Movie Day

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.

Simple Pleasures

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.

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 [1]. Other members were Jennie Devereaux-Weber (on harassment policy team for WisCon [2]), 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, 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 [3]. 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 [4]. 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.

[1] Not the con chair; that person was in the audience.

[2] You'd think that WisCon wouldn't need to work on theirs, but they didn't see it that way. To their credit.

[3] 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.

[4] " to help convince a reluctant convention to put one in place...."[5]

[5] Besides, of course, the threat of being unable to get scalzi or jimhines, or a host of others whose names escape me at the moment, to come to your convention.

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.

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

So children_of_lir 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.

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.

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 [1].)

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.

[1]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!