ETA: It was also the year that Terry Brooks cut the interesting parts out of Lord of the Rings and created not only a bestseller but a template for the infinite replication of fantasy product. Anus mirabilis, or something.
"Salute the last, and everlasting day,
Joy at the uprising of this Sun, and Son,
Ye whose true tears, or tribulation
Have purely wash'd, or burnt your drossy clay. [...]"
-- John Donne (b. 1573-01-22, d. 1631-03-31), "Ascension"
[A joyous holiday to everyone celebrating the Feast of the Ascension today!]
If you've missed them, the long arc of the Queen's Thief series features the three warring alt!Grecian kingdoms of Sounis, Eddis and Attolia getting their act together to avoid being absorbed by an alt!Babylonian empire. The books are heavy on well-researched worldbuilding, political complexity, and third-act twists; they are light on divine influence, though the gods do have a plan and they would rather like the protagonists to stop whining about it. Books include:
The Thief: A magus, his two apprentices, a soldier and a thief go on a life-changing field trip to steal a divine king-making relic, and Megan Whalen Turner shows off her unreliable first-person narration.
The Queen of Attolia: All three kingdoms start a slapfight with each other while the series protagonist sulks in his room, except when he's stealing important political figures from other kingdoms. Megan Whalen Turner would like you to know she can dance deftly around significant information just as easily in omniscient third as she can in first.
The King of Attolia: A sweet, honest guardsman punches his king in the face, and proceeds to regret every single one of his life choices. Megan Whalen Turner's like "look, this time I'm using limited third and telling you EXACTLY what my protagonist thinks and believes at any given time, it's not MY fault he only knows like 20% of what's actually going on."
A Conspiracy of Kings: The heir to the kingdom of Sounis is like "I COULD sort out this civil war by becoming king OR I could do hard labor for the rest of my life and honestly the latter sounds more appealing?" Megan Whalen Turner returns to first person but is too busy examining questions of ethics around violence in the political sphere to put all that much effort into setting up twists.
( This is the part that's spoilery for the first four books )
Anyway, yesterday I finally got to the point where I could read the just-published new book, Thick as Thieves. ( So this is the part that's spoilery for Thick as Thieves. )
I know I didn't kill the eggs because when I looked in very quietly a month later I saw baby birds. But if I wasn't quiet enough the birds would pull back in the nest and hide, so when I didn't see birds for a while I wasn't sure if they had fledged or not.
I have a FLIR IR camera that snaps onto my iPhone. I hadn't used it for a while; it's a bit bulky and clunky and while it's amusing to see the world in false color based on the temperatures of things (and window glass reflects IR like a mirror, which is kind of weird), it's not so fascinating that I want to do it all the time. But Kip pointed out that it would surely work to tell if the nest was really empty or if the baby birds were just hiding. So I pulled it out, charged it up, and snapped it on the phone, and verified that the nest was empty. I put on gloves, because birds nests can host some really bitey insect life, and removed the nest. Carolina wrens nests are lots of twigs and dry grass and dried out Spanish moss and the like--really loosely packed together with a rounded spot in the middle for the eggs.
While I was at it, I used the FLIR to check if there were any babies hiding in the robin's nest in the crook of the downspout by the bathroom window. I don't know why the robins like that particular downspout, but they've built a nest on it three years running. The nest was cold, so I got out my folding ladder, unfolded it to its fullest extension, and took the nest down. Then I took a bowl of water and a scrub brush up the ladder and cleaned the mud off the downspout and the side of the house. Robins nests are like green pottery, if potters also used a lot of grass. They are little horizontal bowls of dried mud with straw embedded in it.
I set the two nests side by side on the grass and took a picture.
With the rest of my day I finished making the shelf for Kip's weights. I put in some nice touches (if I do say so myself) like a cutting a low arch in each of the 2x4s holding up the middle and top shelves, so that there would be a bit more room for Kip to reach in and set his heavier weights in there. My workshop is pretty nicely set up now: the bandsaw was great for cutting the arches, the Shopsmith in Drill press configuration worked for drum sanding the arches and the cut edges of the plywood--I could use a few more of the good bar clamps, but aside from that I'm happy with it.
I have a picture of that also.
I am tired and my back hurts but it is worth it to have all those weights off the rumpus room floor. I have been meaning to do this for at least two years, so it's good to finally have it dealt with.
Okay -- it isn't by any means perfect, but so far it's the best solution I've come up with.
The only thing I miss, in moving from LiveJournal to Dreamwidth, is the native support for cross-posting from here to FB. So for the past couple of months I've been exploring alternatives. The one I've been using was dlvr.it, as described here -- that's adequate, and makes it fairly easy to post links on FB that point to your posts here.
But the thing is, I don't love that, because not many people actually click through those links. And while I may not love FB, I do have a lot more friends there than on Dreamwidth, so I'd like to be able to actually cross-post, not just link.
For a while, I had thought that the answer was Zapier, and I put in a lot of work getting a true cross-post solution working there. But Zapier has one critical flaw: the approach I'm using for cross-posting requires a feature that only exists in their paid version, and Zapier is insanely expensive. (Like, $20/month.) It's just not worth that kind of money. (Yes, I talked to them about it; they brushed me off and refused to even contemplate a more reasonably-priced tier.) So I gave up and went back to dlvr.it.
So I've spent a little time in the workday cracks today taking the solution I'd built for Zapier and adjusting it for IFTTT. The experience with IFTTT is a bit different from that of Zapier -- a bit less powerful (in particular, their RSS reader doesn't pick up your DW tags, which Zapier did), but with a much better built-in IDE.
I think that's now working adequately -- it's not The One True Solution, but it mostly works. I've published it as a public Applet on IFTTT; feel free to pick it up and use it. You give it the URL of your Dreamwidth RSS feed, and you need to connect Facebook to IFTTT; once you have that, it should, in theory, quietly check your RSS feed every 15 minutes or so, and cross-post new entries to your Facebook wall. It takes each DW post, translates it into something that looks okay on Facebook (basically, it back-translates the HTML to something vaguely like Markdown), and includes the link to the original DW post at the bottom.
Please pass word on to anybody who might care, and tell me about problems. (Hopefully, I can fix any problems -- once I published, IFTTT gave me dire warnings that I could no longer alter my triggers or actions; hopefully I can still edit the critical filter in the middle.)
Continues from part 1 and part 2.
Nathaniel is married to Clara, to whom he is utterly devoted. They are functional friends, lovers, and partners, with perhaps a more equitable relationship than other couples of his time. He actually is inclined to let her run the show, as the more strident personality, though her power is unofficial and based off of his feelings for her. Notably, she is three years older than him.
Aidan loves Diana, despite their meeting under the problematic mistress-slave dynamic. She is very much the dominant partner with all the power in the relationship, an issue they have to navigate. In fact, their relationship is specifically a flipping of the expected gender roles of the hetero dynamic, where he takes on the traditionally feminine role and she the masculine one. She is ten years older than him.
Tom falls for Alice, a girl he meets in the course of unraveling a mystery they’re both connected to. He is off a lower social class than she is, which makes forming a relationship difficult, and he feels he has no right to presume to her affections. He is a few years older than her.
Robin I plan to eventually get together with Marian, the canonical love interest for the legendary character. In his past, he dates and sleeps around a great deal, often choosing so-called “high value” partners such as models and famous people, as an outward symbol of status. He’s hooked up with other men, though probably never dated one more than extremely casually. Before finally connecting him with Marian, I would have him get together with other characters in his typical way before settling the two of them together. The idea of him committing to, and growing in order to deserve, a serious romantic relationship would be part of his character journey.
Justin is a ladies’ man in a similar vein to Robin. A confirmed bachelor, he is committed to having fun above all else and will likely never settle down. He presents himself honestly and is happy to make casual connections but is not out to deceive, hurt, or use anyone. He also has a handful of experiences with men in his past, mostly from his days at Harrow and a few after.
Nathaniel is the most normatively masculine, followed by Tom. Aidan is certainly the least.
Relationship with female superiors:
Being able to defer to women is a major feature I include in portrayals of this kind of man.
Both Tom and Nathaniel have female mentor figures. Tom learned his craft from his mother, and her part in the mystery he stumbles upon drives him to investigate it. Nathaniel started out modeling himself on the Colonel, a very traditionally masculine man, but as the Hawking stories go on, he comes to focus more on learning from, and winning the approval of, his aunt instead. He listens to her expertise, follows her orders, and respects her authority.
Though not a mentor per se, Aidan follows and defers on most matters to his sister Morna. He acknowledges she is the superior intellect and is inclined to trust her judgment above his own. He treats her as if she had some sort of seniority, even though he is in fact four years older than her. Also in living as a slave in a matriarchy, he is accustomed to most women having some real power over him.
Robin has no “senior” woman in his life whom he is emulating or deferring to. He is again the most normatively masculine of my male protagonists.
The only way this is relevant for Justin is that he will confess to being intimidated by Mrs. Hawking. If nothing else, he respects her enough to fear her.
Relationships with female peers:
Strongly valuing female friendship and connection and respecting the strength and expertise of women is another intrinsic quality of this kind of male character.
Nathaniel’s friendship with Mary is one of the most important connections of his life. He does due to socialization sometimes slip back into patriarchal assumptions, but he is working to unlearn this. He does seriously respect her abilities and is interested in her as a person.
Similarly, Aidan’s closest relationship, perhaps even more so than the one with Diana, is with his sister Morna. Their shared experience of conquest and slavery has unbreakably bonded them, and he believes in her brilliance and capability above all else.
Tom has spent his life working in a female-dominated industry and it taught him enormous respect for women. One of his special skills is his ability to listen to and understand the world of women in a way other men of his time and place do not, making him trustworthy to them.
Robin, for all the effort he puts into chasing them down as sexual partners, also has real female friendships. His best friend is Scarlet, whom he respects enormously as an intellect, enough that he has given her enormous professional opportunities. He does, however, impose on her to keep his grandiose promises and get him out of trouble, but I tend to this is more about his own self-centeredness than because she is a woman.
Making progress here, but the last test still wasn't quite right.
It turns out that the combination of IFTTT and Facebook is legendarily persickety when it comes to newlines -- you have to use a magic incantation involving:
- br tags
- nbsp tags
All this, despite Facebook not actually accepting HTML. Sigh, but I think it can be overcome.
Chips and Trooper are now allowed to run loose, though they still have their own cages to retreat into. Gramma Tala and Endor are still there, but I got word that Endor is being adopted!
A tabby cat named Lunar is determined to get through any closed door. He ran downstairs at least four times. Cats aren't supposed to be allowed loose in the basement. Among other things, the intake room is down there, with cats who still haven't been checked for health.
Glee is still there, which surprised me. She's a very cute cat and extremely friendly.
I think I've mentioned Mozart (in the photo) before. He was brought up into the main room. He's miserable-looking but very nice. It took several tries for me to get a picture of him because he'd come right up to my phone while I was trying to photograph him. Unfortunately, other cats were picking fights with him, maybe because he looks scruffy. He's still eating a lot and trying to get up to a proper weight. That may help.
The New Orleans mayor is here to remind us that no one is free until everyone is free
A statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is lowered to a truck for removal Friday, May 19, 2017, from Lee Circle in New Orleans. The city council voted to remove the monument and three other Confederate and white supremacist monuments in Dec. 2015. An obelisk honoring the militia known as the White League was taken down in April; a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was removed May 11; and a statue of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard was taken down on Wednesday.
The city of New Orleans has been making waves lately. After much debate, New Orleans decided to take down four Confederate monuments from around the city. On Friday (May 19), mayor Mitch Landrieu gave a speech about the decision, just hours before the last monument—depicting general Robert E. Lee—came down.
There’s no denying we’re living in a time of political turmoil, and people worldwide are faced with decisions about how they will act, either in resistance or peace. Still, it is striking how Landrieu chose to stay true to his values, in spite of opposition, and so eloquently explained his choice by detailing the history of the Confederacy and the cult of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy.
New Orleans is making an active effort to rewrite its history to be inclusive. You can watch the full speech and read the full transcript below:
Click headline for article, with video and transcript
I seem to have a room share for Contata. This is a good thing.
I am thinking about my current symptoms. Seems to be allergies/asthma, perhaps with a touch of bronchitis. If the cough pills I took don't settle it down, I'll try the inhaler.
Also thinking about plans for the rest of the week. For the next 3 days, those plans include setting up a Patreon and trying to enter a few hundred eBay listings. Saturday will be housecleaning and a housefilk in late afternoon. Sunday, I've set aside some time to promote the house concert I'm having in July. Then I'll be going to a local house concert in the evening.
Next week: Monday is both Memorial Day and JFK's 100th birthday. I'll probably do more ebay listings. Tuesday, more fundraising. Wednesday, I have end-of-month errands. Thursday, the first, I'll probably have to start shipping out eBay stuff, and see the chiropractor. Friday I have a podiatry visit and a hootenanny.
Saturday or Sunday, the 3rd and 4th, I'm hoping to get to the capitol hill people's fair. The evening of the 3rd I'm volunteering for a Bill Staines concert, my last volunteer effort for June.
For the rest of June up to Contata, my schedule is extremely light. Probably another doctor visit to get shots in my knees. A uke club meeting. Al Franken on his book tour.
So I have a LOT of time to work on my eBay sales and trying to get this Patreon off the ground. I've decided I want to do something slightly different with it. Sort of like one of those record clubs where people choose an option. The basic underlying focus will be daily youtube videos, alternating between filk, folk, songwriting, ukulele, and blues. The Monday to Friday videos will be available to everyone, but the weekend videos will be for patrons only.
I want to avoid copyright issues as much as I can.
I'm thinking "Five Worlds of Music" for a tentative title.
I may make some of the videos in advance and post them later, when I have busy days planned.
Some of the plans: I want to start off with a cover of "Drink Up the River" by Kathy Mar because it's perfect, and timelier than ever.
I want to do one video of not just a single song, but my entire set list for the concert I did in 2015, all played on 4 different 10 string instruments.
The first bonus, for everyone, when I reach a preset goal even with the money I won't be getting from Social Security due to yesterday's surprise, will be a PDF songbook containing nearly all my songs, hopefully with chords and keys. I've been working on that for a while now.
There are a few things I need to get done first, but I'm hoping to have the Patreon up by Friday or Monday.
And that's me.
Now, I'm about a month behind reading everyone else's journals, so that's next.
One is to keep the moisture in.
The other is to keep the damn things from sticking to everything in sight.
I had a heck of a time even getting it off the parchment paper. I tossed them in sugar, so that should help some. They're already pretty dried out, so keeping the moisture in is no longer something to worry about. A little chewy and I should probably have some concern for my fillings, but still quite tasty.
Chore 1: Mounting the stained glass window.
Last summer we commissioned a large stained glass "window" from David Green, a stained glass artist (mostly retired) in Oregon, and drove home with it. I had made a Most Excellent Crate (MEC 1.0 was goddammit a quarter inch too small to have room for window *and* padding, and MEC 2.0 had to be constructed in Dad's garage with Dad breathing down my neck because Dad can handle sharing a house with other people for about a week and we were on day 6) that was sturdy, had handles and was deftly designed into the 4 inches of spare space between the size of the window and the size of the inside of Kip's Prius C which is not a large car. I was rather proud of the MEC.
Mounting the stained glass artwork in our actual window was intimidating--it involved drilling through the mahogany window frame into the 2x6 header above it so I could screw in eye bolts, then using s hooks and chains to suspend the artwork by the 2 metal loops soldered at the top. So it took me quite some time to figure out what I was going to do, buy the hardware--finding a decent chain that was 1 strong and 2 nice looking took quite some time, for example--and I kind of ground to a halt and I set all the hardware on the windowsill but never got around to moving the MEC out of the rumpus room and into the living room to actually unpack it. Among other things, opening the crate would be the moment of truth where we found out if the MEC had actually done its job and got the window home undamaged, and also handling the window is a bit tricky; you have to be very careful how you pick it up and move it around because stained glass windows can destroy themselves under their own weight if you do it wrong.
However Kip and I wanted to have it up before Dad and Jake came, so last week we cleaned up the living room, moved the furniture around to get easy access to the window, and I actually drilled holes in the woodwork and mounted the eye bolts. I hooked up the S hooks and chains and then we took two of Kip's weights (30 lbs each) and hung them off the chains for 24 hours to be sure they would be strong enough to hold the artwork. (The artwork is only about 35 lbs, but I figured if the hardware could hold 60 lbs it could certainly hold 35.). The hardware held up fine, so Kip persuaded one of his co-workers to come over in the afternoon and help--the moving process is safer with 2 people to hold the window and one person to do up the hooks. That went very smoothly except it turned out that the artwork was best positioned in the window if I didn't use the chain--just the S hooks to connect the loops on the artwork with the eye bolts in the window frame. So okay, I have some chandelier chain if anyone wants it. Going cheap, because I don't think I can return it.
The artwork looks fantastic, by the way. I have several pictures under different lighting conditions. The down side is that now the living room has a lot less privacy. You can't really see through the artwork because even where the glass is clear it's still wavy. That was what we wanted; I hate feeling like people can watch me at night. But the paper shades we'd been using as window curtains don't provide full coverage anymore. We had to take one down to put up the artwork, and the artwork is a little narrower than that shade was so there's about a six inch gap.
Chore 2 arranging for new blinds
However we'd been planning to get nice wooden blinds for the windows. Which I'd also been putting off, because we didn't want to do that until we had the artwork up. So yesterday I called a couple of places about coming to give us an estimate. One place got right back to me, the other hasn't, even though I called again today. I guess they are not very interested in our business, so I'll pick another place and give them a call.
Chore 3 getting new bulbs
Last week I ordered a bunch of puck lights (GX53 bulbs) for our under cabinet lights because we'd had several lights burn out and I was out of the dozen spare bulbs I'd bought when I got the under cabinet lighting in the first place. I actually called the company to order more because I couldn't find them at the local hardware store, and I was quite unhappy when they told me they didn't make them anymore, because I thought I was going to have to replace all the fixtures. However it turned out GX53 is a type of bulb that several companies make, so I went online and ordered a set of four LED GX53s from Amazon. The LED bulbs arrived yesterday, and I replaced the 2 burnt out bulbs and they switch on immediately, (the CFLs have that fluorescent second where you wonder if the light switch is working) and they are quite a bit brighter (but their lighting pattern isn't as even) and they don't get as warm, so win. I ordered another set of four.
Chore 4 (cluster)
Yesterday I also did a bunch of dishes, got a new toilet seat for one of the toilets and put it on, scrubbed the bathtub and the bathroom sink, and put our pull-down sprayer attachment for our kitchen sink in several bowls of vinegar until it would spray properly again.
Chore 5 making a rack for Kip's weights
Today I did library music in the morning, then Skyped with Dad to work on Dutch, and then I designed a rack for Kip's weightlifting weights, bought wood for it and cut out most of the pieces. Kip's weights right now take up a fair amount of floor space and I think I want that floor space back and the rack is the easiest way to make that happen. It will be clunky and ugly, made out of 2 x 4s and re-used plywood from MEC 1.0. (MEC 2.0 may become a spare worktable top; I haven't decided). But the parts are cheap and I think I'll be able to finish it in a couple of days.
And for the Resistance I went to the Truth or Trump demonstration on Friday, phone banked on Sunday for Julie Byrd Ashworth for Tennessee House of Representatives, and I have signed up to canvass for John Ossof for GA-06 2 weekends from now.