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[personal profile] musesfool
So on Monday the realtor I've been working with sent me 10 listings to choose from and I said I liked five, and so I'm seeing 2 out of those five tomorrow evening (the two most expensive and also the two I was least interested in. funny how that works out. the one that was my fave accepted an offer yesterday and is thus off the market now. Sigh.). I'm trying to keep an open mind, but I'd really like to see the two I like more before I have to make any decisions.

How can it only be Wednesday? Yesterday felt like it was 8 days long in and of itself. Sigh.

What I've just finished
Nothing.

What I'm reading now
Still on Abaddon's Gate. I like it but not as much as the first two books so it's taking me longer to read (the fact that I haven't been getting a seat on the train hasn't helped). I feel like the new characters are not nearly as interesting as Avasarala and Bobbie, though I like Anna and Bull just fine. Melba, otoh... On the plus side, spoilers ) I'm about a hundred pages from the end so I'm guessing there's still some excitement to come.

What I'm reading next
Regardless, I did pick up the next book - Cibola Burn - because I do want to see what happens next. I just also wish we got the POV from the others on the Roci instead of all Holden all the time there.

***
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Leaving aside everything else that is wrong and immoral about this proposed ban, at the moment there are something like 11,000 trans people currently serving openly in the US services and reserves. They are there legally, and it is currently their right to serve openly. Trump’s ban, at first glance, appears to take away their right to serve their country, and takes away their jobs, their incomes, their benefits for themselves and their families — for no other reason than something which yesterday was not illegal nor an impediment to serving their country with passion and distinction.

Make no mistake: Trump is affirmatively and explicitly taking away a right from American citizens, a right they already had and enjoyed. This is a big right: The right to serve in one’s military openly, without fear of punishment for who you are.

If Trump will take away one right from Americans, he’s not going to have a problem taking away other rights as well. Why would he? Trump is the living embodiment of “If you give a mouse a cookie” — if he gets away with one thing, he’ll go ahead and try to get away with something else. He’s already trying, of course.

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that I support the right of transgender people to serve openly in the military, a thing they already have done, any more than it will come as a surprise that I support the rights of transgender people generally. But as important as it is for me to explicitly say I support transgender rights, I think it’s also worth asking people who oppose these rights, or other rights enjoyed by people not exactly like them, whether they are comfortable taking away fundamental rights these American citizens already have — and if so, what leads them to believe that their own rights, rights they already enjoy, are not also placed in jeopardy by that precedent.

If the answer boils down to “well, that will never happen to me,” as it inevitably will, it’s worth examining why they think they will forever be immune. The answer will be instructive for everyone.

And also, they’re wrong. If you can take away an existing right of an American simply because of who they are, then you can take away a right of any American simply because of who they are — or what they are, or where their ancestors came from, or what they believe, and so on.

I said on Twitter this morning, “Today, as has almost every day in this administration, offers each us of a chance to understand the dimensions our own moral character.” And so it does. And so it will, every day, I expect, until it is done.


[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Coke announced today that it’s rebranding Coke Zero to “Coke Zero Sugar”:

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar is the new and improved Coke Zero. We’ve made the great taste of Coke Zero even better by optimizing the unique blend of flavors that gave Coke Zero its real Coca-Cola taste. Coca-Cola Zero Sugar is our best-tasting zero-sugar Coca-Cola yet, and it will be available across America in August.

Basically, it’s the same new formula it’s been introducing in foreign markets as “Coke No Sugar” but Coke is keeping the “Zero” branding here because it’s been successful and they don’t want to confuse us poor Americans any more than we already are in these trying times. Or something.

As I noted previously (see the second link, there), I am perfectly fine with Coke attempting this revamp — by all reviews I’ve seen the “Zero Sugar” version tastes more like standard Coke than Coke Zero, and since “actually tasting like regular Coke” is why I drink Coke Zero in the first place (Diet Coke shares its flavor profile with the late, unlamented New Coke), I’ll willing to give this new version a shot. If it turns out I hate it, well. I guess then that August 2017 will be a fine time for me to drastically cut down my soda drinking. I suspect I’ll probably continue calling the new stuff “Coke Zero” rather than “Coke Zero Sugar,” because it’s two fewer syllables and I’m all about efficiency.

So in effect, I think that this is less like Coke Zero dying than it is Coke Zero regenerating, timelord-like, into its next iteration. And I suspect I will remain its constant companion.


You know what I didn't mention?

Jul. 26th, 2017 11:12 am
filkerdave: Made by LJ user fasterpussycat (Default)
[personal profile] filkerdave

On Friday, July 14th, the girlfriend and I went over to the Animal Adoption Center here in Jackson. Someone came home with us. We still don't have a name for her (I've suggested Purrito, but that's been vetoed. Given the date she came home, maybe I should push for Marianne).

Icon stickers

Jul. 26th, 2017 10:38 am
par_avion: collage of intl air mail stickers (Default)
[personal profile] par_avion posting in [community profile] vividcon
Wow, it's almost August!

This is your yearly Icon sticker request page. Make those requests! What are you feeling fannish about this year? What is your visual fan identity?

Please post here if possible. Anyone who only uses twitter can @ me there.

Wednesday Reading

Jul. 26th, 2017 09:27 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I did a fair amount of reading over the weekend, and early this week.

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott was too nerve-wracking and painful for me to read right now; I finished it, but the sequels will definitely have to wait. The race and class issues were very well-depicted, I thought, and the suspense was excellent. I am just too stressed about the world to handle this sort of thing in fiction right now.

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch was, alas, much shorter than I had hoped. Abigail was so great! I want all the Abigail stories!!!

I was happily surprised that Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb, 43rd in the series, was much better than several of the previous volumes. There were a lot of twists and barriers to solving the mystery, capturing the perpetrators, and bringing them to justice, and remarkably little checking in with the huge recurring cast, which can become tedious. I read this partly because mysteries are comforting (justice wins!) and partly for purposes of analysis. I need to write down notes on its structure and character types and things like that.

The Bride And Groan

Jul. 26th, 2017 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Jen

Today's post is dedicated to all the engaged couples out there. That's right, lovebirds, I thought we might take this opportunity to consider the most important cake of your entire lives: your wedding cake.

Now, I know I feature a lot of wedding wrecks, and I know a lot of folks will point out that asking for a fondant design recreated in buttercream is asking for disaster, but don't you worry. I'm here to help. After all, this is what Leah D. ordered for HER wedding cake:

 

 

And look what she got!

It's the tinfoil-covered cookie sheet that really sells it.


Ok, yes, it's a wreck. BUT - did you notice how the inspiration cake was all buttercream, and the wreck itself is fondant? I'm just sayin'. It works both ways.

Now, don't you feel better?

No?

Ok, then how about what Susan A. ordered for her wedding? 

 

 Not a great picture (you don't see mimeographs much these days), but I think you get the general idea.

 And here's what Susan got:

Granted, I'm not sure how this is supposed to make you feel better, but trust me, guys: the REST of us are feeling grrrrr-REAT. (John! Go make some popcorn! These are gettin' GOOD.)

 

Sara M. wanted her wedding cake to be a hunk a' hunk a' burnin' love:

 

The cake! The cake! The cake is on FI-YUR!

 

But instead, her cake just suffered from a mild burning sensation and performance issues:

 

Wah-WAAAAH.

(That was my attempt at a slide-rule trombone effect. I know: I'm a veritable foley artist with words.)

 

And finally, Elizabeth P. dreamed a dream of ribbon-wrapped sweetness for her big day:

 

...but ended up with something only a mummy could love:

 Ouch. Uh...that's a wrap!

 

Thanks to all of today's brides and just remember, guys: wreck or Sweet, we're gonna need to see your wedding cake! (Oh, and we're all invited, right? RIGHT?!)

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

Birthday greetings and felicitations

Jul. 26th, 2017 08:47 am
onyxlynx: Festive pennants in blue & purple with word "Birthday" centered. (Birthday)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
 to [personal profile] el_staplador !  A day of beauty and joy!

Wednesday DE: Rule 63

Jul. 26th, 2017 02:08 pm
cook_the_rude: (**Cubefall16 - female superior)
[personal profile] cook_the_rude posting in [community profile] ways_back_room
 What would your character be like gender-switched? Would there be much of a difference, both physically and in the societal setting of their world.

The Big Idea: Vivian Shaw

Jul. 26th, 2017 11:18 am
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Monsters are monsters, but do they always have to be so… monstrous? Vivian Shaw considers the fundamental nature of these terrible creatures in Strange Practice, and how she came to look at them from another angle entirely.

VIVIAN SHAW:

What’s my big idea?

The facile answer is, of course, sensible monsters. An idea which doesn’t seem to have found a great deal of traction thus far in any genre, classic or contemporary, and so offers a wide-open opportunity to play with readers’ expectations — but the real underlying answer goes back a lot further than that. It has to do with the contrast between ordinary and extraordinary, and what that means in terms of storytelling.

I’ve been writing novellas and novels of varying quality since I was about ten or eleven, but I did National Novel Writing Month for the first time in 2004, right after spending a lot of time on urbex websites, and the big idea behind that first NaNo was how many characters from classic vampire lit can I get into one story while exploring the weird and wonderful subterranean world of London? The answer turned out to be between five and eight. That first draft featured not only Lord Ruthven and Sir Francis Varney, but also Dracula and Carmilla (only spelling herself Mircalla, because vampires and spelling are such a thing). On the human side I had Greta, descended from Van Helsing, and August Cranswell, descended from the family that put paid to the vampire of Croglin Grange.

I decided to put vampires in the NaNo novel because I’ve always been fond of them — even as a kid I loved reading the classics, even if I had to stop every now and then to look up the words. The way in which the Western vampire mythos evolved from age to age, gathering often-contradictory detail with each well-known story added to its canon, fascinated me. But in all the stories, all the retellings, I couldn’t get away from the fact that most of the vampires did really stupid things. Their behavior was practically designed to attract the attention of the pitchfork-and-flaming-torch brigade, and just for once I wanted to read about vampires who just got on with it — vampires who were monsters, yes, but also people. Vampires who didn’t have to have geographically unplaceable accents and go swanning around in evening dress all the time for no reason. Vampires who didn’t need to be hypersexualized edgelords in leather trousers, or spend all their time moping about their cursed eternal fate, woe. Vampires who’d rather write nasty letters to the Times than tear throats out (unless the latter was really necessary), and who used their powers to watch over the city and stop other monsters ruining everything. Vampires who were sensible.

And because I wanted to read it, I had to write it first.

That book was called The Underglow, and it sat around on various hard drives for a decade while I borrowed characters from it and played with them, letting them evolve into much more nuanced and interesting individuals. In 2014 I dusted the book off again, looked at it properly, and determined it would need to be stripped to the skeleton and rewritten almost from scratch.

And this time the big idea wasn’t about cramming in as many recognizable characters as I could shoehorn into a plot, nor was it limited to vampires alone. This time it was about the individuals themselves — a more diverse cast, given more opportunity to shine — and what it actually meant to them to be what they were, extraordinary creatures in an ordinary world. I didn’t just have sensible vampires. I had sensible were-creatures, and mummies, and ghouls, banshees, bogeymen, a whole spectrum of monsters to play with, a richer world to explore.

It was this second iteration of the book that would end up becoming a series starring Greta as the central character, set in this peculiarly overlapping supernatural-adjacent world. With my editor’s help, I continued to refine the text into something that explored that particular aspect of storytelling: both the contrast between the ancient monsters and the modern day, and the fascinating difficulties encountered by people who necessarily spent their time in the liminal space of that boundary between natural and supernatural. What their experience would be, as creatures who had to coexist either covertly or overtly with ordinary humans, keeping their natures as quiet as possible — and what it might be like as a human to witness that experience, and to take on the responsibility of offering care across species boundaries. What kind of person would you have to be, to do a job like that?

Without really intending to, all those years ago in the throes of NaNo, I’d done myself an extraordinary favor in inventing the character of Greta Helsing. In the previous version, Greta was much less important a character; in this one, I could take much more advantage of her highly specialized role to portray those monsters as her patients, people she cared for, whatever sort of creature they might be, and what that meant to her. As a human physician to the supernatural, she necessarily encounters an enormous variety of complaints, and so I get to write about so many fascinating problems seen both from the human and the clinical standpoint. It gives me endless pleasure to apply scientific protocol to the realms of the unreal — there’s the contrast thing again, ordinary and extraordinary balancing each other — and I love writing about listserv arguments over the relative merits of different embalming fluids in zombie tissue stabilization, or the practice of creating perfect bone replacements for mummies via 3-D printing from a laser scan.

So it’s contrast, and it’s the experience of that contrast, of being a stranger in a strange land, that really drives the book (and, in fact, the series). The concept of found family echoes throughout, as well — it’s a natural consequence of the transposition of individual and environment, and one of my favorites.

But if, in the end, all you take away from Strange Practice is sensible monsters…I’m gonna be well-pleased with the work of my hands.

—-

Strange Practice: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow her on Twitter.


Interesting Links for 26-07-2017

Jul. 26th, 2017 12:00 pm
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[personal profile] andrewducker

promises me i'll be safe as houses

Jul. 26th, 2017 06:00 am
tiltingheartand: ([tng] all i'm taking with me)
[personal profile] tiltingheartand
I took tonight off as a Mental Health Day. And by that I mean I texted my boss yesterday at about 10:30am, letting her know I wasn't planning on being in Tuesday night, and that I apologized for not being able to start helping to train the new girl whose name I can't remember, et cetera, et cetera.

It felt kind of weird, to be honest. Not that I've never called in, because I've done that; I've just never literally said to my boss "all I want to do right now is sit on the couch and cry. Or lie in bed forever. So I'm staying home, because I don't think I'd get anything done at work tonight anyway."

On the bright side she told me she totally understood, and hoped I felt better.


In other news, my very exciting streak has gone down the goddamn drain, because HEY!

Guess who just had two seizures within less than 24 hours of each other!

2:30am Monday morning, and then 2:00am Tuesday morning. I'm honestly almost shocked I didn't have one this morning. (Nooooot that I'm complaining. For the record.)

(So not really "in other news" so much as "in related news, because this is precisely why I was so miserable yesterday and am only slightly better today". The improvement seems, I think, to be mainly because I did nothing today but sit around and read fic and regret my inability to plot my own, since I have what I think is the makings of a semi-decent one pinging around in my brain refusing to shut up. But mostly read other people's, honestly.)

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