No, not Readercon; my ancient extremely-dumb phone (picture).

I'd been doing pay-as-you for voice and texts, since most of my life is in spaces with WiFi and I didn't feel the need for a monthly payment. But then I refilled my account and realized that I was spending about $20/month as our text messaging use increased, so it would only be another $25/month for Verizon's no-contract plan with a hundred-buck phone. And the prospect of never having to do a text message by cycling through all the button presses, let alone the security of Internet access more places, well.

So: the low-end 3G Moto G, because it's for backup stuff, checking email in emergencies and getting directions, and not streaming media. It fits nicely in my hand [*], though the grippy sides of this cheap case plus belt holster are welcome, and it runs stock Android and basically does what I need it to without fuss.

Here are some apps I've found useful specifically for the phone:

Widgetsoid (with donate add-on). This does two things: (1) it lets me toggle certain things directly from the lock screen (I use it for WiFi, mobile data, Bluetooth, and ringer status) and (2) on a home screen, it lets me fit more stuff in the same space—I have seven app shortcuts or toggles in a 4x1 widget on my main screen, for instance. (The donate version lets you save widgets to edit them, among other things.)

DashClock with DashClock Gmail+ Extension and DashClock SMS viewer [**]. This lets me see multiple things on the same lock screen: the number of new GMail messages (plus the subject and sender name if there's only one new message—it's supposed to show sender names for multiple messages, but it's not for me); new text messages with their text; plus time, weather, and my next calender appointment within a certain time. There are default lock screen widgets for GMail and messaging, but they're on separate screens, and if I'm stopped at a red light, it's nice to get everything in one place.

(There are a million extensions for DashClock, but skip the toggle ones: all of them require unlocking the phone, not just the app-launch ones like in Widgetsoid.)

Moon Reader. Syncs reading position across devices with Dropbox, very customizable. The Pro version has more fonts and things, and I bought it to support the developer, but I don't actually depend on any of the pro features, I think.

[*] But though I loathe the idea, I can definitely see that when my Nexus 7 dies, I'm probably replacing it and this phone with a bigger-screened phone. I like the size of this, being able to fit it into pockets and hold it very comfortably, but the convenience of a single device is hard to beat. I already gave away my beloved Sony eInk reader, because I was hardly using it with the tablet always to hand, and I can definitely see the same fate coming for the phone+tablet combo.

[**] Before you download it, you'll probably need to go into Settings/Security and check "Unknown sources."

What about you? What handy little apps or tricks have you found for your Android smartphone?

Edit: I forgot, Verizon gave me a free Bluetooth car speakerphone, which works fine, though I don't use my phone in the car enough to bother with buying one for myself.
This was another split Readercon for me. The hotel situation . . . was better than last year, but still not good, because after I called twice to emphasize how important it was that we get a connecting door and how they messed it up last time, the hotel set aside two rooms with a connecting door for us . . . and then gave one of those rooms away. And apparently didn't notice or care until they handed me the keys for rooms 20-odd numbers apart and my face crumpled.

Eventually they found us two adjacent rooms without a connecting door, and I'd bought a baby monitor out of anxiety about the situation, so it was workable, but GAH. The hotel sent me a "give us feedback!" email, and I gave them feedback, you bet; the manager-type who wrote back said that I should contact them next year, but honestly I don't know. The split thing is increasingly unsatisfying, and I think I might leave the family at home next year and do a proper New England vacation with them separately.

Anyway. One panel, notes of which were just posted; one panel of my own, notes on which forthcoming. Bake sale did well. Pleasant lunch with [personal profile] yhlee and spouse; pleasant conversations with people for a bit on Saturday night. And the kids had fun at Boston museums and in the hotel pool—SteelyKid made fast friends with a kid in the pool on Saturday afternoon, who turned out to be Gavin Grant and Kelly Link's daughter, which amused me for some reason. Things went okay strictly-con-wise for me, but I was hardly there, so, you know, that take with a grain of salt.
Panel notes, belatedly but whatever! Tidying while on Readercon conference call, actually.

Description:

When the Other Is You
Being part of an underrepresented group and trying to write our experience into our work can be tricky. We might have internalized some prejudice about ourselves, we might not have the craft to get our meaning across perfectly, and even if we depict our own experience totally accurately (as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie observed in her TED Talk "The Danger of a Single Story"), we do so while struggling against the expectation that our experience is or isn't "representative" or "authentic." How do we navigate the pitfalls and responsibilities of being perceived as spokespeople? What potentially pernicious dynamics allow us that dubious privilege in the first place? Which works make us cringe with their representations of us, and which make us sigh with relief and recognition?
Chesya Burke, Samuel ("Chip") Delany, Peter Dubé, Mikki Kendall, Vandana Singh, Sabrina Vourvoulias (leader).

(My standard note on accuracy and names.)

notes )
Want a Parabolan Kitten? They're the offspring of the Parabolan Panther, a backer-only reward, and can be used in both FL and SS. (FL stats are Persuasive +3, Bizarre +1; not sure about SS. Plus, cute.)

Leave me a FL username in comments; I have five now and will have more in a week (Panthers who gestate in dreams have very short pregnancies).
Last weekend I tried to get my car inspected, but the gas station 'round the corner discovered that the hood wouldn't open. So this week I brought it to my dealership for a diagnosis, they ordered the necessary parts, and today I left it there and took their shuttle down to work. At lunchtime they called to say it was ready, and I took a cab up.

I picked up my car, left the dealership to run an errand and then head back to work, and then two businesses away from my dealership, *bam* suddenly there's a big pickup truck smashed into the driver's side of the front of my car.

That road is two lanes in each direction plus a turning lane, you see, and I was in the outside lane. The person on my left, in the inside lane, waved the pickup across to turn into the Wendy's (at least that's what the pickup driver said, and it does make sense), but the pickup driver didn't see me in the next lane over.

I'm fine—it was a low-speed collision since the pickup driver was starting from a stop and I wasn't going that fast because there was traffic on the road. No airbag deployment, no bruises, though I'm feeling a bit achy (this is doubtless exacerbated by the stress). Hell of an adrenaline comedown, though.

After the police came to fill out an accident report, I managed to get my car back down the street to my dealer's—just barely, as it turns out, because when the people at the dealership started it up again to put it where they needed it, they had a lot of trouble keeping it running. (The pickup driver followed me to make sure I got there okay. They were driving a work vehicle and I hope they don't get in too much trouble solely over this—they made a mistake, no question, but for me it's a very "there but for the grace of something" kind of mistake, and they were very polite to me.) And hey, at least I didn't need a tow since I was so close . . . though you bet I regret the money spent on the hood, now.

So it's in the hands of the insurance companies, now. I strongly suspect it's going to be totaled, because it's a 2003 Prius with 138,000 miles on it, and, well, take a look:

my poor smashed car )

I'm honestly a little bummed at the prospect. We've been putting money away for a new car, because mine's old and Chad's has had persistent electrical problems, so financially we'll be okay, but darn it, I was hoping to get at least 150K out of it just to say I had, you know? It's my first car, it fits me like a glove, and I think it probably could've gone for considerably longer if it weren't for this.

Anyway. If it's fixable, great, and if it's not, then I'll get a shiny Prius C out of it.
And done my posting about it, too, more to the point. Come talk about them! (Now with miserably embarrassing brain glitch fixed!)

Listened this morning while exercising. Just one comment:

spoilers )

Several months ago, I dumped a bunch of songs into a shuffle playlist and called it "Transformative Weather": things that reminded me of Welcome to Night Vale in some way, things I'd just been listening to then, a couple Dylan covers that I really like and that had come up on shuffle again recently, and some other things that just seemed to fit.

I later refined it into an actual listen-in-this-order playlist, and in celebration of catching up on my episode reactions, I've put it on YouTube, because that is a thing one can do these days. As usual, I have only watched snippets of most of the videos, though I have optimized the start and end times for music-in-background as opposed to video-watching purposes. If you like the songs, support the artists, please.

  1. "Hard To Make It," by Tracy Grammer (could only find a live version; volume is very low)
  2. "Bad Luck," by Langhorne Slim & The Law
  3. "Tallulah," by Company Of Thieves
  4. "Fire In the Canyon," by Fountains Of Wayne
  5. "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go," by Miley Cyrus
  6. "Calamity Song," by The Decemberists (Infinite Jest fans, you need to watch this video; volume is very low)
  7. "Call Me Up," by World Party
  8. "Radioactive," by Imagine Dragons (yes, I used the WtNV trailer version for the YouTube playlist, because the official video does weird things to the song)
  9. "That Old Black Hole," by Dr. Dog
  10. "Long Time Coming," by Delays
  11. "Gimme Sympathy (live)," by Metric
  12. "Chloe," by Grouplove
  13. "With God On Our Side," by K'naan
  14. "Sleep All Summer," by Crooked Fingers
  15. "Love Will Save Your Soul," by Grouplove
  16. "Anna Sun," by Walk the Moon
  17. "Bottled In Cork," by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
  18. "Living in Colour," by Frightened Rabbit
  19. "Graceless," by The National
  20. "Make It Always Be Too Late," by Del Amitri

(The last song is (a) the one I would pick in a heartbeat if the Night Vale folks showed up on my doorstep and asked me to introduce the weather; and (b) so obscure that last time I looked I couldn't find it on YouTube, only live covers that lacked the instrumentation that gives it the full feel. So yay it being up now.)

So the live show I saw with [personal profile] kass and [profile] yaoobruni back in, uh, March, was called "The Librarian." According to [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel they are still touring it, and moreover haven't updated it to take place after "Parade Day" (which I don't think would be very difficult to do).

Very general comments about the experience below the cut.

your call on how spoiler-averse you're feeling )

Finally, if you're wondering where the quote "Monday would like you to leave it alone. It is not its fault that you are emotionally unprepared for your professional lives." came from, it was here.
I am pretending that the most recent episode doesn't exist, because if I keep waiting to listen to the current episode to write up my notes from the last ones . . .

So this starts with the double live episode, Episode 49, "Old Oak Doors," and then goes back through the older ones. I should also mention the live show I saw a while ago, which I will put in a separate post since that episode is not online yet.

And now, the spoilers.

Episode 49, 'Old Oak Doors' )

Episode 48, 'Renovations' )

Episode 47, 'Company Picnic' )

Episode 46, 'Parade Day' )

Episode 45.5, 'The Debate' )

Episode 45, 'A Story About Them' )

Episode 44, 'Cookies' )

Episode 43, 'Visitor' )

Episode 42, 'Numbers' )

Episode 41, 'WALK' )

Episode 40.5, 'Condos' )

Episode 40, 'The Deft Bowman' )

Reference: transcripts.

The self-billed "world's leading feminist science fiction convention" has decided that the appropriate response to multiple reports of harassment by Jim Frenkel is to prevent him from attending WisCon in 2015; possibly permit him to attend in 2016, 2017, or 2018, if he "chooses to present substantive, grounded evidence of behavioral and attitude improvement," but not let him attend those years if he doesn't; possibly permit him to return in 2019 even if he doesn't; and, if he's allowed to come back, ban him for the first year from "appearing on programming or volunteering in public spaces."

Why this is terrible, part one, in less than 140 characters:

It's not the job of a convention to rehabilitate a serial harasser. It's their job to offer the greatest possible safety to attendees.

Genevieve Valentine, as part of a series of Tweets that I have Storifyed

(The longer version is What Conventions Are and Aren't, by [personal profile] rosefox—back in 2012, after a prior well-publicized fandom convulsion about harassment at cons, note. [Disclaimer: I am now volunteering on the Safety Committee that was created as a result. This post is not made in that capacity.])

Why this is terrible, part two:

It strikes me as abundantly clear that, unlike the case with Readercon in 2012, there's no changing it and no hopes of improvement in the future.

First, the statement makes a point of saying "These are official WisCon actions, and will not be affected by future philosophical or policy discussions."

Second, the committee that reached this determination is:

Debbie Notkin, chair [WisCon's newly-appointed Member Advocate]
Ariel Franklin-Hudson [current Head of Safety]
Jacquelyn Gill [chair of the Harassment Policy Committee, at least as of the just-concluded WisCon]
Jim Hudson
Jackie Lee

. . . yeah.

Edit: apparently what I meant here was unclear. I meant that given the positions the first three people hold, I hold out no hopes for better things to come: they are the ones in charge of safety for the entire con and they are the ones who are supposed to know better.

Between this and MoonFail in 2011 (various links in this old post), I'm not waiting for strike three. But hey, now I won't have to figure out the best way to get to Madison over Memorial Day weekend! /tiny silver linings

And it is awesome.

cut for length )

Thoughts on any of these topics are always welcomed.

(Edit: weirdly, Chad is still not on any science panels, despite being an actual working scientist and one who specializes in public communication regarding science. They claim to have a full track, so maybe they're just full up with people the track leaders already know and committed to, or something? If so, I mean, good for them, but still, kind of weird.)
Several weeks ago, I embarked upon a mildly obsessive compare-and-contrast of all the versions of "Atlantic City" that we had in our music library, the results of which I will now share with you all, because why not.

Here's the official lyrics (click the little horizontal lines next to the song to expand them).

Here's Bruce Springsteen's original:

video embed )

Acoustic guitar, harmonia, slightly eerie echoing backing vocals, and that delicate guitar work under—is that the bridge, the bit that starts with "Our luck may have died and our love may be cold"? (My musical vocabulary is almost non-existent.) Not the version that crawls into my head and doesn't come out for days, but powerful.

Here's a recent Bruce rendition, with the Sessions Band, off Live in Dublin:

video embed )

Starts with banjo and acoustic guitar; eventually brings in the full 18-piece backing band including multiple vocalists. Love the banjo-and-guitar sections, but think the overall big-band style fails to convey the necessary darkness.

A classic cover by The Band:

video embed )

Acoustic Americana; apparently the version that half the world thinks is the original. Very competent, love the mandolin (at least, the Internet claims that's what that first instrument is), but (1) one of the changes it makes to the lyrics has bad associations for me [*] and (2) I also think it doesn't get the tone right.

[*] Instead of, "Now I've been looking for a job but it's hard to find / Down here it's just winners and losers and don't get caught on the wrong side of that line," they have "there's winners and there's losers and I'm south of the line." That reminds me that it's the same band that did "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," which I cordially loathe, because it's an extremely catchy and well-crafted song about, as Wikipedia concisely notes, "the last days of the American Civil War and the suffering of Southern whites," which, fuck the Confederacy.

And the cover that sent me down this road, several weeks ago, because it kept coming up on shuffle play at bedtime, by the Hold Steady:

video embed )

Piano, sax, electric guitar. Granted, it's Craig Finn's voice, but I like the way this version highlights "Last night I met this guy, I'm going to do a favor for him," and I think it hits the proper tone—more sinister than eerie, but that's appropriate too. This is the version that crawls into my head and doesn't come out for days, for whatever reason.

Plus one I came across while looking for the above links, by Mumford and Sons with Haim (contains one audible "fucking"):

video embed )

(Oh hey, look at that, we can use the non-old embed code on DW now and specify start time with a URL parameter. Cool.)

Electric guitars, full band including strings and horns. Normally I do not care for Mumford and Sons at all, but I like the bass-heavy bluesy feel of the opening verses, especially the second one, which is sung by Este Haim. I just wish the harmonies were tighter (I know, tour, different bands, blah, it just makes me sad). Also there's lots of jamming, if you like that.

And that's about enough of that.
Hello DW,

I have things to say! About Readercon and Welcome to Night Vale and four versions of "Atlantic City" and the Hugo & Campbell nominees and the kids and traveling to England and Ireland next month, yikes . . . but I came home from Readercon to find that work had exploded in several different directions. So I will clear one thing off my queue with a short request for assistance, and hope to catch up with other things later.

In a couple months, I am going to re-read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell for Tor.com for the lead-up to the BBC series (release date as yet unannounced, but probably near the end of 2014). (I will also re-read The Ladies of Grace Adieu.) Sometime after I finish that, I will also re-read the Temeraire series for the lead-up to the release of the final book. [*]

I have two books on the Napoleonic Wars already: The Napoleonic Wars: A Very Short Introduction, by Mike Rapport, which I have just started and am appreciating so far, and Napoleon's Wars: An International History, 1803-1815, by Charles Esdaile. I expect these will suffice for my military history needs for JS&MN, but if you have very strong feelings about this topic, feel free (after you see the note below).

The next thing I know that I need is a social history of the UK that includes this time period, to give me context on JS&MN's handling of class, gender, nationality, and race. Do you all have any suggestions?

And what else do I need that I don't know I need? I'm going to have to go much wider on the history, military and otherwise, for Temeraire, but let's put that aside for the moment because it's further away. Is there history or literature or anything that JS&MN is engaging with, that your knowledge of enhanced your appreciation of the book? What is it, and what should I read to get up to speed on it, if possible?

(Note: I am way more likely to follow up on your suggestion if you explain why it is relevant specifically to JS&MN and provide enough information for me to find the work you are suggesting. And while I can probably get many academic works via Chad, it would be extra-useful for you to indicate how accessible an academic work is to someone not part of academia, i.e., me.)

[*] While I did The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit chapter-by-chapter, JS&MN is 69 chapters long, and the Temeraire series is eight novels long, so, uh, no. I've very carefully divided JS&MN up into 13 parts of approximately equal length that do not violate chapter or volume boundaries—seriously, a spreadsheet was involved, it was kind of ridiculous—and will be using the handy three-volume structure to divide up each Temeraire book.

I am very excited about these projects, so thanks for helping me get started!

(PS: those of you who prompted me to pitch these forthcoming re-read series, back in the day, by noting the relative lack of female authors in Tor.com's rereads may be interested in today's launch of Judith Tarr re-reading Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince trilogy.)

Two kinds of chocolate chips cookies for the bake sale (terrible phone photos) are done. I'll be at the bake sale Saturday morning—come say hi, and by all means please bring something if you're able, no need to ask in advance!

I'll also be on one panel:

Books That Deserve to Remain Unspoiled.
Jonathan Crowe, Gavin Grant, Kate Nepveu, Graham Sleight, Gayle Surrette (moderator).

In a 2013 review of Joyce Carol Oates's The Accursed, Stephen King stated, "While I consider the Internet-fueled concern with 'spoilers' rather infantile, the true secrets of well-made fiction deserve to be kept." How does spoiler-acquired knowledge change our reading of fiction? Are some books more "deserving" of going unspoiled than others? If so, what criteria do we apply to determine those works?

Sunday 10:00 AM, Salon G


And I'll also be chasing the kids around the pool at various points, or hanging out in the lobby, or what-have-you.

And now, I must go pack, because in my experience packing expands to fill all the available time.

I never saw the original. Should I be watching this?
So, back in November, I was re-watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and re-reading the manga. And I wrote up the last three episodes with accompanying manga notes and then froze up on turning my final-thoughts notes into actual sentences. And so these complete episode+manga reactions have been sitting in a text file ever since.

Clearly I am never going to get back to this, and so I am putting up this blast from the past just for completeness' sake; the episode+manga reactions are untouched from November except to fix a few typos. (I will expand and annotate the final thoughts just slightly, though.)

Spoilers, obviously.

Episode 62 )

Episode 63 )

Episode 64 )

Final thoughts (incomplete) )

Dear self, no matter how many fond nostalgic feelings you have for this show and this manga now, you are not allowed to rewatch it or reread it, because you have way too many other things to be doing. Post timely next time and you won't give yourself belated warm fuzzies.
So it's taken me way too long to realize this, probably after everyone else in the world, but all the miserable hours I've spent looking for shoes and clothes has finally paid off, thanks to online shopping.

I figured this out first with shoes, since Zappos has a way better selection than any store around me: right, from trying on a million shoes that don't fit I know I need a strap here, a toe that shape, a sole of this composition; videos suggest this bends well, and reviews say a narrow heel that your foot doesn't slip out of? Awesome, and returns are free so there's no risk if I guess the size wrong. *hits purchase*

But it never occurred to me to try this with clothes until just very recently. And for work clothes, I tend to make do with whatever's reasonably fitting and venue-appropriate, regardless of whether it's also flattering or makes me happy, because if I held out for that then I'd never buy anything. Then I bought a necklace from [livejournal.com profile] elisem, didn't have any suitable shirts to wear it with, and had to resort to online shopping to find one, because apparently brown is not an In Color this year. When I went to pick up the shirt from Macy's, my eye landed on a dress that yelled out, "I will be comfortable and flattering and work-appropriate, buy me!" (The listed price is definitely not, by the way, what I paid for it.) And I guessed at a size and it fit perfectly and I went home glowing.

A day or two later, I went looking around the manufacturer's website and discovered that they were having a sale and that a third-party merchant was having a free trial period on free return shipping, so it would be no risk to assume that their sizing held constant. I ruled things out based on my extensive experience of "no, that will look awful on me" and ended up with three summer work-appropriate dresses, which arrived today and all fit great and now I will be happy to get dressed to go to work, go figure.

The morals of this story are: free return shipping is awesome; having shitty luck finding stuff in stores at least can teach you what to avoid when you're narrowing things down; and finding something that fits you from a manufacturer with consistent sizing is a really great stroke of luck.
I always called my friends' parents Mr. or Mrs. (Kid's Last Name), and only realized years later that for some of them, that was incorrect (mothers who hadn't changed their names on marriage, whose kids had their father's last names). Now I'm starting to confront the issue of what to tell SteelyKid's friends who say, "Uh, SteelyKid's mom—?"

Ms. Nepveu seems kind of formal—my default association with people calling me that is judges and telemarketers—also hard to say, but Ms. Kate seems . . . weird. And I don't want to use Mrs./Ms. Orzel on principle, because I'm not.

What do/did you all do?

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 32


How do you ask your kids' friends to address you?

View Answers

Mr/Mrs/Ms (Kid's Last Name)
0 (0.0%)

Mr/Mrs/Ms (Your Last Name)
4 (14.8%)

Mr/Mrs/Ms (Your First Name)
5 (18.5%)

Other, which I will put in a comment
18 (66.7%)

Ticky?

View Answers

Ticky.
16 (55.2%)

I am a god, you dull creature, and I will not be bullied by--
1 (3.4%)

I am Iron Man.
8 (27.6%)

I'm sorry, I'm not that kind of doctor.
6 (20.7%)

Who the hell is Bucky?
7 (24.1%)

Come talk about them with me, over at the booklog!

(I've also put up a bunch of other posts in the last couple of weeks, too, in case you missed them.)

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