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([personal profile] julesjones Oct. 23rd, 2017 08:09 am)
Not posted since before Worldcon, in part because I came back from Worldcon happy but very tired, and then things went to hell in a handbasket at work in terms of work/workers ratio and I was doing a lot of extra flexitime, and then I paid for that healthwise... Also, computer was being Annoying again. I do have some book reviews written on dead trees which I have been meaning to transcribe. It may even happen before the end of the year. Anyay, I aintnet dead, and neither is my computer even if it did take me all weekend to crowbar the latest Windows update onto it.
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([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Oct. 23rd, 2017 01:06 am)
 Here's an interesting article about creating new apple varieties.  This was a lot easier when people bred primarily for taste and resistance to pests or bad weather.  Now they're breeding more for appearance, and that costs in flavor.
This poem is spillover from the September 5, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] technoshaman and [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It also fills the "learning how to be loved" square in my 7-31-17 card for the Cottoncandy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] mama_kestrel. It belongs to the Damask thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem is all about childbirth, in rather graphic detail. If that's a touchy topic for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward. Also, hankie warning for anyone prone to crying over happy scenes.

Read more... )
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([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Oct. 22nd, 2017 01:12 pm)
 Tunnels have been confirmed on the Moon.  While these make a promising site for settlement, I would prefer to make sure there are plenty of them before wrecking the first one we've found.
Today is the last day of the half-price sale in Polychrome Heroics, so if you're still planning to buy anything, now's the time. 

So far I have sold four poems.  Three of those have been posted.  "A Moment of Atonement" hasn't been posted yet.  There are also two poems in a pool, the Iron Horses entries "Come Out of the Darkness" and "Sheltered and True."  Contact [personal profile] ng_moonmoth if you are interested in contributing toward those.
A whole lot of "water is wet" observations, but I do admire the precision of analysis in listing specific actions of #45 and why they are troubling.
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([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Oct. 21st, 2017 03:55 pm)
This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls but follows on prompts from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer, [personal profile] ari_the_dodecahedron, [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah, and [personal profile] nsfwords. It also fills the "healthy touch" square in my 7-31-17 card for the Cottoncandy Bingo fest. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. This poem belongs to the Shiv thread of the Polychrome Heroics series. It relates to events in "An Atmosphere of Shame" and "Everything That Is Real About Us," so read those first or this won't make much sense.

Warning: This poem contains some intense material. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It includes anxiety, forboding, fear of communication, many references to Shiv's awful past, because the inside of Shiv's head is always a warning, feeling trapped, boundary issues, impaired consent, talking about scars, extreme body modesty, touch aversion, references to past malpractice in mental care, touching which is unwanted but permitted, graphic description of past abuse, poor self-assessment skills regarding physical and mental complaints, defensive lying which has become a reflex to the point that Shiv often can't tell the truth even when it would benefit him more than a lie, vulgar language, resistance to help, minor violence (not directed at a person), emotional flashbacks, overload, desperation, scary basement memories, and other challenges. This poem may be extra-stressful for people with a history of therapeutic abuse, toilet abuse, and/or child molestation. If these are touchy topics for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

Read more... )
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([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Oct. 21st, 2017 03:52 pm)
Today is partly sunny, breezy, and warm. 

We went out and looked at yardwork projects together.  We picked out a place to plant the big bag of bulbs, and Doug mowed that along with the paths in the prairie garden.  Since we're supposed to get some rain tonight and tomorrow, I'm waiting on that before planting them, so the ground will be softer.

I also picked up sticks around the house, since that yard will need to be mowed later.

Late monarchs are fluttering around the prairie garden.

EDIT 10/21/17: I went back out and dug up some toadstools so the south lot can be mowed.
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([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Oct. 21st, 2017 12:17 am)
This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls, inspired by the "teamfamily" square in my 5-29-17 card for the Pride Bingo fest. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem deals with some touchy topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It features bald women, messy medical details, references to past cases of cancer, infertility, distracting visions of Amazon life, historic references to dubious consent and inane attitudes, fostering, failed conversions, frank talk about death, and other challenges. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

Read more... )
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([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Oct. 20th, 2017 10:12 pm)
Today we saw the Ikebana exhibit at Krannert.  It was small, but very pretty.  It's worth going if you're in Champaign-Urbana or very close, but not worth a longer drive.  Only the demonstration is listed on the website, but the free exhibit is open Friday-Sunday.  They had many things in styles I recognized, and a few plants I'd never seen before.  Also a style I'd never seen before: bark, metal, and flowers all glued to a flat board.  That was pretty cool.  There were several of the classic spiral vases with two openings.  My favorite, however, was an arrangement which used a big silver dryer hose curled into the same spiral -- simultaneously referencing the very old spiral vase and modern Japan's tech base and love of all things robotic.  It was just SO JAPANESE.  But I bet it's like the Hokusai wave, nobody will get it for a few decades and then suddenly it will be the most Japanese thing EVAR.

I couldn't help think of Terramagne.  People there often weave their hobbies into work.  If you go into a business, you may see the owner's collection of china plates over the door.  Things like flower arranging are often done by clubs, where you can pay a higher fee to take it home to display in your house or business, but a lower fee if you just want to make something fun and then it goes to a library or hospital or women's shelter where lots of people can enjoy it.  And all that stuff gives folks something to talk about as they go through their day.  "Did you see the new painting in Burger Bash?  Carrie's son did a giraffe this time." "Yeah, he's getting really good."

We visited with my parents and dropped off a batch of poetry, already sponsored.  I don't know whether I'll have time to post this tonight or wait until tomorrow.  You can look forward to "Death Whispers at the Tip," "Capable of Stretching," and "A Moment of Atonement."



For supper, we went to a new Japanese restaurant in Danville called Fujiyama.  I am only somewhat a fan of Japanese cuisine -- I love sushi but can't each much of it -- and not at all a fan of flaming tables.  This place greatly exceeded my expectations.  First, the performance area is separate from the regular dining area, so that was a big relief.  People who want excitement can get it without bothering people who want to relax.  \o/  Second, the menu has lots of tasty things to choose from.  I picked out two different appetizers to fill up on (pork dumplings and coconut shrimp) and then had a piece of the sushi that other folks got (California Roll, Spicy Volcano Roll, and Bayridge Roll.  Where things really got interesting: they will make "reasonable substitutions" in the sushi constructions if there are things you can't eat; replacing avocado with cream cheese is a standard  substitution.  :D  I have never found a sushi place that would change anything, they all acted like their recipes were dipped in gold or something.  So if you are looking for a special-diet-friendly sushi place, check out Fujiyama.

My father sent home a bag of 30 bulbs, which at a quick glance seem to be a random mix of tulips and daffodils.  I think I will plant them in the prairie garden en masse.
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([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Oct. 20th, 2017 09:23 pm)
 I love this episode, especially the fanservice in the final exchange.
A library realized that homeless people were hiding books under cushions to finish later.  So the librarians designated a shelf for homeless readers to store their "in use" books.  This is a replicable solution that any library can use if they have a similar challenge.  Meanwhile over in Terramagne, this sort of thing is common.
This poem is spillover from the November 5, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] technoshaman, [personal profile] ari_the_dodecahedron, and Anonymous on Dreamwidth. It also fills the "drunk girl / guy" square in my 11-1-16 card for the Fall Festival bingo. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the Mallory thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem contains some intense topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It includes confusion, indecision, college party hijinks, Whitney sneaking alcohol into a non-alcoholic event, binge-watching television, Whitney passing out drunk on the couch, reference to past alcohol misuse, reference to past rape, Mallory having a panic attack with awful flashbacks and other intrusive images, Heron calling the Student Health Center for Whitney, Mallory crying on Heron, and other angst. But there's a lot of fluff too. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward. However, this is a major plot point, so skipping it would leave a gap.

Read more... )
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([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Oct. 19th, 2017 05:13 pm)
Today is sunny and warm.  Birds are fluttering around.

We went out and scraped ash out of the firepit, so we can build a fire for Samhain.  Then we picked up sticks out of a big pile of leaves that Doug raked up earlier. 



Jeet Heer called that an "unpopular opinion." I think he's right.

I'm going to do some intellectual violence to Buddhism here, but in doing so I hope to open up a couple of pointers and maybe open up a discussion about a central tenant of Buddhism. Buddhism is basically an entirel religion built around one essential insight: you are not your thoughts, and your thoughts arise for reasons over which you have very little control.

That's it. The rest of Buddhism is an attempt to make sense of this insight, and to use it fruitfully. The technology for doing so is meditation. ("technology: the means and knowledge used to provide for human sustenance and comfort" — oh, if only!) And there are only three subdisciplines of meditation that you have to master in order to acheive Buddha's essential insight.

Concentration


The very first skill of Buddhism is being able to focus and control your thoughts on demand. This is the infamous Breath Meditation, the one that bores everyone and is the first major hurdle to overcome. This is the time when you spend first five, then ten, then twenty, then longer, concentrating only on a single thing: your breath, a candle flame, a mantra, a thought, a feeling. That's it. It's a discipline.

And for someone like me, with mild ADHD, it's been incredibly useful.

Mindfulness


The second skill is mindfulness. You can't even begin to practice mindfulness until done concentration for a while. Mindfulness starts with being able to recognize when your mind has wandered off from concentration. Over the weeks and months of concentration practice, you develop a sense of mindfulness about your own mind. There are two subdisciplines of mindfulness: external and internal.

External is easier: you become mindful of what's going on around you. You pay attention to the world, to everything around you, labeling every stimuli accurately but not considering anything else about it: not its origin, not its disposition. You can do it with your eyes open, even.

Internal starts out simply enough: meditating on physical states, like what temperature is your big toe, how much pressure is being exerted by your knees, what angle are you carrying your head at. Eventually, though, mindfulness moves to emotions: what does it feel like to feel sad, or angry? Where in your body do you carry stress? Where in your body do you feel happiness?

Between these two, you develop a sense of the transience of all these feelings. Thoughts happen to distract you, you are not entirely, or even mostly, in control of them. The best you can do is keep them marshalled.

Insight


Insight is the hardest of all. It builds off mindfulness. Insight is the realization that those feelings you're having aren't you. You've already developed a sense that your feelings aren't under your control. The distraction to get up and get a drink, or turn away from whatever you're working on to watch YouTube or hit Facebook, is terrible, but that distraction either is you or isn't you, and there's not a whole lot of in-between.

Even more importantly, the border between "you" and the "world" gets a little fuzzy. Sure, it seems to be your skin, but the world comes in through eyes, ears, your nose and mouth. Your skin and the world are in a constant negotiation about the temperatures and pressures to which you're subject, its comfort and its texture: is your skin "you," or is it doing something without your "self" making decisions?

Now the point of insight is to chip away, mindful moment by moment, that maybe there is nothing at all that is you. There's nothing you can point to that's "you" in a coherent sense. There's a version of you that's hungry, and cranky, and happy, and joyful, but none of those is in a real sense "you," an incontrovertible noun that represents you-ness.

The Buddhists claim that those who have had the full insight, the moment when all of sense of yourself has been extinguished and you've fully embraced the idea that there's no coherent "you," you become ineffably aware of the fragility of everyone else, and in doing so become more compassionate and wise, an arahat.

The science fictional view


"The Transporter Paradox," which asks who you are if you're disassembled in one place and reassembled in another, complete and accurate down to the last quark, is a classic of modern science. I've played with it myself. My robots talk a lot (too much, maybe) about negotating that barrier between themselves and the world, about the nature of thought, even about the way we come up with narratives to explain why we act in certain ways. My brain uploads find that giving up the body has its own suite of challenges, and many opt for simulated bodies to keep the level of stimuli familiar and comforting.

But the one thing that brain uploads also challenge is the idea of reifying time. In the current world, we have these lovely tools called "time traveling debuggers," which record the state of the program as its running, and allow programmers to view the program's memory state as a graph of use-over-time, looking for spikes and strange behaviors and bugs. If we reified someone's brain state in the same way, would that be the "self" she claims as her own? It would be more concrete, it would wrap the Buddhist objections about "impermanence" in a malleable, permanent representation. It would, in fact, challenge Buddhism to treat time as a phenomenon that is part of, and not distinct from, the three-dimensional representation of the body.

On the other hand, it would also definitely reify the way "you" and "your world" are inseparable; just as a time travelling debugger makes no sense without both a program to run and a computer to run it on, a consciousness running on any substrate, be it meat or metal, requires a context in which to exist. So in one sense, we've found a thought experiment that solidifies one sense in which Buddhism's insights about human nature might not be true, and one in which they are even more true. "Impermanence" is itself an illusory effect of any one human being's inability to perceive more than a singular instant of time. And yet, "selfhood" itself becomes something without any independent existence at all; your "self" doesn't exist except as an illusion, like a seam of silver in the great mines of spacetime that can't be extracted without destroying both.

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([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Oct. 18th, 2017 09:20 pm)
People are freaking out over football players kneeling as a civil rights protest. As I've said repeatedly, this should be encouraged, not condemned. It is a rational, legal method of solving problems. If you block that, people will resort to less rational, less legal methods. I would prefer not to have race riots all over the place. Again. The catch is, kneeling is an effective way to attract attention but it doesn't solve the underlying problems. For that we need more. And then [personal profile] dialecticdreamer came up with this gem:

"Kneeling falls entirely under right of free expression and social protest. Anyone who tries to decry that it 'damages' the corporation a public figure works for, whether a sports team or a bakery, is an authoritarian idjit. Were I the manager of a sports team, the SECOND one of my players knelt in protest, I'd arrange to meet them, and ask what can help. Public outreach. More sports camps and mentorships for youth in poverty, who are disproportionately darker-skinned (but I'd be careful not to make skin color a requirement-- you've heard this rant before)."

Well, the famous guys are difficult or impossible to reach, for practical reasons. But it's not just them anymore; players on local teams sometimes do the same thing. They can be reached, and so can their managers. Letters to the editor of any newspaper would be another way of publicizing this idea. We can also just put this topic in blog posts. Then if anyone is involved in sports where this is happening, they have a solution to try.
Recently a friend mentioned looking forward to an event but worrying that it might be overwhelming. This can happen. It happens more often to people with special needs -- or introverts, who are a huge portion of the populace that is simply ignored in almost all event planning, thus necessitating additional accommodations. Here are some ideas to make your trip safer and happier ...

Read more... )
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([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Oct. 18th, 2017 04:00 pm)
Today is sunny, mild, and breezy.  I refilled the birdfeeders.  Birds are fluttering around in the nice weather today, although I haven't seen any on the feeders.

I planted 24 Muscari armeniacum  around bushes along the driveway.  This is a classic type of blue grape hyacinth which puts up spikes of tiny purple flowers shaped like bells.

We hope to get back out later and work on the area around the outdoor woodpile.

EDIT 10/18/17: We moved a wheelbarrow of firewood from the yard onto the porch.

EDIT 10/18/17: I went back out and fertilized the bulb gardens and some places where they're naturalized.  Thanks to whoever it was that reminded me of this.
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([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Oct. 18th, 2017 01:08 pm)
How a strongman solves a parking problem.  More common in Terramagne than here, but fun to see. 
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