterday. The starting line is on the Capitol Square (right by the Farmers' Market), there were thousands of runners milling around and forming up...and the first group was supposed to start in fifteen minutes. Despite this, we were able to get into and out of the FM in less than an hour. (It helped that we knew where everything was.)
The meeting was, well, a meeting, but it was good to see the people there. We took something like a thousand old VHS tapes up with us to hand over to someone else there, and they had some cast iron cookware for daughter J. (The condition of a couple of the pieces made me wish I still had access to a grit blaster at work. As it is, I'm thinking we'll have to start with a rotary wire brush and hope for the best. Not sure it'll come to naval jelly....)
Other things: daughter J. has been accepted into the surgical tech program at the junior college she's been at for the past couple of semesters after crushing the entrance test. Son A. is having some of the same issues I had with college right out of high school, but I think we might be catching them earlier. We Shall See.
We're planning on going to WisCon and working the con suite again, though there have apparently been some massive changes to the layout there...have to check with troublebrewing
and see what's going on with that. We'll also be doing DetCon this summer, and will be taking a trip in early June that will hopefully take us through L'Anse MI in time for the interment of metesten
's Aunt Amelia, who died a couple of months ago. (In the Upper Peninsula, it takes a while for the ground to thaw.)
And that's about it for now. Doubtless there are many things I've missed, like not totaling any more cars lately, but that can wait for the next post. In another several months.
|Friday, May 24th, 2013|
The first line of a Reuters story today on the death of Georges Moustaki:French singer and songwriter Georges Moustaki, beloved in France for his songs celebrating liberty and collaborations with Edith Piaf, died on Thursday after a long illness.
I knew Edith Piaf was regarded as one of France's finest singers, but I had no idea that anyone wrote songs about working with her.
|Saturday, January 12th, 2013|
|Saturday, December 29th, 2012|
|Sunday, August 26th, 2012|
|Friday, August 24th, 2012|
|Saturday, August 4th, 2012|
|Reminscent of Discussions on James Nicoll's LJ
A recent posting on Balloon Juice
mentioned the Hill Cumorah Pageant, a spectacular reenactment of scenes from the Book of Mormon, performed annually at the Hill Cumorah, near Palmyra NY. It seems that it was written by none other than Orson Scott Card. (The Washington Post reports that Mitt Romney's favorite novel is "Ender's Game," which I find somewhat peculiar.)