lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
2017-08-22 09:07 am

Borscht! It's What's For Breakfast!

 Look, don't judge, okay?  Sure, it's 9 am, but I've already been up for four hours and borscht looks really good to me right now.  I'm sure there are places in the world where stew for breakfast isn't _that_weird. In Japan, I could have miso first thing in the morning and no one would blink.

When I have borscht again for lunch in another few hours? THEN you can judge me.

What can I say? I really like beets. And cabbage.  But, especially beets. Borscht is one of the few times in my life where I look at a stew and think: "Are potatoes REALY necessary???" (If you knew the depths of my love of potatoes, you'd be pretty shocked right now.) I've also accidentally made this particular borscht recipe without cabbage and I still loved it.  I don't even put beef in my recipe, so it's just kind of a giant mess of beets and spices.  

Okay, I'm judging myself: pathetic beet lover.

If you're curious, I got this recipe from the St. Paul Farmer's Market Produce Cookbook, 2005 edition. It's from Evelyn Kaiser, and it goes like this:

5 cups of water
1 1/2 cups beets, peeled and diced
1 cup potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup carrots, peel and diced
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp utter
1 onion, chopped
2 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup of green cabbage, shredded
1/2 put of tomato, chopped (or one can of diced tomatoes -or- one can of tomato sauce. Not being a huge tomato fan, I use either of these.)
1/2 cup beet, peeled and grated
1 tsp. dried dill (and a sprinkling of fresh, if available.)
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp Worcestershire
salt and pepper (I add a beef bullion or two instead of the salt, because I like the meaty undertone that gives. Plus any bullion is super salty so I can skip any of the added salt.)

The rest reads:

Bring 5 cups of water to boil ad add diced beets, potato, carrots and salt (or bullion, in my case).  Reduce heat an cook covered over medium heat for 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft.*

In saucepan, heat butter and sauté onion and garlic until soft. Add the cabbage and sauté for 3 minutes. Sir in tomatoes, grated beets, and remaining ingredients. Mix well. Add sauté mixture to boiled vegetable. Simmer for 10 to 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. 

*adding the potatoes at the same time as beets often ends with completely mushed potatoes. I would recommend dropping them in 10 minutes later or so, IF you want firm and not completely pulverized potatoes. I suspect this is why the recipe suggests peeling them. I'm usually throwing things into the pot that I've gotten from the farmers' market THAT DAY, so it seems silly to peel the potatoes.... until I forget i should have waited and end up with mush attached to skin. The other option is to skip them entirely, of course, though, despite all this, I rarely do that.  Probably because I feel guilty admitting that what I really want is a giant bowl of boiled beets and the potatoes makes me feel like I'm making a stew.

:-)

I have served this to others and have been met with mixed results. Beets and cabbage are definitely an acquired taste.  It's hard for me to tell if this recipe is as good as It think it is, since literally it could read: peel and dice beets, boil until tender, add salt, and I'd be like WHAT IS THIS WONDEROUS CONCOCTION??

Milage may vary.
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
2017-08-21 07:58 am
Entry tags:

Eclipse Pity Party of One

 It looks like we will be rained out, alas. 

On the other hand, it's so dark out there right now the sun might as well be eclipsed. :-)

A lot of my friends are eclipse chasing.  I'm.... a little jealous. Of course, we could have done the same, I suppose. I certainly had the opportunity. A friend of mine invited my family to join hers in St. Louis. But, at the time, I would not have predicted rain and it seemed like an unnecessary expense, since we'll have near totality here, as well.  I am, of course, feeling (currently) very bummed out.  The sun is now being a tease, so who knows if we'll see anything or not.  I've got some plans in case it does clear up. We bought our eclipse viewing glasses some time ago, at least. So, we will either take them up to Mirriam Park library and join the crowd there, or hop in the car and head to Roseville Library for their program.  Worse case, we can always lives stream. Nasa will be live streaming the event.  Gizmodo also has a good article about what can be experienced even if the sun isn't visible.

At least total eclipses aren't a once in a lifetime event.  In fact, I only have to wait until April 8, 2024 for the next one.  The path of totality passes pretty close to us again (if I'm reading the map right, it looks like we could go visit Shawn's mother-in-law in Indiana and see it.)  And I've seen a number of partial solar eclipses before.  I remember one, when I worked at the Immigration History Research Center, where we borrowed welding helmets from a nearby shop. I also did a pinhole viewing while Mason was alive at Kuk Soil Wan, our old martial arts dojo.  Obviously not as impressive, I'm sure, as totality.  

I'm anxious enough about missing this event that I had a very weird dream about it last night. I dreamed that I went to an event at Shoreview Library and ran into my friend Sean Murphy there. He's actually eclipse chasing IRL, so I asked him why he was in town. Apparently he burned out his eyes somehow... that part had dream logic that made no sense, but when I started to offer our eclipse glasses I realized MASON WAS STILL AT HOME ASLEEP, and so the rest of my dream was me running around while the eclipse was happening trying to get to Mason. At one point, during the darkest faze, dinosaurs came out of the sky, but they were friendly so it was fine.

Happy eclipse 2017! Hope your day is dinosaur free (or not, as you like!)

lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
2017-08-20 06:02 pm

Obon 2017

 Eclipse? Shemclipse! Today was Como Park's annual Obon festival. Bon is, of course, celebrated differently here in the US and Canada than it is in Japan. If we had stayed until dusk as we have in past years, we would have seen the lantern lighting festival.  But, today is TOO HOT and we decided, instead, what we wanted to do was eat our way through the park.


shaved ice

We started with shaved ice (kakigōri) and octopus fritters (takoyaki).  Takoyaki is Mason and my ALL TIME favorite Japanese street food/appetizer.  We then when on to have 'burned chicken' (yakitori), several types of dumplings, and a few misses like the chicken sausage skewer.  I really wanted to get taiyaki, afish-shaped pancake, usually filled with adzuki, red bean paste--BUT the local vendors all make the taiyaki pancakes into ice-cream cones--and ice-cream is a no-go for me, alas.  

I stopped by the calligraphy booth to see my former-language instructor, Tetsuya and he wrote out 'rakuda' (camel) in Japanese for me.  (There's a story and it involves me breaking down and shouting in class, 'Exactly WHEN will I use the word, sensei??!!") There were a bunch of demonstrations, but it was ungodly humid and hot and so we watched a few taiko (the big drums) performances, but did I mention how miserable it was?  

So we raced back to the air-conditioned car and home.  
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
2017-08-19 08:41 am
Entry tags:

Neighborhood Antics

 Our neighborhood, Midway, is often, as we say here in Minnesota, "interesting." Last night, around 7 or 8 o'clock we heard a lot of swearing outside.  Now, I have to admit, this is a common enough of an occurrence that I didn't think much of it at first, but it went on and on and on. To the point where, if nothing else, I wanted to stick my ear to the open window to find out if it was the kind of argument where the cops might have to be called.*

Of course, my whole family, being terrible gossips, all joined me as we strained to hear what our neighbor is yelling about.  We quickly determined that it was "Boat Guy."  We have nicknames for all our neighbors that we know by sight, but which we haven't yet had an opportunity to be introduced to. Boat Guy lives at the end of the block, opposite us, and has a fishing boat that he dotes on. Unfortunately, he always parks it in the street. This is a little annoying, because, lately, our block has been filing up with the cars of the people who work at Hour Car and NEC (the Neighborhood Energy Consortium.) I particularly hate the NEC people because they drive their cars into our neighborhood, park in front of my house, and DRIVE OFF IN COMPANY VANS. I might also be less annoyed with an Energy company's employs parking their cars all over, if their business weren't a block and a half from a Green Line stop and a bus didn't have a stop LITERALLY on their corner.  

So, anyway, we can clearly see Boat Guy roaming up and down the street swearing up a storm because some f*cker f*cking had his f*cking boat f*cking towed and he was f*cking mad about it.  He was literally trying to call people out by saying "I know who you are!" and "I'll make you have to pay $200 by slashing all your tires."  He raged up and down the street, even once turning on his radio super loud to try to get people's attention I'd guess, until his wife came out and said, "That's enough, honey. Come in."

I feel for Boat Guy, honestly.

It's not okay for him to park his boat on the street. It takes up two spots AT LEAST and I'm pretty sure there are regulations about where boats are supposed to be stored.  But, if his house is anything like ours, he doesn't have a decent garage, IF he has one at all. Hardly any of the houses in our neighborhood have off-street parking options.  In fact, a lot of my neighbors on this side have been using the empty grass lots on the other side of the alley to park their cars in because parking is SUCH a pain around here.  His alley, like ours, ends in a pretty abrupt t-interection so I'm sure it's a pain to even try to get his boat up and down the alley... even if he did have space for it.

I can't speak for the rest of the neighbors, because obviously someone called the parking police on him, but I'd take his boat over all the stupid strangers parking on my street.  He's usually very conscientious about moving it around so that it's not always blocking the same house.  

This is only going to get exponentially worse when the soccer stadium goes in.



-----
*A note: There was a time when I used to call for anything that seemed long-lasting. Now, given the current climate, I rarely do this unless someone actually threatens violence or the other person involved says something along the lines of 'don't you dare hit me.' 


lydamorehouse: (cap and flag)
2017-08-16 09:54 am

Wednesday Reading

i can't actually say it's been a slow reading week, since I plowed through the remaining 21 volumes of Pandora Hearts. I also read an on-line, one volume, one-shot yaoi called One Yen Man / 1-en Otoko as well as got through volume 2 of another manga called Bunny Drop last night, which I mentioned here previously (and I have volumes 3-6 on my TBR pile).

It's funny how, despite the number of pages that the above represents, I always feel like I've read NOTHING when I've only read manga.  That's kind of sad, because, obviously, graphic novels and manga are just as "real" reading as any traditional novel.  I don't really know why I buy into the idea that somehow they're 'lesser.' 

Speaking of my my TBR pile, on it is a graphic novel called Skim by Marika Tamaki / Jillian Tamaki, a traditional novel called The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North, the second collected volume of Bitch Planet, Bitch Planet: President Bitch by Kelly Sue Decconnick / Valantine DeLandro, and a graphic novel The Stoneman Mysteries: Book One by Jane Yolen, Adam Stemple / Orion Zangara.

We'll see how much of this I get through in a week.  I need to at least get though The Stoneman Mysteries since I told Twin Cities Geek that I'd review that one for them.  Adam is, of course, a local author and Twin Cities Geeks likes to highlight the local interest stuff whenever possible.  

Meanwhile, I still have a pretty intense case of the blahs.  I blame the weather and the Nazis.

lydamorehouse: (shield)
2017-08-14 05:50 pm

Random Stuff

Let's see. What's been going on with me?

Last night Mason and I went to a vigil for Charlottesville at Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun,) over in Minneapolis.  Did we end racism by gathering. listening to a few speakers, lighting candles, and singing a few songs?  No, of course not.  But I needed to get out of the house and be with likeminded people, and that helped. The Minneapolis weather witches kept us dry, providing a break in the drizzle. Once we were safely home, the sky opened up and all the rain came down. It was a howler, as they say.

It's been very rainy here and that has done very little to improve my mood.  It's supposed to rain all week. It's also a busy work week for me, I work Tuesday night and Thursday afternoon (and maybe Saturday, too. I'll have to check the calendar.) 

So, I dunno, just sort of blah. You?
lydamorehouse: (swoon)
2017-08-09 08:43 am

Reading

 It's Wednesday already again. It was a good week for reading, probably because of our extended stay up at our friends' cabin.  So, stuff I read:

Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey. A book I didn't expect to like, but ended up falling into easily.  It's about a Russian-Canadian witch and berserker/werewolf/vampires (?) I'm not quite sure how to explain the Kin, and that's the part I figured that I'd find stupid, but I really didn't.  It's one of those pseudo-literary novels where it's kind of also about families, both blood and made.  I ended up enjoying it.  

Then, I read half of Emmi Itäranta's The Weaver, because I was hoping for a sequel to The Memory of Water, which I really loved. Alas, this is not what I was looking for and so am giving up on it.  It's just a little bit TOO poetic for me.

I also read a graphic novel called Just So Happens by Fumio Obata. It's about a Japanese woman who has moved to London to pursue a career in some kind of design work. She's struggling with settling in, and then gets the call that her father died in a hiking accident.  She returns to Japan to try to figure out if she still belongs there.  It's kind of a non-story, in that nothing is resolved.  Our heroine never entirely feels at home anywhere.  The art is pretty, though.  It's a fast read. 

I got through half of the Pandora Hearts manga volumes that I took out of the library. (I took out six, read three so far). Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki is about... huh, how do I describe this thing? There's a rich/tragic little lordling named Oz, who gets caught up in a supernatural adventure, probably because he's the key to some mystery involving "the Abyss," and ends up in a contract with a devil.  I'm still not sure how I feel about this series. I watched the first 7 episodes of the anime on Hulu and am finding it compelling... enough. I think my problem is with the main character.  His daddy issues really just don't interest me, and my sympathy for royal dukes only goes so far.  I'm kind of the opposite of your average romance reader (at least the ones who seem to get a lot of books targeted at them, at any rate,) in that you really have to work overtime to get me to give ANY f*cks about rich aristocrats and their "tragedies."  Just slapping a title on a character does nothing for me--well, other than infuriate me. Luckily, our poor little rich boy has a companion that I like better. Sadly, it's turning out that he's a lost prince with a tragic backstory, too, so possibly there's no one in this story that will appeal to me. The only thing that's keeping me hanging on ATM is that there's a scene with the character I like (Raven) wherein his overlord accuses him of feeling "abnormally" towards Oz, which is Japanese code for gay, so here's hoping that Raven is queer AF.

Hoping a manga/anime character will turn out to be canonically gay never ends well, so probably this is an exercise in frustration all around.  Ah, well, I have nothing else to watch while doing the dishes currently, so I will keep with this.

You?
lydamorehouse: (Renji talking smack)
2017-08-08 09:18 am
Entry tags:

Life and Such

 We went to Whole Foods yesterday, thinking to have a nice lunch after soap shopping. It was a disappointment.

I don't know what I was expecting exactly, but Mason had been looking forward to samosas and chicken marsala, both of which he's had before at the Whole Foods deli and really enjoyed. They didn't have any samosas and their chicken marsala was watery and the chunks of chicken were so big that they didn't absorb very much flavor.  It was kind of a bust. (My sushi was good, but...)

We did manage to find some fun soaps, however. There was even a scent called "dirty hippy." Mason was surprised when I guessed that it was basically patchouli.  He didn't buy it, but I could see he was tempted just because of the name. 

Since we were out driving around, we decided to head out to the Ramsey County Library to pick up the books that had come in for me. I requested the first four volumes of Pandora Hearts, which is an anime I started watching.  I figured I might actually be able to plow through it a little faster if I read it.  I'm not very good at binge watching, alas.  Binge reading? Yes. Watching, not so much for some reason. At any rate, I picked them all up and also found a few more on the shelves, so now I have the first seven to read.

From there, Mason talked me into stopping at Game Stop and picking up "Street Fighter" because we've been looking for a game that we can play together. I really like racing him in Mario Carts, but I think he feels bad for me because I'm SO TERRIBLE at it. He'll come in #1 and I'll be dead last. The point is, even though *I* found that fun, he really wanted something we'd be more equally matched in. "Street Fighter" totally works, because a button masher like me can totally win.  In fact, I easily won half of the time.  I think we've found our game.

Because Mason really craved samosas, we managed to talk Shawn into going out to the Indian place for dinner last night. (We like "Taste of India" in Maplewood.) Mason tried vindaloo chicken, Shawn had her usual chicken marsala, and I had curried veggies.  By chance at the restaurant, we ran into our friends Sean Murphy and Katherine Carlson who were coming back from Mankato, after having, unsuccessfully, tried to get into see the Viking's training camp.  They'd also stopped at "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store" on the way back, though Katherine thought the amount of candy on display was almost "obscene." I'm not sure I disagree, but, for me, that's half of the fun of that place. (I'm guessing they managed more virtue than we did. We left with a huge bagful, which was pretty obscene all by itself, after all.)  So we kind of chatted over the booths for a while, but we'd gotten there earlier, so we left after a few minutes.  Still, it was neat to see them. It's been a while, and Sean is one of my very best friends. (I was reminded, seeing him, that we still haven't made it to "Spider-Man: Homecoming.")  

I think I fell into a food coma after that.  I read a little bit in bed, but next thing I knew it was morning.  :-)

Tonight: Twins Game! We should have good weather for it. I will take a lot of pictures.
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
2017-08-07 08:41 am

Feeling: Accomplished!

 Just in under the August 11 deadline, I got my proposal in to the Loft for an intermediate/advanced adult science fiction/fantasy class.  Fingers crossed that they decide to take it.  Apparently--at least according to the front matter for the submission process--the Loft is going to offer fewer classes in the hopes of promoting them better. I would feel slightly better about my chances if the Loft had any real sense of just how many science fiction/fantasy geeks live in this town and/or how to reach out to them. But, fingers crossed! I would certainly help them find folks, if they asked!

But, I feel good for having gotten that done. It's been on my to-do list for over a week. Earlier, I submitted a workshop for teen writers, at the request of my Summer Youth Class Coordinator, which HAS already been accepted into the catalogue.  So, provided that people sign-up for that, I should have work in 2018, even if the adult class doesn't make the cut.

Otherwise, I've kind of forgotten how to Monday.  Having three days up at our friends' cabin was so blissful that I've kind of lost track of all the stuff that needs doing. Let's see, tomorrow is the Twins game against the Brewers that Mason and I decided to go to. We'd actually had tickets for last Thursday, but that was the really blustery day/night AND Mason managed to get a stomach bug.  He was pretty upset having to miss it (especially since there's really no cancellation policy and we were out $$), so we went ahead and made plans for tomorrow. Should be fun... I mean, I'm not a huge sports fan, but I've learned to enjoy baseball, as it is Mason's sport, and pro games are always kind of amazing (as opposed to amateur, I mean.)  Anyway, that's one thing on the agenda this week.  

I also reserved tickets for LATE (10 pm!) Friday night to see my friend Naomi perform in her show at the Fringe Festival.  I'm only disappointed that my other Fringe performing friend, Commarrah, has a show on the same day at the EXACT same time. (Part of the deal with the Fringe is that you have to have a day pass and I was really, really hoping that Commarrah's show would be same day, only, say, _earlier_. Alas. I may still have to contrive to see it. Her show has been getting great reviews.) But, I have never done any part of the Fringe before, so this should be... interesting, as we say here in Minnesota.  We'll see how it all goes. If any of you local folks have advice, feel free to leave it in the comments.

One of my goals for this week is to write up a nice proposal for the thing I'm currently working on and send it off to Martha, my agent.  I should probably have an outline at any rate, so writing up something like that is never a bad idea.  

Mason and I are probably going to go to Whole Foods for lunch. We've been meaning to get Mason over to Whole Foods to check out their fun soaps (something he'd wanted for a stocking stuffer, but we kept forgetting to get for him....and then we decided it might be nicer for him to pick out his own scents.) The new location has a large buffet area, so we can kill two birds and all that.

Yeah... so, that's me. How's your Monday going?


lydamorehouse: (ichigo freaked)
2017-08-06 01:49 pm
Entry tags:

Up to the Cabin

 We got our annual invite to spend a weekend up a our friends' cabin in Wisconsin's northwoods.  It's soooooo relaxing up here.  The water was a bit cold, but we managed.

mason floating on an inner tube, reading

Also, there were hummingbirds:

hummingbirds in the monardia

lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
2017-08-02 09:43 pm

Wednesday Reading

It's late for me, but I'm just back from work at the Maplewood Library. Plus, I am trying out my new computer, a Lenovo. I'm trying to get used to the keyboard. There is a funny positioning of the shift key. But, I'm sure I'll adjust. PLUS, it turns out that my Mac was fixable. My friend Patrick played around with it today and got it up and running. Hooray!

So, let's see, what have I been reading? I actually managed a real book the other day. I read Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel. It read really quickly, but the entire thing was mostly written as a series of interviews (and a smattering of journal entries and news clippings) instead of an actual narrative voice. I never quite decided how I felt about that. On top of that, there was also a very weird intrusion of the "male gaze." The lead scientist is a woman who has become convinced that the giant alien statue they're assembling (not a spoiler, this is revealed on the very first page,) is female. She gets really excited when they find the torso, because it has breasts. I object to none of this. What I found... unnatural was her long description of the statue's breast, using words like "perky" and saying things like, "she was likely the envy of all the other girl statues!" I won't go so far to say that no woman I know talks like this about boobs, because there are always exceptions, but this very much had the feel of those things I'm sure you've read where a male author describes a female character putting on her sweater and thinking to herself about the sexy contours of her body in long, loving detail. (See current Twitter storm over John Updike.)

I'm half way through the first volume of a josei manga called Bunny Drop by Yumi Unita, which I am enjoying so far. It's about a young salaryman who ends up adopting his grandfather's love child. I'm weirdly a sucker for these kinds of stories, where adults who normally don't deal with kids, suddenly have to. It's kind of trope in yaoi, actually.

I also started Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey. I'm not very far into it, but I think I'll enjoy it. Like Bunny Drop, it starts with a funeral, only instead of grandpa dying, it's grandma.  

That's me this week. You?
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
2017-08-01 09:15 am

The Shiny Vastness of the Inter-Webs

 One nice thing about having old technology is that I'm not nearly as tempted by the shiny that is the interwebs.  

On a side-note, do you suppose this happens to Captain America a lot?  Tony: "Steve! Where the hell were you? We texted you a half dozen times!" Steve: *glances at iPhone* "Oh! That's what all that beeping was! I forget about this thing all the time." Because, he would. He grew up, like I did, without the internet, but he also grew up without TV, which is almost impossible for me to imagine. Captain America must have the concentration abilities of a GOD. I would also bet you money that movies give him heart palpitations and possibly motion sickness (mostly this guess is based on Mason's first reaction to a "normal speed" movie--previously, as a kid, because we didn't do TV, he liked really slow animation, like Bambi).

Anyway, the point is, and I do have one, that I've been able to get a lot of writing done. As I mentioned in passing, I have this project from my agent that I'm working on. I don't know why, but she'd really like to sell something more of mine to Tapas Media.  I'll be honest, she probably just wants to sell ANYTHING of mine to ANYONE, since it's been a long time since I've had anything to give her. I suspect that was why the idea of another trunk novel, however bad, excited her. 

It's just... this trunk novel.... it's not just "oh, I wasn't all that into it" kind of bad. It's the kind of bad where, because I was writing for a proto-NaNoWriMo type thing where I was just trying to get a certain number of words done in a day, I have actual sections that read like this: "His eyes were blue, not just a run of the mill blue, but the bluest blue like the bluest blue sky ever." That's a paraphrase, but I was basically just willing to repeat words in order to get words on the page.  On top of that, I had not done the kind of pre-planning that's required for a successful NaNoWriMo and so, when I got bored of the main love interest, I randomly replaced him with his evil twin, with no set-up or foreshadowing or anything. 

This is not a novel I want to put my name on.

I don't even think it COULD sell, even if we sent it to someone.But, Martha also handily sent me a list of "features" that Tapas found successful, and so I thought: I'm not writing anything for-profit right now. Why not just try writing something to spec?  

So far, it's working. That is, I'm feeling good about the words going on the page which is more than I can say about a lot of the writing projects I've started in the past several years.  Anyway, wish me luck.
 

lydamorehouse: (ichigo hot)
2017-07-31 08:47 am

Technology Fail

 Hello from 1998 or thereabouts.  No, I'm not actually time traveling, alas, but my computer is. I'm on a super ancient (in computer years) Gateway, which I am using as a stop gap replacement until we can figure out a cheap new laptop for me.  

So what happened to the Mac? I wish I had a story as good as the time I dropped a frozen turkey on my laptop, but, alas, I think what killed my Mac as a combination of age and... abuse. Yes, it fell off something while it was running... But, thing is, I have dropped this particular Mac from the distance of my chair cushion to the floor multiple times and it's survived just fine. This time? Alas, this time it decided "Nope. Peace out."  Can I blame it? Not really. It's lasted far longer than a lot of my computers.  I'm hard on technology, fam. I just am. I drop phones into rivers in South Dakota and I pummel laptops with 24 pound frozen turkeys.

And, until Shawn can do some research into the best, cheapest laptop, I will be without... well, mostly Skype, it seems. Pretty much everything else can still be run from the 1990s. Once I downloaded a more up-to-date version of Chrome, I seemed to be able to  function pretty well on Facebook without freaking out every time I hit a graphic bundle. I have not tried Twitter or Tumblr, both of which might be beyond the capabilities of this machine.  Tumblr, I suspect, will be too graphics-heavy, though, with the new Chrome,, this guy was able to survive the new .gif and video things on Facebook... so maybe?  Not that I've been going to Tumblr much these days, but it is nice to check in now and again.

No Skype is a bummer. But, I'm hoping to have a new laptop before the week is out. 

I lost nothing of consequence, except a bit of the stuff I was trying to do to salvage a trunk novel for my agent who, for reasons known only to her, really wants me to to try to sell another novel to Tapas Media (that place where we sold Sidhe Promised, the app that made you pay as you go).  I had foolishly started working on that in Word.  But, most everything else I do these days I do on Google Docs, so it's automatically saved on the cloud or inside the brains of Google HQ or wherever that stuff goes.  At any rate, it was not ON my computer, per se, and that's good because it means I still have access to all my works-in-progress, even my Loft course proposals.

Yesterday was just bad technology day because Mason couldn't figure out how to get his Nintendo Switch remote charger to work.  (It may just be, we discovered, that Zelda sucks more energy than the charger can recharge, so he might have to just connect to the console or whatever if he wants to keep playing that particular game.)  But, there was a lot of swearing and reading obtuse manuals, etc. 

We also tried to do our usual Skype chat via Skype on Mason's ROG laptop, but Mason has disabled cameras (for reasons of being 14 and cyber savvy) so between that and issues on my folks' end, we had to give that up after a lot of swearing and reading Skype help pages, etc.

I am hoping today will be less technologically stressful. 

The good news is that my needs are low. I like to be able to check a few social media site, read a few on-line articles, and write in Google Docs. I can do all that from here. It's slower and clunkier, but it's very do-able.  I could complain, but why?
lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
2017-07-27 07:59 am

Reading... Thursday? The Sacred and the Profane....

 Oops, I forgot that yesterday was "What Are You Reading? Wednesday."  This week has been very weird for me.  But, enough of that.  I will simply move my Wednesday list to today!

I picked up a nonfiction book at the library called Gnosticism and Other Vanished Christianities by Richard Valantasis.  I've been interested in the Gnostics since reading Elaine Pagels, plus this one promised to talk about other wacky early Christian cults.  I'm about halfway through the book and I'm a little disappointed in the surface treatment of everything, but the this is a Belief.net publication, so I probably should have expected as much.

Otherwise, I've been doing my usual yaoi reading. I read After Morning Love by Fujii Mitori, which I actually liked better than most.  I feel like the official translator missed the boat with the title though, I think you'd get a slightly better sense of the plot if it were called, "The Morning After Love," just a very slight change that tells you that this starts with the classic, "Wait, why am I hungover? Who is in my bed?" and leads to romance.

But, I speak almost no Japanese, so, weirdly, no one has hired me to be a translator.

Speaking of Japanese study, I've been terrible about keeping up with it, BUT I started watching "Pandora Hearts" on recommendation and I actually had to pause at one point because I distinctly heard the hero ask, "Kimi wa?"  (Who are you?) Given my native-speaker Japanese teacher's reaction to someone offering 'kimi' as a word for 'you,' (he turned BEET RED and literally could not speak for several seconds. I had to be the one to tell the student, "Um, that's a little rude? You've shocked Tetsuya-sensei."), I thought--okay, either this person is extremely rude or... maybe we're supposed to presume previous intimacy, despite the fact he doesn't recognize this demon-woman?  

"Anata wa?" is even fairly rude for an opening gamut, in my understanding. I feel like a polite person would ask, "Dare desu ka?" (lit: "Who is?') leaving off any rude pronouns.... which are most of them, so there you go.

To be fair, this guy is freaked out, and anime heroes tend to be rude as a rule (at least in shounen). Ichigo, for instance, is not someone you want to learn Japanese from because he starts out using the pronoun "tamee" which is akin to shouting out 'Yo, a$$hole' to people you meet. But 'tamee' ...you hear it a lot in anime speech.  You hardly ever hear 'kimi' spoken (or rather I should say, *I* haven't noticed it as often since I started paying attention) except in love songs, where it seems to be used almost exclusively, because of the intimacy it implies. My gut sense of 'kimi' is that it's not the normal sort of word you'd use WITH A STRANGER.

I had a long talk about this with another friend of mine who is studying and eventually, with the help of Google, we learned that 'kimi' as a you-pronoun can be used by men of a high status when addressing an underling without being considered rude AF.  Apparently, in the right context, 'kimi' implies a strong hierarchy, and, thus, tells us a LOT about this character, in that he can presume that the person he's addressing--a STRANGER--is automatically and significantly below him in the social pecking order.  This fits with the character, in that he is presented as a lordling of some sort, though after this pronoun use, I'm going to have to assume PRINCLING of some sort, or possibly even THE prince of all the land.

Things you can glean listening to a program in a language you barely speak.... kind of fun. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, because I am absolutely NOT one of those anime fans who will lecture a fellow fan that subs (subtitles) are superior in every way to dubs (dubbed)--BUT, I will suggest to anyone who is able to handle /comfortable reading while watching to give subs a try once, if you never have, because I do believe that it is possible to pick up extra content subconsciously.  Obviously, the above is an example that only works for someone like me, who is trying to learn the language.  BUT, previous to this, I FELT things about some characters in "Bleach" based only on my impression of their voices--their inflection, etc.  Without knowing ANYTHING about Japanese, I picked up on the fact that one character had an unusual accent (Gin for those in the know) and that it was likely Significant.  I do not know what they did with Gin's voice actor in English.  Ideally, American/Western voice actor casting would have a native-speaker on staff consulting about regional and class accents. (Please don't pretend we don't have class accents in American English. You KNOW what an upperclass East Coast accent is compared to a dirt-poor Southern drawl...) I know likely don't have a person like that on staff, but in my ideal world they would, because this is the stuff I feel you get by listening to the foreign language often enough, even without ANY study.

That being said, if, right now, you're feeling like I just dissed you because you prefer dubs.....  Honey, no!  I am so happy you're watching anime!!  I would never, ever tell you that you MUST do subs. If dubs is what works for you, yay!  I watched all of Full Metal Alchemist and Black Butler dubbed and J. Michael Tatum (the voice of Sebastian in the English BB) is an amazing dude and I would FIGHT anyone who says he's not an awesome, seductive Sebastian!

Besides, if you've been watching anime long enough, there used to be things you could ONLY get dubbed.  I have no idea what the original Starblazers sounds like, but my anime fan cred is strong because, kids, I was watching that LITERALLY before many of you were born: in 1978.  Deslock was my first anime husbando. 

Wow, this turns into a long screed. My apologies.  Gomen, gomen....
lydamorehouse: (??!!)
2017-07-26 09:42 am
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Bummer Bunnies

Yesterday, when I went to pick Shawn up at the History Center, I saw a baby bunny just sitting in the road, near the curb.  She seemed stunned, maybe?  So I went to try to shoo her back into cover, but it became evident that she was injured.  There was blood near her neck.  Worse, (because it's not a good sign when wild animals can be easily picked up), I was able to scoop her up and get her into a towel filled bucket that Shawn prepared.  We took her to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.  

It was the longest drive of my life. The Rehabilitation Center is actually not all that far away--just on the other side of Hwy36 on Dale.  But, not long ago, I picked up a bird that was stunned and it died while in transport, and... I just.  The world is full of awful things, and I just did NOT want a dead baby bunny in the back of my car.

She made it to the Center, at least. She perked up a bit, once inside, actually. Hopping about a little.  But, who knows what happened to her overnight, if she pulled through, or if I only managed to make her death that much more frightening and strange.  I'm going to hope that my attempt to rescue her will save her.  

Then the news hit about health care and that traitor John McCain.  You know, if this were Ireland, they'd have a song about that guy already, I swear to gods. 

All of this contributed, I think, to this sense I woke up with today. I feel like I'm behind on something or I've forgotten something important.  So I spent much of the morning so far reading something that I promised someone I would--a beta reading thing.  I got that done.  In a minute or two I will hop up and do the dishes. Normally today is a day for me to go to the coffee shop and hang out with the ladies, but I'm skipping that in favor of attempting to do enough stuff around the house to banish this feeling. I suspect what I'm feeling is actually 'political hopelessness' like I did right before the election, and what I need to do is garden or sweep or do something else physical. (I have a feeling that if I were still doing martial arts, this political season would have made me an uber-athlete, because my desire to punch stuff and scream is very high right now.)

It's drizzle raining outside which isn't helping my mood, alas.

Okay, off to banish this feeling by doing something.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
2017-07-25 09:40 am

Putting the Boob Back in Discom-boob-ulate

 Yes, I know it's discombobulate, but blame Bugs Bunny. I always say "discom-boob-ulate." It's funnier that way.

Speaking of preemptive explanations, I have decided that the Internet is a terrible parent. I've been on the "Innerwebs" since its inception. If, several years ago, you asked me if the internet is destroying communication, I would have laughed at you and called you an alarmist.  However, the thing that I'm noticing more and more as we get entire generations who have grown up communicating via text is a tendency to assume the worst of the OP (the original poster.) Today, for instance, I got a comment on one of my fics that was a perfectly reasonable response to an author's note that I'd written several years ago that seems, in retrospect, a bit tone-deaf regarding genderqueer/gender fluid folks. This person probably think they took a neutral tone, but it came off as "The thing you need to understand...", which made me want to knee-jerk with doubling-down and yelling "$%!@ OFF."

Luckily, while I wrote a bit of that initial reaction in reply, I'm used to the fact that most of my fic readers are 12 (like, for real).  So, I try not to start with the swears. I try to say, "thank you for the information" and go from there.  Luckily, I also thought to re-read my intro and spotted WHY this person thought I was either a bigot or a moron.  THEN, I was able to go back and write, "Ah-ha! I get your point now, I will fix this so I don't look like a raging moron/bigot." 

And, yeah, I get that *this* is on me from the start. It's not the offended person's responsibility to treat *me* with respect that I don't seem to deserve. In fact, they mostly did.  

It's just that it really strikes me that, at least, for myself, going forward, I would like to pledge to recognize that even intelligent, wanting-to-do-right-by-everyone people like myself have this knee-jerk reaction to being "called out." For myself, so long as the person on the other end has not made it super clear that they are a NAZI in need of punching, I'm going to start with the expectation that the mistake was honest and maybe just soften my initial blow with something as simple as, "I don't know when you wrote this fic, but..." or "Maybe you already know this, but your introduction makes it seem like maybe you don't..."?  

I guess my point is, is that the internet did not teach us how to have a constructive argument.

You *can* have CONSTRUCTIVE arguments on the internet, though.  I've had, actually, a number of amazing, eye-opening arguments on the internet, specifically on AO3 over mistakes I've made in my fics. I learned, the hard way (by hurting someone), why trigger warnings are actually important. In those arguments, I had to do a lot of hard work. I had to let go of my ego and really listen and that's super-hard to do when you feel massively guilty. I also managed to have a conversation on Facebook about women in science fiction without having to go nuclear on the trolls. It can be done. It just takes a lot more commitment than we're used to giving anyone on the internet.

Anyway, truth is, I'm writing about this, because I'm avoiding a bunch of other writing I really need to either do or decide NOT to do.  
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
2017-07-22 01:17 pm
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Apologies for Not Being Around

Mason will be fourteen on Monday. It’s kind of hard to believe that I have a high schooler in the house.

On the other hand, I like teenagers. Maybe I will live to regret the words I just typed, but I will confess that my very least favorite stage in child development is everyone else’s absolute favorite: infancy.

Babies? Not for me. You can keep the “new baby smell” and the diapers and the once every two hours feeding schedule. I like young people when I can have a talk with them. Pretty much the instant they’re able to communicate, I’m there. I quite like the stage where they hand you random things and you suggest, “Oh, you’re giving me an apple?” and they sternly correct you, “No, moose.” Because, you know: toddler brain. But, that delights me. Plus, they just grow more interesting, IMHO, the more they age.

Even though he’s moody af sometimes, I’m happy to have a clever, bright young adult at home.

My folks came up to celebrate early.  We had a good time. Friday night we met them at their hotel and ordered Red's pizza. Mason got to open his present, which was from all of us: a Nintendo Switch.  He was so excited by it (and the new Zelda game) he lost track of time playing it and ended up staying up all night.  This morning, my folks came by ours and we went off to the Good Will Outlet.  That's always an experience. It's the sort of place where you pay by the POUND.  Shawn gets a ton of fabric for her rugs this way, and we usually actually find a few shirts and whatnot for me to wear.  The outlet is a little different from the experience of a regular thrift store because nothing has been processed yet at all--except in the barest minimum of ways: all the clothes are together, all the non-clothes are together. That's it. Sometimes stuff is still in the paper or garbage bags that people donated them in.  We were there when the outlet first opened and there were only the hardcore sifters there.  I watched people just take handfuls of stuff and shove them into their shopping cars--I presume to sort later, though maybe, like us, these were people who wanted fabric of any kind. I'm not sure.  It's quite the experience. I highly recommend it.

Mason and Shawn are both napping now. My folks have left and the temperature is climbing.  I'm thinking about joining everyone in the "cool room."

lydamorehouse: (Default)
2017-07-19 11:50 am

Wednesday Reading (and Writing)

I didn't get a whole lot of reading done over this last week. First, I was busy prepping for class, and then, right after finishing all that, I read and critiqued a manuscript for the Loft's writing coach program. (If you ever have an extra pile of dollars lying around and want to hire me, here's how you can do it.)

Then, yesterday, out of the blue, I got a note from my agent asking if I have any other trunk novels that I might be able to polish up and send off to Tapas Media again.  (She seems convinced she can squeeze real money out of them). I sort of do, but in order to meet what they're looking for, I'm doing a lot of revision... kinda major revision, which might not, ultimately, be worth it. But, I mean, what else do I have to do? (I mean, besides fan fiction.)

But, despite all that, I did plow through three manga that I picked up at Quatrefoil Library when I was there for Gaylaxicon's book club reading of Precinct 13. So, I read:

Dining Bar Akira / Kuimonodokoro Akira by Tomoko Yamashita
Man’s Best Friend / Inu mo Akurekeba by Takashima Kazusa
Your Honest Deceit / Kimi no Tsuku Use Hontou (vol. 1) by Ajimine Sakufu, and one I haven't had a chance to review yet:
Bachi Bachi by Kijima Hyougo.

You?
lydamorehouse: (??!!)
2017-07-15 12:16 pm
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Things I Learned Teaching the Loft Summer Youth Program

 Every time I teach teenagers, I take a moment to gather "market" information. I ask them what they're reading/watching/playing and what they wish they'd see more of.  For YA authors out there, here's what my Loft teens would like most of all:
  1. Assexual representation.  They want a character who is explicitly ace who DOES NOT FALL FOR SOMEONE BY THE END.  Please more GLBTQIA+ representation in general. Non-binary/Genderfluid/Genderqueer, too, please. (Ace comes up every year, by the way.) 
  2. Supernatural creatures who are *not* run of the mill vampires
  3. NO MORE ROMANCE.  Or, if there must be romance, can it please be something more than the tradition love triangle.  Better yet, let the triangle end in a poly arrangement (yes, my teenagers asked specifically for poly).  
  4. More dystopia, but no more Divergent rip-offs. How about a post-apocalypse that has nothing to do with the government dividing people by their skills/factions/what-have-yous?

Obviously, this sample size is small.  My class this year had twenty students, only four of them male-identified, one non-binary, and the rest using she/her pronouns. The majority of the class was female.  There were only two obvious PoCs. All of the students, except one that was there on a scholarship, came from families that could easily afford a $300+ class for their kids. Most were urban/suburban/Metro area, though some came from the 218 area code (I can't remember how many without checking my class list, but it was at least two. I remember because it surprised me.)  

The only other thing of note is that this is the first class where we've had to have a few discussions about the technical aspects of writing. Every year I teach, I try to have an opportunity for students to have their work critiqued. It's best when the whole class can participate and I can teach "how-to" peer critique, BUT with twenty kids it was strictly voluntary and I took their work home and typed up my response to their opening pages.  I bet half the class participated.  

Their abilities ranged wildly, but I was expecting that in a group of 13-17 year olds.  What I wasn't expecting was at least three students who seemed to have zero concept of paragraph breaks.  Their writing was otherwise good, it was just presented as a giant block of text.  I'm not sure where this comes from, and I had to take some time to remember how *I* was taught when a good paragraph break should come.  Of course, much of it comes from osmosis, from reading.  But I do remember someone requiring that we learn about what should be contained in a paragraph... I wonder which grade though?

Anyway, that was the only 'surprise.'  It's tempting to blame the lack of paragraph breaks on the internet.  But, I'm still not convinced that the Internet is ruining young writers. I suspect this lack of breaks comes from generally not being much of a reader.  (Voracious readers always have an obvious 'ear' for how stories are structured.) Or from reading things, like graphic novels or web comics, that come in a differently consumed format.

It was a weird year at the Loft this year, but, ultimately, the class was great.  My boss asked me to be sure to propose something similar for winter quarter.
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
2017-07-10 07:26 pm

Loft Class, Day One

Today was the first day of my class at the Loft, Not Just the Zombie Apocalypse: Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy. Right off the heels of CONvergence, I got up this morning and taught 20 eager-to-not-so-eager 13-17 year-olds at 9 am.

Yeeeeaaaah.

I'm fairly wiped out now, to be honest. I think tonight is going to be an early night for me, especially since I have to get up and do it again tomorrow. In general, I'd say the kids are good. The kids are always good. The question is really, can I engage them. I think I did pretty well actually, since my measure of success is: did I get a bunch of them to open up and talk out loud in class? I did. So, day one: fait accompli.

I also thought today was the deadline for my review of The Wendy Project, a graphic novel by Melissa Jane Osbourne/Veronica Fish for Twin Cities Geeks so I read that again and wrote up a review.  I have a critique project I need to start working on.  

AND, tomorrow at Quatrefoil, I'll be giving a talk with the Gaylaxicons about Precinct 13. So, lots to "keep me off the street" as my grandmother might have said.