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Sunday, June 26th, 2016 17:12
Offered the house to a potential housemate. Haven't heard from her since Tuesday.

Uggggggggggghhhhh. I don't want to backpedal and offer to someone else or scramble, but I don't want to pay the whole rent myself, either.
Sunday, June 26th, 2016 16:09
Monday: Attended poorly attended meeting of the Robotics and Autonomous Systems group. Made particular note of the non-attendance of the group member who was instrumental in organising the meeting. Met with minion who is producing documentation for the Lego Rovers Android app. Realised I should try to get the app website live before entering a public engagement competition that TPTB want me to enter.

Tuesday: Attended a surprisingly poor talk from an experienced academic.

Wednesday: Made post-Cheltenham inspired changes to Lego Rovers Android app. Emailed screenshots to minion. Went to lunch with B.

Thursday: Met with marketing about creating a banner for the Lego Rovers and was pleasantly impressed with them. Attended an extremely interesting talk from Mykel Kochenderfer on how POMDPs (a jargon term I introduce here entirely because I like the way it trips off the tongue when pronounced pom-dee-pee (as it generally is)) are forming the basis of new mid-air collision avoidance software in aircraft. Voted. Went to bed after the Newcastle count was in because I figured I could see which way this was going and wanted to do some work on Friday. B waited up until the London votes started coming in, somehow kidding himself that these meant Remain would win.

Friday: Despite getting plenty of sleep, completely failed to do any work. Walked with G to the hairdressers for us both to get a hair-cut during which she explained (without apparent irony) how much she likes the weather in Manchester.

Saturday: Volunteered at Parkrun and enjoyed watching a very enthusiastic first timer crossing the line in great excitement after 45 minutes of running. G. went to a sleepover, so I made brownies and we watched Deadpool. B thought G should watch it, I think G would find it embarrassing and would disapprove of the swearing.

Sunday: B. away to a thesis defence in Barcelona, though there was a nasty moment at the airport, I gather, where it looked like they couldn't find him on the system and he eventually had to pay an extra 15 euros over the phone to the plane company.
Sunday, June 26th, 2016 11:37
God I have so many things to do this week that are gross, urgent, complicated, or a combination of all three.

And Thursday is the last day to submit my novella to that venue that will def reject it because it doesn't even really fit their criteria! I was hoping to spruce up the current draft before I do that. Good luck getting that done on top of packing.

Probably the grossest task, that I would legit pay someone to take care of, is getting my current roommate to get her fucking shit together re: the money I owe her for bills. Like, this is a thing where I, someone who has every legitimate cause to hate her guts, owe her money, I'm moving to a location unknown to her, and I'm not even sure she really knows my last name or previous address since we signed separate leases. I could easily move, block her number on my phone, and never deal with the fact that I owe her a not insignificant amount of money.

I'm generally more on top of bills (and let me tell you, LESSON LEARNED from this apartment as well) but my roommate has also been renting for ages, and she seemed to have her shit together, and somehow we've ended up in a situation where we haven't squared away the bills for the entire 12 months we lived together. Which is UNACCEPTABLE when living with a stranger, for me. But because she was paying the bulk of the bills (the cable and internet are in her name, plus occasional utilities) I figured, it's her interest to get her money back, so who am I to push? 6 months ago we tried to settle the bills up to that point, I did all the prep, and then it never went anywhere because she kept saying she was busy. Again, I let it slide because I didn't want a fight when she was the one who was owed money anyway.

Now, normally, utility bills (most of which I've paid) balance out with the cable/internet anyway (if not exceed it) but in this apartment the utility bills are abnormally low (like, probably 60% of my previous apartment), so it really hasn't balanced out.

Again, I could just disappear, but aside from not being the kind of person who'd do that, I honestly just don't want to deal with the possibility of this woman ever being in my life again, so I NEED to just settle this and be fucking DONE.

This means I have to initiate a conversation with her about this, and I LOATHE to do that because again, I honestly just don't want to deal with her if I don't have to, and I have this creeping feeling based on previous experience that she'll spring something on me last second if I give her the chance.

After I initiate that conversation I also need to hold her hand through: no, we can't do this on the last day I'm here (because I'll be working super late the day before the move and then getting up at 6am to move), and yes she has to make time to sit with me go over the numbers because every roommate I've ever had - even the ones who didn't do the awful shit she's done - were TERRIBLE at splitting bills (DO NOT ASK ME why this is such a rare skill, I have dyscalculia ffs!) and I need to go over her math before I agree to anything.

The WORST WORST WORST case scenario is that I'll spend the whole week having gross, uncomfortable, awkward, angry-making conversations with her (on top of packing and the billion other things I need to do) and end up with nothing because she'll keep postponing going over the numbers. In that case I've decided I'll do my own rough estimate of what I owe her and just leave her money based on that. (The dilemma - do I leave her cash which is untraceable or a check which has my parents' address on it?). I mean even with the amount I actually owe she could never take me to court, if she ever gets her shit together and decides I owe her an extra 50$ she's welcome to try and contact me I guess.

(If you're curious, this is the girl who went behind my back and told our landlady that I was The Worst Tenant and convinced her to not sign a lease extension with me, but so far hasn't found anyone to replace me so she'll be paying my share of the rent for at least a month. I'm sure she'll find someone soon, because the apartment really is pretty great, but honestly wish her THE BEST OF LUCK finding a random stranger who'll be quieter, cleaner and more accommodating than I was. Like, from years of experience in this neighborhood, WOW is that not going to be an easy task.)

Anyway, on top of that I need to call the gas company because they're saying we owe them money and I was in charge of paying, so I definitely want to have that settled, I need to find the charger for my laptop because it's about to become my primary computer (or else buy a new charger which will not be cheap :/), hound the fucking clinic where I'm supposed to do my physical therapy because they aren't getting back to me, compile a record of the bills I've paid this year (which means going over multiple websites/credit cards), PACK, and of yeah, continue apartment hunting since I don't actually have a permanent place to live yet...

Ugh. I suppose I should be grateful that I've gotten my thesis out of the way, and that it's only 6 days of feeling overwhelmed with stress instead of an entire month.

Let me tell you the moment I'm looking forward to the most, the place of serenity I just need to be in already: this Friday, afternoon, all my shit is packed up/moved/where it's supposed to go, and I start watching the second season of Marco Polo on netflix and just, IDK, eat junk food and breathe for a while. This week will be all about closing my eyes and imagining that moment, I guess.
Sunday, June 26th, 2016 01:18
1. Today was the 4th of July fireworks show at Santa Monica College (they always have it the weekend before 4th of July weekend) and I usually miss seeing them since I'm just getting off work then, but they must have started a little later this year because I got home in time to see them.

2. I love kitties who love scritches!

Saturday, June 25th, 2016 19:33
So I have this constant guilt about not writing in the evenings, even though generally writing is my day job and then I tend to also write on my commute.

So when I started writing Fun Novella in the evenings, it felt good, because I was writing, even if it wasn't dissertation. But then I got to a part of the novella that was more challenging--ie the sex scene, so much more difficult to write than comedy; comedy I can do, I really enjoy comedy--

Tangent. The first comedy story I remember writing was, let's face it, pretty cliche, but it was so much fun. It was called... Brad the Skier or something? It was set during/after the Olympics were here...must have been after. Olympics were here when I was in grade one, I'm pretty sure I wrote this in grade six. It was about a Jamaican guy who accidentally (??) becomes a gold-medalist ski jumper because he's clumsy and trips and falls skis-first down the ski jump. So like--Cool Runnings, but with more slapstick. I don't remember when Cool Runnings came out, but I saw it when it did, maybe even in the theatres, so I wouldn't be shocked to discover that was the inspiration.

Tangent to the tangent--how many Jamaicans out there can possibly be named Brad? Seriously. But that was his name.

Anyway, so my mom either helped me write or gave me a critique of the writing, and gave me advice such as using exaggeration/hyperbole, the rule of three (especially important in jokes), and of course attention to detail; it's detail that makes comedy, I think. And I remember that. Huh. Whaddaya know.

I submitted that story to the local daily, which had a section by/for kids; didn't hear back for ages and assumed they didn't take it. Only to find out years later, in grade eight, that they'd published it then! Jeez, what kind of backlog were they dealing with? Anyway, by then I was...fourteen? And thus entirely embarrassed about something I'd written when I was eleven, except also proud at the same time, so did not know what to do with myself.

And that is the end of the tangent. What was I talking about?

Oh yes, you know what they say, death is easy, comedy is hard. And it's true to an extent because certainly writing angst also usually goes well for me, except that there's always a temptation to overdo it; although I enjoy writing comedy and amuse myself, I think it's harder to tell if it's landing for anybody else. But whoever came up with that aphorism didn't include: writing erotica is hard! For me. I dunno. People who write maxims should obviously have me in mind, not some general principle.

Well, tonally, it can be difficult to shift from vaguely embarrassing shenanigans to breathless passion. But I am trying. Except, to get back to my very first original point, I haven't been writing in the evenings and even on the bus I've been writing diss instead of Fun Novella. Which is good because I am so behind on the diss it isn't even funny--no comedy there--but it means that Fun Novella has stalled and it makes me feel sad because I worry that I have no sticktoitiveness and I will never finish anything, when in fact the opposite is true because the very thing preventing me from working on Fun Novella is my dissertation sticktoitiveness!

So: brains.

In conclusion, today I took L to IKEA to shop for a toddler bed. He is outgrowing his playard/crib! Advice I read online suggests 18 months is the lowest end of the Big Kid Bed Switch continuum, which he is. He sleeps on a cot at school for naptime; I haven't heard that he rolls out of it. IKEA has these extendable beds that you can start only about four feet long and then convert eventually into a full twin. That's what I'm considering right now (no purchases yet). The biggest reason to get a toddler bed should not be "because IKEA's duvet covers for kids look SO CUTE." And yet here we are. L had a great time pretending to sleep on all the beds so that I could take pictures. Adorbs. I shall try to upload more photos soon.

L test-sleeping an IKEA bed (if the embed works) )
Saturday, June 25th, 2016 21:32
most of my rlist is in transit today, myself included. not much to read to keep myself occupied. so instead I post.

ready to be home and horizontal, but haven't crashed yet. hoping it holds off until I'm in bed.
Saturday, June 25th, 2016 12:17
I had just started my first programming class. It was 1997 and I was in first year engineering. We were being taught Turbo Pascal. I didn't have my own computer -- I had no money for anything beyond the bare necessities of life in those days. My boyfriend did have a computer, and he went away for a long weekend, leaving me with his computer. When he got back, I showed him the mastermind game I had made while he was away. It had only rudimentary graphics, and all it did was make a code and mark your guesses, but it worked!

"How did you figure out how to do that?"

"I read the help," I answered.

"You learned to program by READING THE HELP??"

Borland had really great help docs :)

Also, I am struck (yet again) by how much I was helped by those who had a more secure position in life than I did. Him sharing his computer with me was a big help in me eventually going into programming.

Saturday, June 25th, 2016 14:33

Matryoshka, the Boss and a couple of other academics organised a Dagstuhl Workshop on "Engineering Moral Agents" in early June. I've written about Dagstuhl several times before so I won't re-iterate my descriptions of the place.

This workshop had quite a distinct feel to it, I suspect because they had managed to invite a fairly hefty number of philosophers to counter-balance the computer scientists. This had a number of interesting side effects. Philosophers love discussing almost anything in depth and at length. By the end of the second day we had had (unsurprisingly) a long discussion about the EU Referendum with a particular emphasis on a game theoretic account of how the EU should behave as a "rational actor" in the event of Brexit; what did we mean by a robot; was my dishwasher autonomous (given it can "choose" to refuse to wash the dishes if it thinks there is a danger of a flood); and whether Religion and Philosophy should be taught as part of the same subject in schools - to be honest it felt a little like a certain portrayal of undergraduate life which I felt I rarely experienced (most of the in depth conversations I recall from my undergraduate days were about things like whether sex had any place being mentioned in Doctor Who novels).

The Wednesday afternoon excursion was put to a popular vote revealing a distinct lack of enthusiasm for Trier in the rain, and a rather more surprising lack of enthusiasm for the Town that Exists to Sell Wine to Tourists. On the Wednesday morning we split into two working groups one, dominated by philosophers, ambitiously decided they were going to formalise ethical reasoning the other (containing, interestingly, all the women at the workshop plus a few others, including our token doom-sayer*) wanted to discuss the implementation of ethics. A side effect of this was that each group decided to organise its own walking tour into the German forest. I somehow ended up in charge of ours, I think because I had been to the local lake twice before and so, at least in theory, had some idea of the way there. I also went to reception and got them to give me a map and directions to supplement our numerous mobile phones. I'm sure you've be pleased to know that not only did I not loose any computer scientists or philosophers in the German forest, but even managed to find an extra computer scientist (from the planar graph workshop that was also taking place), her husband and baby and conduct them safely back to the schloss.

Matryoshka, the Boss and I have already submitted one paper as a result of the Dagstuhl (trying to model reposting behaviour across different social media services, as part of Matryoshka's agenda to fix the internet). Admittedly we decided to do this because I had already decided to attend the relevant workshop so it seemed like a good idea to at least submit a paper to it. Our working group is also putting together a position paper covering our discussions. Matryoshka and I were a little sceptical about this having experienced "we must publish our working group discussions" before, however on this occasion people are actually writing stuff, so it looks more hopeful. I agreed to start curating a set of examples of interesting ethical dilemmas (or at least cases where the ethical reasoning required wasn't entirely trivial) which would hopefully provide a useful benchmark resource for people interested in implementing ethical reasoning. I also had some useful discussions with one of the implementors of the major (if not the only) computational ethical reasoning system currently in serious existence about approaches to verifying aspects of their system which may also lead to some kind of publication. Taken together, that makes this a pretty productive Dagstuhl.

*we instantly implemented a rule which involved him paying a forfeit every time he said "super-intelligence".
Saturday, June 25th, 2016 20:08
1. Still alive and kicking. Living a quiet life. Slowly digging out from under the dark pile of crap that has been the last year or so.

2. I'm still checking in on DW every few days at least to follow those who are still posting here, especially those who access lock. I might not always comment but I am reading and appreciating the insights into your lives. Thank you :)

3. As you may have seen I am handing over Growstuff to people who are better able to look after it. Sad to let it go, but glad to be letting go of the guilt about not having the mental wherewithal to deal with it. Pretty much all my old personal websites/domains are also expired/gone. I'm glad to be leaving it behind.

4. Please note username change. While I hated being forced to use my birthname, I actually like my current name, and have been using it more often online of late. Feel free to refer to me as "Alex" when talking about me in the third person. Pronouns are still "they" or "she" - either is fine, though I aim for mostly being gender neutral when refering to myself.

5. I have a new blog, Spinster's Bayley, which more or less replaces the old "Chez Skud" blog, in that it's about domestic life, but is less just "random crap that I feel like writing about" but has a bit more intent around it. I'm tossing up whether to crosspost it here - feedback welcome. If you're interested in simple/sustainable/resilient living, homegrown and homemade stuff, and subjects of that variety, go take a look.

6. I also recently started blogging at Eat Local Ballarat about locally produced food in the Ballarat region. Don't imagine it'll be of much interest to people beyond this geographic area but if you're interested in local food or relocalisation in general, take a look :) Definitely won't be crossposting that one here, but of course there's the usual collection of RSS, newsletter, and social media for those who want to follow it.

7. I would welcome suggestions of any DWs that talk about simple living, or related topics (as above). Anyone got recs?
Saturday, June 25th, 2016 01:31
1. Just as I was thinking things are going well at work, despite one of our best workers leaving early next month, I get the news today that someone else (another fulltime employee who we rely on a lot) broke his hand and may be out of commission for four weeks (or possibly more!). But other than that, things really do seem to be going well employee-wise. The new guy we hired is working out really well, and the guy we've been wanting to move from cashier to stocker may finally be able to change positions now that we have some more cashiers working. (But argh, broken hand! Why now!?)

2. A coworker brought in delicious cupcakes today!

3. I stayed up way later than I meant to (I really want to try to get to bed by midnight!) but at least I can sleep in tomorrow.

4. Mollyyyyyyyyy!

Friday, June 24th, 2016 21:35
phone is charging, fitbit is charging, change of clothes & deodorant in my bag, tiny moose, book, wallet, passport, sunglasses. and meds.

it is now 9:45 (almost). my flight leaves at 5:45. boarding starts at 5:15. which means i need to be at the airport by 4:45. part of me wonders if i should bother sleeping. the rest of me knows it'd be stupid not to try.

i'll be home again after midnight. gonna be a hellaciously long day, but i may have some exciting news at the end of it.

also, someone tested (and earned) his yellow belt tonight. i am super proud of him. hopefully i will have mine before my birthday.

was really nice talking to [personal profile] shadowspar on the phone last night. ♥
Friday, June 24th, 2016 13:59
There are not eight middles! There are THIRTEEN middles. How did I not see that? I'm four scenes short of having six middles finished. What is this project? How does it keep growing?
Friday, June 24th, 2016 14:22
My current physio regime includes a certain amount of walking each day, which is slower than usual and therefore less interesting, but also hard work. So I've dug out Zombies Run again to keep me company. I'm only half-way through Season 1, but it's fun. Jack and Eugene provide occasional unintentional hilarity in radio mode, though. For example:

Shuffle: Plays Adam Lambert's Master Plan
Jack and Eugene: Talk about how they're getting misty-eyed at that last song and teared up a bit.

Jack and Eugene: This next one's a happening tune.
Shuffle: Plays S Club 7.
Friday, June 24th, 2016 11:52
... the time from waking up to the first hate speech directed at me by a Leave voter was three hours.

She was an NHS employee providing me with necessary medical care.

She told me that Leave was a good result for the NHS -- because it can't cope with all the people who don't work, don't contribute, demand scans and MRIs, expect free prescriptions, even expect free paracetamol rather than buying it themselves.

She was cutting a dressing off my hand.

She asked me what I thought.

I thought: every single one of those things you listed describes me. I thought: I have just been told by a medical professional that I don't deserve care. I thought: there is no way I'm telling you you just described me. I thought: I'm terrified.

I'm white. I'm third generation. English isn't my first language but people can't tell unless I tell them and I certainly *sound* posh. I don't look Jewish until you put me in a room with the rest of that side of my family. I can, if necessary, leave the house without a wheelchair.

I pass. This is what I got while passing. I am terrified for the people who can't.
Friday, June 24th, 2016 10:53
This was copied by younger self from, I think, Poems on the Underground which my mother owned.

Everything Changes
after Brecht, `Alles wandelt sich'

Everything changes. We plant
trees for those born later
but what's happened has happened
and poisons poured into the seas
cannot be drained out again.

What's happened has happened.
Poisons poured into the seas
cannot be drained out again, but
everything changes. We plant
trees for those born later.

Friday, June 24th, 2016 00:52
1. Went out to lunch for my birthday today with my mom and Carla. (My birthday is on Sunday, but I have work then.) We went to Truxton's and Carla and I both got the new Seoul Burger, which was so good! It had kimchi and a fried egg on top, and some sort of delicious gochujang-based sauce. Also their sweet potato fries were super tasty as usual.

2. I mostly didn't do much today but I did get some translating done.

3. We took a nice walk tonight, which we haven't done in a week or so due to the heat. (It's supposed to get hotter again this weekend, I think, but it's really nice right now, if humid.)

4. We got a package today, which means new box for Chloe! (And Molly, too, though while she does enjoy a good box, she's not nearly as box-obsessed as Chloe, who will jump in two seconds after you put a new box down, even if she was in some other part of the house sleeping.)

I think we've got about fifteen boxes of various sizes scattered around the house and it's not a large house! Should probably go around and throw out all but a few, but they love them so much!
Thursday, June 23rd, 2016 23:20
How do the rest of y'all with anxiety sleep when the world is too unexpectedly gefuckt for sleeping?

Alternately, pictures of adorable kittens welcome? Or jokes, or anything heartwarming?

Pretty please with sugar on top?
Thursday, June 23rd, 2016 21:22
I was not serious.

Fucking stop it.
Friday, June 24th, 2016 00:00
The context is, naturally, Brexit; and equally naturally, that Leave supporters started telling each other that they should take pens along to polling stations, cast their votes in ink, and then leave the pen behind To Be Helpful. In case, I suppose, of some spectre of people rubbing out their marks and replacing them with something else. (For those of you unfamiliar with how the UK does this, you cast votes using a terribly quaint system of applying pencil to paper and sticking it in a box.)

Reproducing here for posterity and (well, there's a chance) interest. (Original.)

Read more... )

Yes, I typed the majority of that out one-handed on the auxiliary internet device's touchscreen, because typing still hurts. It is important and I had a feelings.
Thursday, June 23rd, 2016 23:18

There has been considerable interest on Facebook in [ profile] ladyofastolat's booklet made for the 1993 Arthurian Pilgrimage. I cut said booklet up and incorporated it into my photo album, so some pictures of the album seemed appropriate for Throwback Thursday.

A couple more shots under the cut )
Thursday, June 23rd, 2016 14:18
I am sending you love and endless cups of virtual tea and platters of Peak Freans.

This is all.
Thursday, June 23rd, 2016 09:04
Britain knows the danger of immigrants better than any other nation. Those rat bastards will obviously:
  • Steal the walls of St. Paul's
  • Steal (back!) the Crown Jewels
  • Force Britons to buy and take opium
  • Convert Britons to their religion under pain of death
  • Give them handkerchiefs and blankets covered in immigrant smallpox
  • Send the the Britons to schools for generations where they are not allowed to speak their own languages, grow their own hair, practice their own religion, have medical care, not get sexually assaulted, or not be murdered to death
  • Force Britons to speak Immigrant
  • Break up the British Isles; reconfigure them along totally arbitrary lines; rename them the nation state of Walsotia and the tribal confederacy of the Cornwallimanx-Jersguernsey Alliance; and then spend a century sadly belittling those dirty Englisher savages in a post-Europeast world whose internecine struggles and civil wars have proven those Anglos were never suited for civil society anyway.
Thursday, June 23rd, 2016 10:30

Yep, definitely read this one before. Third, in the Young Wizards series (one of, I believe, two series I've seen in this universe, the other one has cat wizards).

What happens if you are a wizard, you have an annoying younger sister who keeps going through your things (nd knows you're a wizard, to boot) and one day, she finds you wizard-manual, manages to read the Oath in it aloud and your family then take delivery of a new computer, which your sister monopolise?

Somewhere between "nothing" and "oh hell no, nothing" good, is what. Of course Dairene (Nita's younger sister) manages to get hold of a computerised wizard-manual, because why not. And with newly-sworn-in wizards frequently going on Ordeal, wizards being stronger the younger they are and, well...

Eminently readable. I'd say that the millennium updates may have been a bit more obvious in this one, but I also think that it makes the book more accessible in this day and age.
Thursday, June 23rd, 2016 01:49
I woke up before 9, even, but spent a leisurely morning getting ready for the day. I got in for the last session of the morning, and after that the little group I was in went for lunch at the food trucks. We wound up in the park to eat, and a good time was had by all!

More sessions in the afternoon. I livetweeted Rah's. Then there was Storytime With Rah down in the hacker lounge. This was followed by dinner -- we went to the pizza place that the lunch train was headed to, but opted to have dinner in the park, where there was More Storytime. Also kitten pictures. I talked about my experiences being too well equipped with coping mechanisms to have any hyperactivity manifest itself, and there was discussion of how people self-medicate for AD(H)D with stimulants, and how some people really seriously avoid cocaine even when trying other drugs, because they suspect it may be *too effective* (and it's illegal).

I headed for the tram line that would take me back, and on my way called Darkside and wished him a happy birthday. Also I came out to him as agender. He wasn't quite sure what to do with that information; I let him know that there really wasn't any substantial difference, just I was tired of being put in gendered boxes that I had approximately no attachment to. Also he wants to hear my talk. ;)

Clippy has turned out useful in "remembering" what the whiteboard setup was like in conference rooms. I am so pleased that Simon Illyan was one of my role models, and that I have had so much early training in the sort of self-reflection that involves looking back at past selves and trying to not judge them too harshly. Self-acceptance, and self-forgiveness aimed at not being *that* kind of asshole again, is an amazing thing.

Also my tactic of writing down my daily annoyances in the course of my Talk About My Day is helpful in the going back to figure out When That Fucking Thing Became A Thing Anyway.

I am trying to set up for tomorrow morning, since I seem to be getting more and more functional at the conference, rather than less.

(And then there was BPAL testing and card reading with F, which took a substantial two hours together, and was definitely informative. My skin makes light florals much better behaved.)
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 23:44
1. Had a really long day at work today, but I have tomorrow off! Yay!

2. I posted manga! :D

3. We started getting these new spam onigiri at work that have kimchi between the rice and spam and it's SO GOOD. *_*

4. The cats have this little TV table in front of the computer room window to give them more space to sit than the narrow windowsill, but it's in front of the closed part of the window, not the open part (the open part is too close to my desk and I'd be backing up into it all the time), so a lot of time they lie with their back half on the table and their front half on the windowsill for a better view at the birdies and squirrels and fun stuff outside.

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 23:14

Title: Koi-iji: Love Glutton
Original Title: こいいじ (Koiiji)
Author: Shimura Takako
Publisher: Kiss
Genre: Josei
Status in Japan: 3 volumes, ongoing
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations feat. Migeru
Scanlation Status: Ongoing
More Info: Baka Updates

Summary: 31-year-old Mame has been in love with her childhood friend Souta ever since she can remember. Despite multiple rejections, her love has stayed constant. It's become a habit more than anything, but is it one she'll ever be able to break and get on with her life?

Chapter Summary: As it always seems to these days, conversation turns once again to Mame's feelings for Souta.

Chapter 6: A Walk in the Clouds
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 23:03
So on Tumblr I mentioned in passing that I'm biromantic bisexual, and someone literally messaged me to say,

"just letting u know, splitting romantic and sexual attraction like "biromantic bisexual" is kinda icky bc the -sexual stands for gender attraction and not sexual attraction. bisexual means attracted in general to two or more genders, the problem is that that mindset tends to hypersexualize lgbp ppl"


Yeah, sure, I'll change the label that makes sense for me to describe myself to the people who care about me because YOU think it's Discursively Problematic??? Hahahaha as if.

(I’ve pondered on it long and hard, and I think what they mean is, splitting my “bisexual” into “bisexual” and “biromantic” creates the implication that default “bisexuality” is only about sexual attaction and not romantic attraction, feeding into the myth that LGBT+ people are ravening lustmonsters who know nothing of love.

I think, however, that intense nitpicking within the LGBT+ community about what we call ourselves in inside baseball discussions of our experiences is infinitely less useful to the cause than, you know, pretty much anything, including building replica cathedrals out of toothpicks.)
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 21:17
I actually think that decent people can disagree about whether the UK should leave the EU. There's even a left-wing case for Leave that can be made, though nobody's really trying to make it.

(Pragmatically: there are a lot of credible and knowledgeable voices saying that it would be an economic disaster, which, given our government, also means more “austerity”: more people starving and more people driven to suicide.)

(Plus, you know, the stripping away of huge numbers of human rights, workplace rights and environmental protections.)

But in the last few weeks, it's suddenly turned out that we're no longer debating "Should the UK be in the EU?", we're apparently now debating "Immigrants: how much do we hate them?". And the answer seems to be "Quite a lot".

We also seem to be debating “Do you want a new government made up of Boris Johnson (a completely amoral opportunist clawing his way into power by posing as a adorably-befuddled tousle-haired buffoon), Michael Gove, and Nigel Farage?”

(It's rumoured that Boris Johnson has already offered Farage a job in "his" post-Brexit government. Farage has denied this, naturally.)

You know what? The EU is open to debate among reasonable humans. This isn't.

This is not even dog-whistling any more, it's glaringly racist and more or less identical to a piece of actual Nazi propaganda. It says "Vote Leave because otherwise scary brown people might come to your country".

(Never mind that the people shown are Syrian refugees fleeing a war zone, or that leaving the EU wouldn't affect the UK's legal obligations to take in refugees under international law anyway.)

Whatever you think motivated the alleged murderer of Jo Cox, who (allegedly) 'said a variation of “Britain first”, “Keep Britain independent”, “Britain always comes first”, and “This is for Britain” as he launched the attack on Cox' -- Nigel Farage's poster is identical to the sort of far right/neo-Nazi material found in his house.

And here is Farage, a month ago, saying that if people feel they've lost control of their borders -- which he maintains has happened because of the EU -- and voting doesn't change anything, then "violence is the next step". Not that he condones it, of course. He’s just saying how understandable it would be if people felt driven to it.

I am fucking scared of these people. I am seeing stuff which is genuinely veering towards fascism, with Nigel Farage as our home-grown Trump. These are people who actually make me prefer to be on the same side as David Cameron, god help me.

When Jo Cox was murdered, a part of my brain went white-hot with anxiety, and when I managed to put it into words I realized it was asking is this how it starts?

(Which is, rationally, nonsense: there is no "it", "it" started long ago, "it" is always happening, take your pick. But.)

I want my fucking country back. Because it does not belong to these people and they cannot steal it.
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 19:54
In new flat.

Minor hand injury is making typing awkward for a few days so I am... going to be even slower than usual at replies, sorry.

Brief details. )
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 19:03
Reading: Myth-Understandings - an anthology from NewCon Press. I picked up three of their anthologies at the Eastercon before last and this is the second I've read. The first I felt suffered from big names in SF failing to turn in their best work. I've only read the first story in this, Owl Speak by Storm Constantine which I found decidedly meh...

Listening: Fangirl Happy Hour, another podcast recommendation. I listened to an episode a few weeks back and wasn't terribly impressed (it consisted of a lot of hand-wringing about the Hugos without, I felt, really adding to the conversation) but thought I would give it another go. I'm still not sure. It seems to assume a greater interest in the presenters than the subject matter than Verity does, but the next episode will be about Captain America:Civil War so I'll give it at least until I've heard that.

Watching: Somewhat to our surprise we watched the final episode of Warehouse 13. I say surprise, since we were aware we'd only just started watching season 5. A little googling revealed that Season 5 only had 6 episodes but didn't reveal why (the only website I found said they had "run out of money" which makes no sense given what I understand about how TV show seasons are funded and commissioned). The only thing I could think of was that seasons 1-3 were each 13 episodes, but season 4 was 20 episodes, adding an extra 6 for season 5 gives them a multiple of 13 episodes in total, which I assume has some benefit in terms of packaging for repeats and resales, though what eludes me rather. It's a shame its ended though, we enjoyed it a lot. I'm wondering if The Librarians might have a similar vibe to it.
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 15:57
This has been a busy month.

So, I wrote a master's thesis in 6 days, and then went back to work and edited it over the course of three evenings, and finally, after staying at work until 7pm yesterday, sent it to my professor. We agreed I would write a total of 3 drafts of this thesis, with this being the first one. I'm sure there will be loads of corrections to make, but it is 43 pages and I'm reasonably happy with it, so even with rewrites I feel like getting to this point has been the bulk of the work.

I was hoping to ~treat myself~ after work yesterday, but I was honestly so exhausted and blah from the heat, I hadn't eaten in 7 hours and didn't even feel hungry. I considered buying a bottle of something fruity or alcoholic but in that state I'd take one sip and pass out in my bed until morning (which, maybe wasn't that bad of an idea). I considered ordering in some kind of favorite food but I was just... so blah about food, it truly felt like an utter waste of money. I ended up making scrambled eggs and eating them with bread and peaches and then somehow still feeling ravenous at midnight. Of course I somehow didn't manage to get myself to sleep until 1am, and woke up in an extreme state of zombie-hood today.

Today I'm in a weird state where I desperately want to write about something here, but have nothing to offer. I'm been running around doing Useful Things and my brain is empty of entertaining content I guess?

So I'll just throw some loose threads at you, as long as we're here, I guess.

* Cleverman is an amazing new Australian scifi show that everyone in the world must watch. EVERYONE. IN THE WORLD. It's everything I love about scifi, and even when the writing is clunky it feels like a soothing balm on my soul. I've forgotten what it's like to watch a show that dares to be mentally challenging and complex. I'm used to watching my shows with my brain half turned off, tired from the day, but with Cleverman that's such a waste. It's a show that gives so much, it has so much to offer in every frame, every character interaction. It's just a joy. Please, please watch it so we can all be in this fandom together.

* There's a story in my head that I will probably never write, or at least won't write for a decade, and it's making me so sad and I don't really know what to do about it. Basically a few years ago when I decided to try and be a ~for real~ author of original fiction, I could either choose to write SFF or porn and I chose SFF partially because I've been writing it a lot longer (I wrote my first book in grade school - it even had illustrations!). The trouble is, I had a bunch of original ideas for both genres, and while the SFF ones got my time and attention, the porn ones...

the original universe I will likely never write )
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 01:17
1. Sooooo much cooler today than yesterday. It actually feels really nice tonight.

2. I stopped at the store after work and just happened to look at the pet food aisle and they have a whole bunch of cat food, both dry and wet, on clearance, so I really stocked up (especially on the dry; there were some bags that were regularly $5 on clearance for $1 so I bought all four they had on the shelf).

3. I started using a new brand of lotion and while I dislike the feel of it, it actually seems to be helping with my eczema even just after a couple days.

4. This sweet Molly!

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 23:18
Arrived in Portland safe and sound with traveling companion! Trip was lovely and included Hamilton sing-alongs, a bag of cherries shaped like butts, chat about our respective talks, and good old-fashioned gossip. I'd taken the last leg of the journey, so my executive function was diminished (12:30, not as much sleep as I'd have wanted) and so F went to confer with the lodging gods.

We are staying in Portland State University's summer dorm-filler project, which is unfancy but adequate -- when things are going right.

This evening did not feature many things going right. Chief among them was my executive function having gone sleepybyebye, so (apparently after them failing to find our info, and not having room in the dorm they said we'd be assigned to) F found parking, and I had a smol meltdown over having no idea what things I needed to take up to the room (under the assumption that we'd have to be moving the next day). Also we had one key-and-keycard between the two of us, and one car key.

We managed to fox-goose-and-grain ourselves into the building with no actual tears shed, though I did swear at whatever snotassed weaselfucks were responsible for the accessibility.

By the time I got horizontal it was 2:30. Then I woke up at 6.

Oh, and I had to speak today.

I went down and fed the meter, then once the hours for the housing office arrived, I went over for that and had a chat. (They had actually opened at 7, not 9; it was the *student* housing department that opened at 9. I feel that any collective misreading was entirely justified based on the hour.) I got the parking pass, a second key-and-keycard lanyard, and bagged myself a parking space near the elevator in the nearby parking garage.

Then I faceplanted on my bed and didn't re-attain consciousness until around noon.

I headed off to the conference upon waking up, picking up some lunch on the way. I there cranked away diligently upon my slides, and listened to someone I was sharing a time slot with rehearse. I also learned that there had been a sudden unavailability of the people who had been going to do video of the sessions, which filled me with woe because a) there are a lot of people who are looking forward to my talk, and b) I was up against some really interesting looking things.

I saw [personal profile] silveradept and the ritual hug of greeting was exchanged. \o/

Then it was time to give my talk. [staff profile] denise, [personal profile] kareila, and [personal profile] shadowspar were all there!

The room seemed interested, and I think I mostly remembered to use the microphone (good for recording purposes; the a/v guy said they were doing audio at least) and [personal profile] kareila got some room audio to boot! So I may be able to get a rough transcription up at some point.

The next talk that a number of us gravitated to was on the history of emoji! Great fun.

I then presented [staff profile] denise with the crocheting project that I had been somewhat successfully keeping under my hat for Quite Some Time, ever since I finished [personal profile] fu's dreamsheep (Dreamsheep Beta).

This is Dreamsheep Gamma, and it comes with some surprises. (Why is this dreamsheep different from all other dreamsheep?) D says there may be a photoshoot.

This is, like, *layers* of fanworks.

Dreamwidth started as a fanwork determined to make it pro (and successfully so). The dreamsheep icon (by [personal profile] helens78) was fanart conceptually inspired by the concept of Dreamwidth. The crocheted dreamsheep were a transformation of medium, somewhat analogous to making podfic of a fic. Dreamsheep Gamma is, additionally, a crossover.

After that a few of us decided that dinner was in order, and shortly there was a little diner graced by the sorts of giggling, friendly chatter, and toasts that five DW-affiliated people tend to get up to.

Our party started splitting after that, and I got in and fairly immediately peeled off my clothing. I was correct to not try to additionally wear shorts under The Pink Skirt. (Outfit: Pink Skirt, turquoise toeless tights, black sequined sleeveless shirt, tiara, and Jacket of Holding.) One shower later, I felt human again...

F popped in with a friend, but has popped out again; at some point I'll be attaining horizontality. I have marked my schedule-badge with little green dots on things I want to see, and bold green squares next to the can't-miss things, and green blocking off that slot.

The captive portal thing here is Not Done Badly from a UX perspective. I'm impressed that it's not horrible.
Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 15:13
I bought some awful WiFi lightbulbs a few months ago. The short version: they introduced terrible vulnerabilities on your network, they violated the GPL and they were also just bad at being lightbulbs. Since then I've bought some other Internet of Things devices, and since people seem to have a bizarre level of fascination with figuring out just what kind of fractal of poor design choices these things frequently embody, I thought I'd oblige.

Today we're going to be talking about the KanKun SP3, a plug that's been around for a while. The idea here is pretty simple - there's lots of devices that you'd like to be able to turn on and off in a programmatic way, and rather than rewiring them the simplest thing to do is just to insert a control device in between the wall and the device andn ow you can turn your foot bath on and off from your phone. Most vendors go further and also allow you to program timers and even provide some sort of remote tunneling protocol so you can turn off your lights from the comfort of somebody else's home.

The KanKun has all of these features and a bunch more, although when I say "features" I kind of mean the opposite. I plugged mine in and followed the install instructions. As is pretty typical, this took the form of the plug bringing up its own Wifi access point, the app on the phone connecting to it and sending configuration data, and the plug then using that data to join your network. Except it didn't work. I connected to the plug's network, gave it my SSID and password and waited. Nothing happened. No useful diagnostic data. Eventually I plugged my phone into my laptop and ran adb logcat, and the Android debug logs told me that the app was trying to modify a network that it hadn't created. Apparently this isn't permitted as of Android 6, but the app was handling this denial by just trying again. I deleted the network from the system settings, restarted the app, and this time the app created the network record and could modify it. It still didn't work, but that's because it let me give it a 5GHz network and it only has a 2.4GHz radio, so one reset later and I finally had it online.

The first thing I normally do to one of these things is run nmap with the -O argument, which gives you an indication of what OS it's running. I didn't really need to in this case, because if I just telnetted to port 22 I got a dropbear ssh banner. Googling turned up the root password ("p9z34c") and I was logged into a lightly hacked (and fairly obsolete) OpenWRT environment.

It turns out that here's a whole community of people playing with these plugs, and it's common for people to install CGI scripts on them so they can turn them on and off via an API. At first this sounds somewhat confusing, because if the phone app can control the plug then there clearly is some kind of API, right? Well ha yeah ok that's a great question and oh good lord do things start getting bad quickly at this point.

I'd grabbed the apk for the app and a copy of jadx, an incredibly useful piece of code that's surprisingly good at turning compiled Android apps into something resembling Java source. I dug through that for a while before figuring out that before packets were being sent, they were being handed off to some sort of encryption code. I couldn't find that in the app, but there was a native ARM library shipped with it. Running strings on that showed functions with names matching the calls in the Java code, so that made sense. There were also references to AES, which explained why when I ran tcpdump I only saw bizarre garbage packets.

But what was surprising was that most of these packets were substantially similar. There were a load that were identical other than a 16-byte chunk in the middle. That plus the fact that every payload length was a multiple of 16 bytes strongly indicated that AES was being used in ECB mode. In ECB mode each plaintext is split up into 16-byte chunks and encrypted with the same key. The same plaintext will always result in the same encrypted output. This implied that the packets were substantially similar and that the encryption key was static.

Some more digging showed that someone had figured out the encryption key last year, and that someone else had written some tools to control the plug without needing to modify it. The protocol is basically ascii and consists mostly of the MAC address of the target device, a password and a command. This is then encrypted and sent to the device's IP address. The device then sends a challenge packet containing a random number. The app has to decrypt this, obtain the random number, create a response, encrypt that and send it before the command takes effect. This avoids the most obvious weakness around using ECB - since the same plaintext always encrypts to the same ciphertext, you could just watch encrypted packets go past and replay them to get the same effect, even if you didn't have the encryption key. Using a random number in a challenge forces you to prove that you actually have the key.

At least, it would do if the numbers were actually random. It turns out that the plug is just calling rand(). Further, it turns out that it never calls srand(). This means that the plug will always generate the same sequence of challenges after a reboot, which means you can still carry out replay attacks if you can reboot the plug. Strong work.

But there was still the question of how the remote control works, since the code on github only worked locally. tcpdumping the traffic from the server and trying to decrypt it in the same way as local packets worked fine, and showed that the only difference was that the packet started "wan" rather than "lan". The server decrypts the packet, looks at the MAC address, re-encrypts it and sends it over the tunnel to the plug that registered with that address.

That's not really a great deal of authentication. The protocol permits a password, but the app doesn't insist on it - some quick playing suggests that about 90% of these devices still use the default password. And the devices are all based on the same wifi module, so the MAC addresses are all in the same range. The process of sending status check packets to the server with every MAC address wouldn't take that long and would tell you how many of these devices are out there. If they're using the default password, that's enough to have full control over them.

There's some other failings. The github repo mentioned earlier includes a script that allows arbitrary command execution - the wifi configuration information is passed to the system() command, so leaving a semicolon in the middle of it will result in your own commands being executed. Thankfully this doesn't seem to be true of the daemon that's listening for the remote control packets, which seems to restrict its use of system() to data entirely under its control. But even if you change the default root password, anyone on your local network can get root on the plug. So that's a thing. It also downloads firmware updates over http and doesn't appear to check signatures on them, so there's the potential for MITM attacks on the plug itself. The remote control server is on AWS unless your timezone is GMT+8, in which case it's in China. Sorry, Western Australia.

It's running Linux and includes Busybox and dnsmasq, so plenty of GPLed code. I emailed the manufacturer asking for a copy and got told that they wouldn't give it to me, which is unsurprising but still disappointing.

The use of AES is still somewhat confusing, given the relatively small amount of security it provides. One thing I've wondered is whether it's not actually intended to provide security at all. The remote servers need to accept connections from anywhere and funnel decent amounts of traffic around from phones to switches. If that weren't restricted in any way, competitors would be able to use existing servers rather than setting up their own. Using AES at least provides a minor obstacle that might encourage them to set up their own server.

Overall: the hardware seems fine, the software is shoddy and the security is terrible. If you have one of these, set a strong password. There's no rate-limiting on the server, so a weak password will be broken pretty quickly. It's also infringing my copyright, so I'd recommend against it on that point alone.
Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 22:14

Me Under the Cut )

The finish line. Two things strike me about this photo. Firstly, the finish line was, apparently, a lot more crowded than it felt on the ground and secondly, while I was aware there was a bunch of squaddies in front of me, I was not aware that the Hulk and Iron Man were behind me.
Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 20:42
Birthday donut time! (Clockwise from top: monkey bread, vanilla bean old-fashioned, chocolate old-fashioned, strawberry honey, salted toffee, everything bagel, and chocolate sprinkle.)
Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 09:16

First (of two, alas not more, so far) of Priest's Cheshire Red Reports series. This falls in the exceedingly narrow category of "books about vampires that I can stand". I think the key is "less sexy vampiring, more things done by vampires and not necessarily focusing TOO much on the bloodsucking" (in recent years, it's this series and the vampires in Stross's Laundryverse, as far as I recall).

Anyway, the "Cheshire Red" of the series title is a vampire named Raylene Pendle. Raylene makes her unliving as a high-ticket thief, stealing a variety of things both (as far as I can tell) for her own enjoyment, as well as taking commissions from moving expensive items from their current to their next owner. Lucrative, if somewhat dangerous, line of work. The series title is, as it happens, the codename on her Interpol file (leaving the way Interpol actually works entirely out of discussion, here).

Then, one fine evening, things takle a turn for the weird. Well, not at first, but soon enough.

Eminently readable, even the second time through.
Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 00:35
1. It was hot, but not as hot as they were predicting, and this is supposed to be the peak, so hopefully we get a bit cooler weather the rest of the week.

2. I didn't really get all that much done today, but it was nice to relax.

3. I got so many cute kitty pics today!

Monday, June 20th, 2016 19:41
I'm going to try doing a weekly linkspam post, because why not? Maybe it'll motivate me to get through my Pinboard backlog.

  • "Parents, right? Psh, who needs em!", by Talia Jane (2016-06-20). A hot personal take on the silencing of people who were parented incompetently. "Why would you care about the rocky nature of my personal life? Well, why do you think I’d care about how healthy your personal life is? Why would you think I’d enjoy seeing happy photos of you with your parents, outside of the fact that I might be happy you’re not curled up in a ball crying for six hours?"
  • Unsuck It: A bullshit-business-jargon-to-English translator (occasional ableism but on the whole pretty on-the-mark). "wellness: A notional substitute for a decent health insurance plan. Frequently includes chipper admonishments to do obvious things, such as get off your ass and walk or eat more vegetables."
  • "creativity and responsibility", by [personal profile] graydon2 (2016-06-17). On "creativity" as applied to software development: "I think 'creative' also serves as a rhetorical dodge about expectations, or perhaps more bluntly: responsibilities." Tangentially, this post reminds me of a quote from Samuel Delany that I love:
    The sad truth is, there’s very little that’s creative in creativity. The vast majority is submission – submission to the laws of grammar, to the possibilities of rhetoric, to the grammar of narrative, to narrative’s various and possible restructurings. In a society that privileges individuality, self-reliance, and mastery, submission is a frightening thing.

    (I think the software industry could do with a bit more submission to models, and there's probably something to be teased out here about why some people are so resistant to type systems and other forms of static verification.)
  • "To Keep The Blood Supply Safe, Screening Blood Is More Important Than Banning Donors", by Maggie Koerth-Baker for FiveThirtyEight (2016-06-18). We've all known for a long time that the ban on MSM donating blood is based in homophobia and not science, but it's always nice to see more evidence of that.
  • "The Myth of the Violent, Self-Hating Gay Homophobe", by Cari Romm for New York magazine (2016-06-16). No, homophobes aren't all (or even mostly) closeted self-hating queers. Hetero people really do hate us that much.
  • Interview With a Woman Who Recently Had an Abortion at 32 Weeks, by Jia Tolentino for Jezebel (2016-06-15). Long, harrowing interview with a woman who had a very late-term abortion. Makes me feel glad that there are still a few doctors courageous enough to provide this care, and sad that so many have been terrorized out of doing it.
  • "How Bernie Sanders Exposed the Democrats’ Racial Rift", by Issac J. Bailey for Politico (2016-06-08). "To minority voters, Trump’s candidacy feels like an existential threat. It’s one thing for Republicans to either ignore or embrace his racism; the party already seems unwilling or incapable of making the kinds of adjustments it must to attract more non-white voters. It’s quite another for white Democrats to not appreciate how liberal minorities feel about the possibility of a Trump presidency and what that would say about the state of racial progress in America. It would be a slap in the face, the latest sign that a kind of white privilege—throwing a temper tantrum because they don’t get their way despite how much it hurts people of color—is deeply rooted within liberal, Democratic ranks as well."
  • "The Ethics of Mob Justice", by Sady Doyle for In These Times (2013-11-08). Unfortunately, relevant again. "So we’re left with upholding structural principles, and this brings me to the Internet’s other poisoned gift to social justice: Even as it enhances our ability to censure those who violate the social contract, it makes the individual members of that society more visible, warts and all. Where the radicals of previous generations could spout high-minded rhetoric about the Common Man, Womankind or the Human Spirit while interacting mainly with the limited circle of people they found tolerable, we contemporary activists have to uphold our principles while dealing with the fact that actual common men, women and human spirits are continually being presented to us in harshly lit, unflattering close-up..." (I don't read this article as being opposed to public shaming, and I'm certainly not. Just as taking a skeptical eye to the targeting of women for having unacceptable feelings in public.)
Monday, June 20th, 2016 21:57
Happy Solstice, everybody!

I had a most excellent time at Fourth Street this weekend! I will not write about it now or I wouldn't get any sleep tonight.

I'm taking a writing class this summer ("Written Communication for Managers") and one of the prompts for this week's writing was about my experience with writing reports. That reminded me of the final paper I wrote for my Scripture and Interpretation class ten years ago. I was so proud of that paper! It is still probably the best thing I've ever written. I liked it so much I had it nicely spiral bound instead of shoving it in a presentation folder, and it still lives on my bookshelf. Tonight after I finished my homework I pulled out that paper to read it again. I don't think I've looked at it in the intervening years, so I came to it entirely fresh. I'm once again filled with happy pride to have written it! Yay. (And even more yay, because I was really cranky at work today and this has been a nice antidote.)

While I was writing that paper, I accidentally wrote a short story on the same topic--one day I was blocked on what to write next, so I started writing anything at all just to get words down, and it turned into a story about a time-traveling Biblical historian. When I had the paper bound, I threw the story in at the end as lagniappe. And you know, the story is pretty good! I am not holding it to the standards I'd expect from a pro, but for a not-a-fiction-writer like me, I like it. Maybe I'll put it on AO3 sometime.
Monday, June 20th, 2016 12:34
Currently Reading: For work, 'La Belle Hélène de Constantinople', which might possibly be the most disturbing of the Constance narratives. For dubious values of 'fun', 'Epistemology of the Closet'. For Literachur, Stead's 'For Love Alone' (finally hit pt 3). For actual fun, Lady Caroline Lamb's 'Glenarvon', which is melodramatic and hilarious.

Recently Finished:

The Portrait of a LadyThe Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think this was my second complete re-read, and I did not expect to devour the last seven chapters in a single sitting and cry my eyes out.

On first reading I *hated* the second half, but this time around I am impressed and chilled by the accuracy in the depiction of an emotionally abusive relationship. (I think I recognised it as accurate, on first reading, but found it difficult to engage with.)

Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in HalfBudget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half by Beth Moncel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love the blog, but the cookbook is a little disappointing. Both the dishes I've tried so far turned out poorly, and the book doesn't seem to offer much that the blog doesn't.

Special Topics in Calamity PhysicsSpecial Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have absolutely no idea what to make of this book.

Things I liked about it: the narrative voice, the parenthetical citations and peculiar historical/ornithological/literary references used to describe setting and characters. The artifice of it all. I liked the artifice of 'highly literate overwrought narrator', with the current of humour running through it. The timeline - a murder mystery ought to open with the death, but instead it opened long after the death, and skipped back, so you knew someone WOULD die, and the narrative invited the reader to begin sleuthing before the protag did.

Things I disliked about it: Nothing in particular. Well. Hannah's conduct vis-a-vis students made me uncomfortable; the fact the POV character went along with the whole drinking-and-depravity-high-school facade was annoying (but there would be no story if she hadn't). But I'm not sure the plot was actually *good*. The final 1/4 seemed rushed. I'm not sure the fact that her dad was *actually abusive* was sufficiently engaged with.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this. I wasn't sure what it would have to offer that Oranges hadn't already covered - much of what I liked about the first half was the same as stuff I liked about Oranges. Not the narrative but the ways of phrasing and framing things. And that carried through into the second half - Winterson's ways of talking about literature, madness, family, and so on. I have highlighted many bits for savouring later.

Up Next: I just got copies of 'Dealing with Dragons' (Wrede) and 'Lavinia' (LeGuin), so one of those, probably!

Current/Recent Music notes:

Haven't purchased any new ones, but got K to send me a back-catalogue of MP3s from old SUMS concerts. The Motzart Requiem was particularly soothing last week, so I thought I should acquire more like that. Still very much in love with Gillian Welch, and developed a brief fixation on 90s Tina Arena over the weekend. Might need more like that.
Monday, June 20th, 2016 05:03
Every week, let's celebrate ourselves, to start the week right. Tell me what you're proud of. Tell me what you accomplished last week, something -- at least one thing -- that you can turn around and point at and say: I did this. Me. It was tough, but I did it, and I did it well, and I am proud of it, and it makes me feel good to see what I accomplished. Could be anything -- something you made, something you did, something you got through. Just take a minute and celebrate yourself. Either here, or in your journal, but somewhere.

(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!)
Monday, June 20th, 2016 01:37
1. It was really hot today, but the house actually cooled off quite a lot tonight. It's nice and cool now!

2. Day off tomorrow! Might be going to get my hair cut, but other than that, no plans except to stay home and get some translating done.

3. Remembered to do something at the very last minute before leaving work tonight that really would have sucked if I'd forgotten it!

4. Kitties!

Sunday, June 19th, 2016 22:11
Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking.
Why else would the springtime falter?
Why would all our ardent longing
bind itself in frozen, bitter pallor?
After all, the bud was covered all the winter.
What new thing is it that bursts and wears?
Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking,
hurts for that which grows
and that which bars.

Yes, it is hard when drops are falling.
Trembling with fear, and heavy hanging,
cleaving to the twig, and swelling, sliding -
weight draws them down, though they go on clinging.
Hard to be uncertain, afraid and divided,
hard to feel the depths attract and call,
yet sit fast and merely tremble -
hard to want to stay
and want to fall.

Then, when things are worst and nothing helps
the tree's buds break as in rejoicing,
then, when no fear holds back any longer,
down in glitter go the twig's drops plunging,
forget that they were frightened by the new,
forget their fear before the flight unfurled -
feel for a second their greatest safety,
rest in that trust
that creates the world.
Sunday, June 19th, 2016 22:08
I do not know where either of us can turn
Just at first, waking from the sleep of each other.
I do not know how we can bear
The river struck by the gold plummet of the moon,
Or many trees shaken together in the darkness.
We shall wish not to be alone
And that love were not dispersed and set free—
Though you defeat me,
And I be heavy upon you.

But like earth heaped over the heart
Is love grown perfect.
Like a shell over the beat of life
Is love perfect to the last.
So let it be the same
Whether we turn to the dark or to the kiss of another;
Let us know this for leavetaking,
That I may not be heavy upon you,
That you may blind me no more.
Sunday, June 19th, 2016 22:05
it is one day without you.

Then two.
And soon,

our point: moot.
And our solution, diluted.

And our class action (if ever was)
is no longer suited.

Wherewith I give to looting through
the war chest of our past

like a wily Anne Bonny
who snatches at plunder or graft.

But the wreck of that ransack,
that strongbox, our splintering coffer,

the claptrap bastard
of the best we had to offer,

is sog-soaked and clammy,
empty but for sand.

Like the knuckle-white cup
of my urgent, ghastly hands

in which nothing but
the ghost of love is held.

Damn it to hell.