Over the years various disadvantages of eyeglasses arose: when my friends went snorkeling spur-of-the-moment in Hanauma Bay, I had to stay behind. In public bathhouses my glasses were completely obscured by condensation, and without them I had a hard time reading signs or clocks or recognizing people I'd come with. In chadō, the lack of peripheral vision led me to bend my neck to see things that would be below the lower edge of my eyeglasses if I kept my neck straight and properly in line with my back. More trivially, a pretty metal filigree masquerade mask I picked up on Etsy looks ridiculous with eyeglasses. More abstractly, eyeglasses, especially sunglasses but also regular eyeglasses, seem like an interpersonal barrier in photos or when I'm talking with people face-to-face.
So I decided to try modern soft lenses, with a little hesitation because I knew their larger size and lack of rigidity makes them harder to insert and remove. (For reference, rigid lenses are inserted by placing them directly on the cornea, and they're removed by pulling the eyelid tight and then blinking.) And I couldn't forget that my decades-ago first attempt to put lenses in my eyes led to a vasovagal response. Wikipedia and the technician teaching me describe this as the process for soft lens insertion:
Soft lenses may be placed on the sclera (the white part of the eye) and slid into place. The other hand may be used to keep the eye open. Alternatively, the user may close their eye and then look towards their nose, sliding the lens into place over the cornea.I had a lot of trouble with this technique. After forty minutes of practice, I managed to get a lens in each eye, but I couldn't get them out, which involves squeezing the edges of the lens together against the eye. I called it a day and returned the following week to try again with what turned out to be a different technician, who demonstrated a far simpler insertion technique: just put the lens directly on the cornea. The end. Just like with rigid lenses. I mastered that pretty much instantly. Placing it on the sclera and then sliding it into place on the cornea just doesn't make sense to me. With practice I eventually mastered lens removal, too. They're very comfortable so far. I haven't gotten anything bothersome in my eye in the week I've been wearing them—I don't know whether that's because I just haven't gotten any significant particles in my eye in that time or whether it's because it's much less irritating with soft lenses than with hard ones. I still have to clean them nightly, which is slightly easier due to the all-in-one solution but slightly harder due to the tint being so faint that the lens is essentially invisible when it's in the solution. For the record, they're daily wear disposable lenses designed for 4-week replacement.
Some of the stuff that I've written is really what I'd call really substantial works. They're still short, but they're solid stories, well-written from a solid idea. Then there are the sort of wispy stories that are usually very short, often jokes, often hinging on word play. It's not that they're not good or that I'm not proud of them (they usually make me feel pretty clever, in fact), but there's just not a lot to them. Of course, a lot of stories fall somewhere in between those extremes, and some I think are both fairly substantial and also clever jokes hinging on word play or references.
The thing is, it's easier to sit down and write the less substantial stories. I can take a word, a random word, and just play off associations it brings to mind until I have a bit of a dialogue, and from there it's just a matter of getting to that point, or starting with it and springing off from it. It's a useful and interesting exercise, but the results never feel quite as satisfying as the sturdier works... which can't be done on command, they have to come from somewhere.
Sooner or later, I tend to feel guilty about the less substantial ones, even though they're not bad and the nature of the beast is going to be that they're going to be a lot of them. The slower the update schedule I'm adhering to is, the more guilty I'll feel... three or four bits of candy floss a week isn't a big deal when there are five stories to post, but two in a row feels like too many when they're the only pieces I post in a week. Even when they're not bad, I know they're not all I'm capable of.
This kind of thinking is a trap, of course. None of us write our best, strongest work every single time, nor is there only value in our strongest work. Nor are "best" and "strongest" objective valuations that every reader in the audience will agree upon.
I'm thinking of this today because I had a twinge of guilt after finishing writing a very short piece for a warm-up that I wrote by going to a random word generating site and refreshing until something sparked (it was only the second word, in fact, that gave me the idea), and I thought, "Would it really be worth it, posting this story?"
After some consideration, I realized that as long as I'm keeping a sheaf of stories written in advance, I can arrange it so that I never post two stories I feel like that about in a row. And if I get a really big backlog, I can possibly post ones that I think are pure fluff as extras.
The main thing, though, is to just not get hung up on this. This is the kind of thinking that takes what is an easy and rewarding task and turns it into something riddled through with anxiety. I enjoyed writing my randomly seeded story. I think the people who've enjoyed reading my flash fiction in past years would enjoy reading it, too. And writing the silly little bits of fluff is part and parcel of the process that leads me to the more satisfying fare.
Doing okay. We had a very windy storm last night so I slept with my noise blocking earbuds in instead of my regular ones, and as a result I missed Jack calling me for breakfast and had to be shaken awake. I'm usually the lightest sleeper in the house, so this was a kind of unfamiliar experience for me. Made for a bit of a jumpy start to my day.
The Daily Report
Apart from re-starting Fantasy in Miniature, I didn't feel like I accomplished much yesterday, though when I knocked off at 6:30 I was counting the day's status post among my accomplishments... then I opened up Dreamwdith today and it asked me if I wanted to restore the draft I was working on yesterday. Oops.
But Fantasy in Miniature is back! It will be updating on an opposing schedule from Tales of MU. The first one went up yesterday: http://www.fantasyinminiature.com/2
As of this past weekend, I've added a category for poetry. Any poem I publish, once the rights are reverted to me, will go there, as long as it contains something that broadly constitutes a story.
There are, as of this moment, one hundred and fifty stories and one poem on the site. There are a very small number of recurring characters, and a few of the stories were sketches for a possible longer work of weird apocalyptic fiction called In Later Days, but they all stand on their own well enough that you can just hit the random link again and again if you'd rather experience it that way.
Plans For Today
Yesterday was kind of a bust, as mentioned above. Today I'm going to endeavor to have what is both a relaxing day and a productive work day, by which I mean I'm just going to be writing all day.
( Read more... )
2. Dog continues her odd stepwise decline, with problems cropping up on the regular but none of them singularly serious enough to be critical, and she's still happy/eating/playing with her toys, so quality of life isn't an issue yet. The framework I've put together to deal with this for myself is that caring for her and making difficult decisions to the end, dealing with her suffering and my sadness, is atonement for a great failure in my life where I failed to live up to my responsibilities in caring for an animal. (A concrete, actual time, to clarify; this isn't like, "In a past life I must have done something bad." I know what the bad thing is, and I deserve punishment for it.) It's not a comforting framework, but it's a framework that makes enough sense that I can cope with it.
3. I really love the new FOB album. It's basically my one happy place right now. It's a little difficult, because in my particular circle, the response to the album has been very tepid; a number of people have opted to not pick this one up at all, and those who have are pretty neutral on it. Which is fine! Nobody is at all obligated to like the thing I like! It's just hard to remember that you need to keep quiet about that thing that's making you happy, because putting it forward is pressing it on people who either are avoiding it for their own reasons or just don't care.
4. Need to recommit to: being less negative/whiny; writing daily; exercising and getting back into running training. No idea how I'll make time for the last one with Carden's needs, but I'll have to sort it out.
5. February is always the month of the Big Sadness (lots of family tragedy tied to that month, plus it's dark and gloomy and the weather is uniformly shit). So I probably will need to pull back a bit to keep my first recommitment in part 4.
Also need to shake up my library hold list a little; currently I'm on a book about POW slave labor in WWII and next up is one about abuse of disabled children in institutional care. Need to throw some lighter stuff in there for February.
I’ve stolen the headline of the Locus piece for this post because it makes me feel so weird and official. I am the Cho that has won the Crawford Award! It’s for Spirits Abroad, tied with Stephanie Feldman for her novel The Angel of Losses. (Which sounds super cool, and I can think of several people on my friends list who might be interested in it. If they haven’t already read it!)
I’m unbelievably chuffed to be in a list of winners including Karen Lord, Sofia Samatar and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. And Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy! Imagine Spirits Abroad being on the same list as the Black Jewels books. What more is there to say!
Mirrored from Zen Cho.
Not sure how things will play out at work this week. I would like to focus deeply and submit a patch! Must catch up with email, go to at least 2 meetings. So i could not until late afternoon. By then I may be in too much pain. Then Wed. morning a meeting and then physical therapy. So I really really want to try for this afternoon.
Signal-boosting much appreciated!
So, I spent much of today reading comments and forum posts by Warhammer 40,000 players, for some reason. (This doesn't only apply to them, though; it has a lot to do with Pathfinder and video games as well.)
40k players spend an awful lot of time complaining online, it feels like. But what's interesting to me is what they choose to complain about. Roughly half of the forum-goers I saw were complaining about the company that makes the Warhammer models; how Games Workshop's latest rulebook ruined their fun, invalidated their strategies, and obsoleted their favourite models.
Some of their stories are really sad. "40K" players invest dozens or hundreds of hours in their cherished pastime, sometimes in just a single model, and it shows. Far from looking for an excuse to complain, the most upset players seemed more like betrayed lovers, who had given and given and given and were rewarded with Games Workshop's scorn.
The other half ... were complaining about the first half.
( Read more... )
I don't know where I'm going with this. It's late, and I'm tired and rambly.
I just feel like, the less inequality there is between players and game publishers -- and between the players and each other -- the less fighting and arguing there seems to be, and the more creative freedom there is.
I like the Tau model collection I'm building, but I feel more at home with game players and companies which treat me with respect.
You can view the YouTube recording (sorry, no transcript), or check out the slides!
I had great food, 3 different really good hotels, nice people all around, got to see a little of the library, strange experience today of scootering around downtown Salt Lake City and, yay, went to hear an organ recital in the Tabernacle, which was truly great. Mormons weirded me out. I went into the geneology building.
Actually just crossing the street from the temple plaza to the geneology building was weird and hilarious and a good silly story. I was facing the building across a wide, completely empty street at a crosswalk and red light and don't walk sign. The lights on either side a block away were red and no cars were even visible. Across the street from me was a lineup of mormons with name tags, ladies in skirts and like big hair, and men in suits with flowers in buttonholes. It was as if they were in 50s shop windows. They were all staring at me like i was from Mars but with big smiles. I have to say my heart quailed as I realized I was about to jaywalk or jayscoot in front of these people. Do Mormons do a citizens arrest? So, I went across and they all burst into nervous laughter. I went to the median and thought perhaps we could leave it at that, but no, it had to be done right so I just kept going. We grinned at each other wildly. ONe of them stepped aside and made a remark, something like "Well, uh oh, you might just block our way or something!" (Which was weird because.... i am one person and they were like 10 and they were blocking the crosswalk ramp) False joviality! I laughed lightly while grinning (and considered dramtically taking off my hat to reveal troll doll crest; rejected as the right moment had passed before I thought of it, plus, not actually there to troll mormons, just wanted to cross street, so, unworthy) and went on to admire the Pioneer Cabin to collect myself (rattled!) and hack its portal(s).
Then peeked into the geneology place. A large imposing building with very ugly art inside. The greeters were perturbed but came at me with smiles and nametags. Sister something explained that I could go to watch a video then go to the computers and people would help me. I said I was pretty experienced in doing that kind of research and familiar with how to do geneology stuff online and what i wanted to know was what paper archives they have and what access people can have to them because I like history. She did not know but after some fumbling said that there were books and papers and things on other floors but would have to ask around. I didn't have time to stay so thanked her and went off to the GLORIOUS organ music.
Gershwin on an organ, meh. "Southern Song" ok, noted the blue note accurately done (impressive) but this compounded feeling of cultural appropriation/ruining done by Gershwin. and yet it was quite beautiful and dreamy. BUT. Toccata and fugue(s) A PLUS WOULD FUGUE AGAIN. holy shit! So great. The organist did a demo of the acoustics by dropping a pin 3 times onto the table and then a nail and then tearing a newspaper. My observation of the pin drop was that the pins were dropped onto a hollow wooden sounding box type of thing on top of the table. That is not quite cheating, it is fine, but, it was implied that they were just dropped onto the table...... Kind of cheating really. Wondered what the hell. Immense wealth of odd religious cult displayed. What if someone like, busted me for playing ingress in t heir plaza? What would it be like to flat out own like 4 city blocks for the your monumental architecture of your Thing, whatever it is? What even is their thing, wtf? I think my knowledge of mormons goes like this: Sherlock Holmes story. Pat Califia complaining about childhood. Abuse scandals. They wear particular underwear (garments). Feminist Mormon Housewives group blog (which was great when i was reading it). Oh, also, impression that it is odd, but mostly harmless, to think if you record everyone's family tree then you get their souls in your heaven. You know, weird, but, shrug....
Back in SF feeling the vast weight of wondering if Mormons will get me lifted off my shoulders.
Much more to say but must sleep. Must blog about things like, the movie itself, my amazing breakfasts, all the nice things about the hotels, mountains, things I wish I had gotten to do, the library, etc. etc. also ada's school musical which, highlight of everything, was great.
Actually thinking about it I'm not sure what reaction I DO want, though; it's not like I want people to stare blankly at me, or give bullshit affirmations. I guess I just want whoever I talk to go to "You are absolutely right, about everything, totally, good job."
Which is unlikely.
What a productive and self-actualizing post this has been.
(comments off because ah-ah-ahhh, this is talking about my feelings, and I swear to god if anyone argues with me/corrects me/asks for an explanation or justification, I will lose my shit.]
Over the last year, I finally joined the “listening to podcasts” bandwagon. It turns out that, like everyone else, I need a commute to up my podcast listening. My ‘commute’ is actually about 2km of walking around my suburb dropping off and picking up kids, but whatever.
Some of my regular podcasts:
Slate Money with Felix Salmon, Cathy O’Neil and Jordan Weissmann (and occasional guests). High finance and business, with occasional forays into gossip from finance journalism (Felix and Jordan) and quant-land (Cathy).
Sample episodes: The Davos Edition with Felix bringing gossip from the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos and The “Smoking Up Behind the Bleachers” Edition talking about the creation of Big Weed and also Taylor Swift not streaming on Spotify. (Clearly, I tend to find finance less interesting than business.)
NPR Planet Money. I find NPR/This American Life house production style somehow strange, it’s really unlike, say, the ABC (Australian version) to the point where I have trouble with, say, 99% Invisible seeming a bit fake or overly polished. But Planet Money avoids the uncanny valley of radio, and apparently money is my thing as a podcast listener.
Sample episodes: Bell Wars about the multi-decade feud between the world’s two handbell manufacturers and We’re Short America in which they continue a tradition of making risky investments, dig up $400 or so and short the S&P 500 for educational purposes.
Galactic Suburbia with Tansy, Alex and Alisa talking speculative fiction and related media for about an hour and a half at a time. They have a weak spot in talking about the politics of speculative fiction because they’re often unwilling to name names (“sometimes bad things happen and I think we can agree that less bad things… would… generally speaking be… better”). Their strength is “culture consumed”: their informal reviews of what they’ve been reading and watching. They also do spoileriffic episodes when they talk about things they’ve all watched/read in huge detail.
Sample episodes: with a typical episode lasting ninety to one hundred and twenty minutes, and no formal scripting, episodes tend to be more variable. But a couple I’ve enjoyed most were Hugo Nominations 2014 and Episode 97: the Veronica Mars movie, which is quite a compliment when I’ve never seen any Veronica Mars, including the movie.
Law Report with Damien Carrick. This is an ABC radio show syndicated as a podcast, dealing with Australian legal issues or Australian perspectives on international legal issues.
Sample episodes: Lex Wotton speaks out about the death of Mulrunji and policing on Palm Island, after having his gag upheld for several years by the High Court. Very important for people interested in human rights in Australia. The problem with ‘Mr Big’ confessions, about the policing technique in which people are enticed to confess crimes to undercover police in the belief they are speaking with a senior crime figure.
Chat 10 Looks 3 with Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales. Gossip, literature and cooking with two very senior Australian women journalists. Sadly, they’ve only recorded five episodes and haven’t committed to doing any more ever.
Sample episodes: Episode 1 with Sales singing show tunes and discussion of the gendered idea of the “art monster” (the person consumed by art and cared for by a wife-cum-mother in every respect) and Episode 5 with Christmas baking and Leigh Sales’s total and complete disinterest in the beautiful birds that live in her yard.
Astronomy Cast with Fraser Cain and Dr. Pamela Gay. They do a little too much of the faux-clueless-host-listener-standin for me (although at least gender-wise it’s Fraser doing it and not Pamela), but, it’s friendly and high quality and ASTRONOMY. Right now they’re doing a series on living women astronomers, who, as usual, aren’t as well known as living men astronomers when their work is equally as good.
Sample episodes: Ep. 353: Seasons on Saturn pretty much single-handedly increased my interest in planetary astronomy to about the size of Saturn, and Ep. 360: Modern Women: Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a very interesting story featuring neutron stars, non-aggressive responses to institutional sexism (which I don’t think are better to be clear, but doesn’t mean Bell Burnell shouldn’t be heard), and male astronomers taking damage to their careers challenging institutional sexism. DID I MENTION NEUTRON STARS?
Maybe it was changes in the weather or something, but yesterday our whole household had a case of the winter doldrums... just felt exhausted all day long, and napped quite a bit. Despite that, I did fall asleep at a reasonable hour last night and woke up pretty well today.
The Daily Report
Well, I've been spending a lot of time this month working on developing a fantasy novel with the intention of writing it over the course of the year. I first had the idea back in December, but I sat on it until we were a week or so into the new year so I could be sure that the time commitment would be worth it. Since I was still interested in the idea, it seemed like it would be the case.
Now here we are a few weeks later, and... I'm kind of lukewarm on the idea. I'm just not feeling it, not to the extent that I want to dedicate the following 11 months to it when I have so many other things I'm more excited about. Maybe I'll work on writing more short story length fantasy adventure fiction, but I'm just not into this epic-scale project with epic-level enthusiasm.
The epic fantasy story isn't the only thing I had planned on doing with my year, of course, and rather than immediately casting around for another year-long project to take its place, I think I'm just going to see how my enthusiasm shakes out if I sort of let it distribute itself.
As I mentioned last week, I've been circulating more poetry submissions now that I'm getting used to the waiting game. Yesterday I got a positive response on one... not an acceptance, but a hold notice. So I have one tentative acceptance right now and one wait and see. Between that and some positive notices that my published work received over the weekend, I'm feeling pretty good.
Earlier last week, I took my first published poem, "Institutional Memory", and put it up on Medium so that it could be read for free. Over the weekend, I made the decision to move it to Fantasy In Miniature, since I'm going to be reviving that site this week anyway, with new stories posted Tuesday and Thursday (the days that MU doesn't update). Any poem I publish that broadly fits the "very short fiction, usually speculative" mission of Fantasy In Miniature will also go there, once the rights are free.
Plans For Today
Monday is my "ducks in a row" day. Most of the past few weeks, I've also found myself engaging in little scribbles to sort of wake up my creative mind Monday morning... the sorts of things that become flash fiction or poetry. It's not that I don't do these things the rest of the week, it's just a handy way to jumpstart things.
In the afternoon, I'm going to be working on today's chapter of Tales of MU. I have to do a bit more work than I normally would care to do on the day of publication, but I'm satisfied enough with the foundation to be confident I can pull it off.
Ways To Give:
Anon linked to a fundraiser for Natalie, who is fighting Hodgkin's Lymphoma and while her prognosis is good, she needs help to cover medical costs and living expenses during her recovery. You can read more and help Natalie out here.
notalwaysweak linked to a gofundme for surpassingly and darklightshades, who are struggling to cover loss of income while surpassingly is unable to work due to hospitalization. You can read more here, including links to their Patreons, or support them directly here.
capeandcowl linked to a fundraiser for Cameron and Justina, who are struggling to cover medical bills since Cameron's December diagnosis of stage-4 Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. You can read more and help them raise the funds they need here.
starlady linked to a fundraiser for SF author Katherine Kerr, who needs to hire a full-time caregiver for her husband, who is suffering from dementia. The fundraiser has reached its original goal to pay for a caregiver for long enough for Katherine to complete her latest book, but additional donations for longer-term care are welcome. You can read more and help out here.
starlady also linked to CrossingsCon, a group seeking to put on a convention celebrating Diane Duane's Young Wizard's books in 2016. They already have non-profit status, so donations are 100% tax-deductable, and there are tons of fun perks. You can check out their perks and support the con here.
editrx is still raising funds to keep her small new and used bookstore, Star Cat Books, open for business while she deals with car troubles, illness, and various bills. You can read more and support her fundraising here.
Everlet linked to nyalist, who is looking for a (preferably fannish) roommate in Boston, MA; rent is $700/mo plus utilities (electric and internet). Private room, shared bath, laundry, and five minutes from the T! You can find out more at her Craigslist ad here.
Just For Fun:
jadesfire linked to the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, which in February will be showing a fake that they commissioned alongside genuine masterpieces, inviting visitors to guess which is which. If you're in the area, check it out!
And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form or via email at copperbadge at gmail dot com. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!).
(And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)