This is an average apple: a bit sweet but not very, a bit juicy, some apple flavor but nothing noteworthy, not especially tart. The inside is white and the skin mostly red, and it's a little bigger than a Macoun.
I'll be eating the other but probably not buy more. And then go to the supermarket for more Macouns (we're near the end of the farmers' market season here; I miss the year-round Greenmarket in Inwood).
At the con I will be appearing on panel "Costume Makes the Character" on Thursday at 5pm in Delware CD (along with Delia Sherman, Madeleine Robins, Cinda Williams Chima, and Mercedes Lackey) and I have a reading on Friday at 1:30pm in Union D. Apart from that I will mostly be in the bar and otherwise hanging out. Kate was always the one who set up dinner dates for us, so please don't be shy about asking me along if you need a lunch or dinner companion.
I've been keeping myself busy, being social and spontaneous. I haven't been alone very much, which is a good thing. Most of the time I am okay, though I get walloped by grief as much as a couple of times a day. Being suddenly without obligations, after nearly two years of increasingly burdensome responsibility, feels like my mainspring has snapped. I have also been making plans for the future: Wordstock, OryCon, and Thanksgving with Kate's folks are coming up soon, and I'm already thinking about next year's travel.
Kate's funeral last weekend was lovely. We had 120 people, who fit comfortably into a chapel with a nominal capacity of 100. Ellen Klages did a fabulous job as officiant, and the funeral director said she had rarely heard so many heartfelt, articulate tributes. I learned a few things too -- many people described Kate as "adventurous," which is not a word I would have used but, upon reflection, she really was.
The eulogy I delivered and a photo of Kate's urn in its mausoleum niche are behind the cut.
( Read more... )
Thank you very much for all the support you have offered. It is greatly appreciated and will continue to be needed.
Over two months ago, I emailed Virgin Trains East Coast with a query about facilities at one of their stations.
To which I received the following absolutely generic response:
Thanks for contacting the Virgin Trains East Coast Customer Relations team.
Rest assured, your enquiry is important to us and we aim to respond to all written correspondence within 10 working days. For frequently asked questions, pop over to our website here.
If your enquiry relates to lost property and your train terminated at one of the following stations, then please contact the lost property offices directly on the contact numbers supplied below:
In a hurry for an answer? Pick up the phone and give us a call on 03457 225333 (Option 3) we are here Monday to Sunday 07:00-22:00 and we will of course be happy to help!
Thanks again for contacting us, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Virgin_TrainsEC for all the latest updates.
Today I received the following from VTEC which is quite entirely WTF?
Thank you for your correspondence regarding your experience while using the services of Virgin Trains East Coast.
Firstly, I would like to offer you my sincere apologies for the delay in an appropriate resolution being sent to you. As you may be aware the East Coast Main Line network has experienced a high level of disruption over the last few weeks, which has resulted in a higher than normal level of correspondence being received. As a business we pride ourselves on the level of service we offer and on this occasion we have clearly not achieved this. Please accept my sincere apologies and I would like to assure you that we are addressing the issue to ensure appropriate processes and plans are put in place to prevent a similar issue occurring in the future.
That said, the points you raise are important to us and I would like to assure you that lessons will be learned and the appropriate teams made aware of your comments. This will help us to ensure that going forward, our customers receive the level of service they expect when travelling with a premier rail operator.
I do of course understand your frustrations when using our services and in order to bring your outstanding claim to a speedy resolution, I would like to offer you a complimentary return journey for each person travelling at the time of your journey, and in the same class of service. The ticket is valid for 24 months from the date of this letter, anywhere on the Virgin Trains East Coast Network. To book your tickets, you just need to email your journey details, including dates of travel, to firstname.lastname@example.org, and the necessary travel documentation will be forwarded to you. Please allow at least 14 days prior to your date of travel to request your tickets, and also include the address you wish the tickets to be sent to.
If you have not submitted your tickets or booking confirmation as yet, please do hold onto these as they may be requested when processing your complimentary travel request. Finally if you already have a reference number that begins with VTN, please do include this in your correspondence.
I trust that the above gesture is acceptable and brings your case to an amicable resolution. Thank you once again for taking the time to write to us, customer feedback is important and something we look at closely when reviewing the services we offer.
Well, okay, I felt pretty faffed about by the problems experienced in our attempts to leave Edinburgh over a month ago, but we weren't actually booked on a particular train, we did eventually get one going where we wanted to go, and we didn't submit a complaint.
What I read
Finished both Queer Domesticities and Words Are My Matter, both excellent, would recommend.
Episode 1 of season 2 of Tremontaine, which I though had a bit of the info-dumpy getting back up to speed after a hiatus thing going on, but I look forward with anticipation to where this all goes.
Aya de Leon, Uptown Thief (2016), which is a striking instance of 'book I saw someone write v enthusiatically of somewhere on line', went to check it out, read the sample, bought it. A really pacey heist-thriller: woman runs a free clinic for sex workers in NY, funds it - when more conventional sources don't cover it - by running an escort service on the side, and then moving on to Robin-Hood type robberies. Doesn't romanticise, sex-worker positive, diverse cast. The struggles to get funding get a fair amount of attention, too.
On the go
Looking up Rona Jaffe recently in connection with something or other, saw a title, The Road Taken (2000) that I did not recollect and thought I might not have read. Downloaded it from Kobo. Read about a third of the way through until I reached an episode I did actually remember having read before, but is still surrounded by story I do not recall at all. Not really one of her top works, is a saga of a family through the C20th, and does a lot of checking off of advances in medical science and long-gone medical terrors (Spanish flu, polio) and misguided medical interventions ('radium is a miracle!!!') and social changes. Lacks the immediacy of her earlier works, despatches from the front line of the changing lives of women.
Am persisting, however.
Probably the new Courtney Milan, and on the I R SRS RDR side, maybe Helen Smith's Masculinity, Class and Same-Sex Desire in Industrial England, 1857-1957 (2015).
- Via soon_lee: Ann Leckie on guilty pleasures. Leckie makes some fairly obvious points about how the concept of a "guilty" pleasure is often snobby and sexist, but expands on that with some interesting thoughts about criticizing tastes of those who don't belong to the group you want to identify with.
- kalypso wrote Strange and Norrell fic. It's explicitly based on the TV series (which I've watched slightly under half of), not the book, and I think it really captures the atmosphere but not so much Susanna Clarke's distinctive voice. Massively spoilery for either the series or the books, though. And, uh, the fic is about gaslighting someone with memory loss, in case you don't know the books but want to read anyway.
- Following links from something else, I found this Q&A with a sleep scientist, which makes a nice accessible summary of recent evidence. There's also quite a lot of discussion about SIDS (cot death) risk, which might make it hard reading for some; I really pricked my ears up at:
But most people who want to ‘ban co-sleeping’ don’t think any of [the relevant evidence that the risk may be lower than thought] matters, because it isn’t an important or valued behaviour for them. It is valued by cultural minorities and breastfeeding mothers, not the people who (previously) made up the guidance.
- History of the song L'homme armé, with a long and fascinating diversion about the Crusades and the fall of Constantinople.
- siderea has a lovely piece Forward into light about the history of the US women's suffrage movement. Which reminds me, I am most grateful to all my American friends who are talking about voting, and especial kudos to people who've looked into ballot measures and elections for offices other than PotUSA where that's relevant in their locality. We don't do democracy quite like that but I'm alwyas impressed when people put serious effort into participating and citizenship.
Currently reading: Still In a time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. He's in Austria atm and I have a weird second-hand nostalgia for 1930s Austria, since many people in the community I grew up with were refugees from there. It's a little too poignant to read Fermor looking back on the way of life that, writing in the 70s, he knew was about to be destroyed with the massive swing to the right and eventually the Anschluß.
Up next: I am not sure, I'm leaning towards Two serpents rise by Max Gladstone.
Thanks for making me a thing! I'm looking forward to your thing, and I'm very excited to think you are doing a thing for me. I hope you enjoy making me something (or, if like me, creation is a bitch but you dig the results, I hope you make something you're glad that you made.) I'm going to give you some technical tips that will help you make a thing that I will enjoy the most, but anything I tell you about genre or story is a suggestion so you can figure out what to make for someone who is probably a complete stranger. Story and genre stuff is not a checklist, it's a menu of inspirations for you as you create a thing for someone you probably don't know well.
The only thing I really, really do not want at all is breathplay or choking of any kind.
( technical stuff )
( story ideas ) Have fun and Thank You for making me a thing!
If you don't know what it's about, go look it up. I'm tired.
The story begins in a storm. A young woman (Charlize Theron) is asea in a small boat, with a shamisen - three-stringed Japanese banjo sort of thing - during a storm. She slashes the strings of the instrument to ward off a great wave; when another comes, she washed up on a beach, along with her package - a still-breathing infant (who is however bleeding from the socket of one eye).
Flash forward several years.
A boy named Kubo (Art Parkinson), who is obviously that baby, wakes and feeds his near-comatose mother in the cave they live in. He takes his musical instrument and many squares of paper to town and tells a story, which he illustrates by magically animating the squares to form origami and act out the parts of the story. The story concerns a brave Samurai and an evil Moon King (Ralph Fiennes, eventually), but - as, it seems, always - he has to cut it off and run home before the sun sets. When he arises and night falls, his mother regains consciousness for a few hours and they are happy-ish together. We learn that Kubo must not, under any circumstances, be out under the moon; and that he must always carry with him a figurine of "Mister Monkey."
Of course, the very next day, during a festival for the loved dead, he does stay out after nightfall. Two masked and sorcerous Sisters come for his other eye, saying that they are his Aunties (Rooney Mara), and his mother shows up just in time to die saving him. Oh, and: she's their sister, too; they are the daughters of the Moon King.
Kubo wakes up in a wasteland, awakened by a Monkey who says she is (a) the figurine, (b) not a Mister at all, and (c) here to protect him. She leads him on a quest for the three pieces of a set of magickal armor which, together, might protect him from the Moon King: a sword, a helm, and a mail jacket. They are joined by a befuddled anthropomorphic Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) , who, apparently, was one of the samurai serving the story in Kubo's tales - his own father. They are attacked repeatedly by the Sisters, but stay on the trail of the armor until Much Is Revealed -- really, nothing surprising to a student of story, but so right that it doesn't matter that it doesn't surprise -- and Kubo alone must face his Grandfather.
The story alone is enough to make for a good movie.
The voice acting - Oh, didn't I mention it was animated? It is - pumps it up a notch. I see I haven't even mentioned George Takei or Brenda Vaccaro: they're in there too.
But what pushes it over the top - way, way over the top - of the heap is the look of the thing. It isn't just animated; it's stop-motion animated, amazingly, with very little CGI and that mostly for environmental enhancement. This is a film by Laika, who made ParaNorman and Coraline, and they don't settle for beautiful.
Put it all together and this is unquestionably the best film I have seen this year.
When I got home and put my groceries away, I found her CharlieCard/The RIDE (paratransit) ID card in one of the bags. The cards have the holder's name and photo, and no other information.
I googled a bit, using her name and "Arlington," and came up with three possible phone numbers. One of those got me a man who said it was a wrong number, but that the name sounded vaguely familiar; I may not be the first person to try reaching her there. (When we lived in New York, every few months I got a call from someone looking for bus information.) The other two got me voicemail, and I left messages.
The woman's sister called me after about an hour, thanked me enthusiastically for taking the trouble, and asked how I had gotten her number. I explained how I found her number, and said that I would want someone to do the same for me, and she said that she would call her sister and tell her to expect to hear from me.
I heard from the card-holder at about 6:00, and arranged to meet her at the nearest bus stop, because I really didn't want to go up to Arlington Heights. She was slightly flustered, and when I asked if she could get there pointed out that I had her Charliecard; it took a little back-and-forth to get past that to yes, she had enough cash for the bus fare. She took the bus down here, I handed the card over, and she thanked me and headed for the bus stop in the other direction.
I am pleased this worked out. (The MBTA's suggestion, when I emailed their lost-and-found address, was to give them the name and number on the card so they could deactivate it. This seemed suboptimal, to put it mildly.)
I’m Toastmaster at ICON in Iowa again this weekend, which is always a lot of fun. We’ve got Author Seanan McGuire, Artist Arden Ellen Nixon, Fan Guest Inger Myers, and special author guests Laura Mixon and Steven Gould. As well as lots of other cool people.
I’ll be doing something new this time, too. On Friday from 9-11 p.m., I’ll be doing author photos for anyone who signs up. There’s no charge, but there will be a tip jar, with proceeds going to the Rusty Hevelin Collection at the University of Iowa Special Collections and The Iowa Raptor Project. I’m hoping to have some fun with it.
The full Jim schedule for the weekend is below. Looking forward to seeing folks!
- 6 p.m. – Group booksigning at Barnes & Noble
- 1 – 5 p.m. – DreamCon Workshop (Preregistration required)
- 7 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies
- 9 – 11 p.m. – Author Photo Shoot
- Noon – Stalkers, Trolls, and Other Bullies (Moderating)
- 2 p.m. – Flipping Fairy Tales
- 3 p.m. – Author/Artist Meet & Greet
- 4 p.m. – Guest of Honor Interviews (Interviewing)
- 8 p.m. – Monster Promenade
- 9 p.m. – Round Robin
- 10 a.m. – Blogging Round Robin (Moderating)
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
40 things you can stop doing right now: A group of senior doctors has released a list of 40 procedures it considers to have little or no benefit. Could we apply similar thinking to everyday life?
The truth is that many aspects of life are simply uncontrollable. Ageing, infertility, death and disease – even broken bones – are most often out of our hands. And hearing this news now, post-Brexit, when unemployment, housing and the economy are looking so precarious is an added kick in the teeth. When things are this bad, we want the illusion of control at least.
Partly, I suppose, this is because people feel they need to be Doing Something - is it not well-documented that people expect to come away from a GP appointment with a prescription, which has led to the massive over-prescribing of antibiotics for conditions for which they are not even a treatment. Also, I guess, docs like to feel that they are Doing Something.
I suppose Doing Something may at least be something to occupy one while Nature's Healing Powers take effect...*
I also wonder how much this relates to a society that supposes that you can Fix Things and you should - I was absolutely horrified at that, I think it was Lemsip, ad, that claimed that if you took it you would be able to get into work even with the flu. How bad an idea is that?
I'm fairly sure that there are several things I do less because I see any positive benefit than because a) they are a habit and b) the 'always keep a hold of nurse, for fear of finding something worse' mindset that maybe things would be worse without.
*Not that I am advising the kind of Extreme Rest that was involved in Weir Mitchell's Rest Cure rather than a more moderate regime of Taking Things Easy if one is not feeling quite the thing.