Writing and depression

Apr. 26th, 2017 07:26 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: I am a cilantro writer (cilantro photo) (cilantro writer)
I don't think I have anything new to say about writing and depression, but I'm struggling with it right now and trying to reboot myself out of it, so I thought I'd talk about that.

For anyone who's new here: I have bipolar I, which means that I spend significant periods of time depressed. I also cycle very quickly sometimes, so I can go from elated to suicidal within a single day or the course of hours. Needless to say, besides sucking in its own right, it makes writing, which I think of as a somewhat neurosis-inducing career [1], an additional challenge.

[1] I am pretty sure there are non-neurotic writers out there! But I am literally, professionally diagnosed crazy, and I have spent time in the psych ward for suicide attempts, so...

When writing gets hard, it comes down to routines. Writing is easy when it's a fire in the mind and the words blaze to be let down on paper (or typed into the computer, or whatever--I write both longhand and on a computer depending on my mood or the particular project). But inspiration is completely unreliable, especially when depression comes calling.

My routine goes something like this. Note that I don't claim that this works for everyone! Just this is what I do, and it more or less works for me. Sometimes better than others.

1. Get out of bed. Sometimes this is the hardest step.

2. Get food into myself. I have this rule that no writing happens until I have eaten something, even an oatmeal packet. Bodies are weird (or anyway, mine is! maybe yours is perfectly fine :p). If my blood sugar drops, I turn into a depressed suicidal wreck. I find this completely maddening considering that I'm overweight so you'd think that I could survive for a couple extra hours off fat reserves, but nope! Not so lucky. So I try to remember to eat at intervals. Even so, there's this period in the late afternoon/early evening where I usually have to take a break from writing no matter when I started because my blood sugar is too low for me to concentrate. (This is usually because I'm trying to time dinner to be convenient for my husband and daughter. If it were just me, I would eat smaller meals every four hours and that might work better.)

3. Get exercise. Sometimes I skip this, but I read somewhere that you should try to do the most important things first in your daily routine. I figure exercise is more essential than writing, or anyway, it should be higher priority. Also, I sort of cheat in that right now I'm mostly doing the world's wimpiest exercise biking, on a bike that has a built-in desk, and I use that time either to do reading (right now I'm beta reading for someone, for instance), or write fanfic. I could even use that time to do work-writing rather than fanfic-writing. It all depends.

4. Get shower. Because I am so wimpy, even wimpy exercise-biking leaves me drenched in sweat.

5. Make tea. I allow myself one cup of caffeinated tea a day. Right now that's a Republic of Tea black tea flavored with almond, which honestly I don't like all that much--I tried it out of curiosity and discovered the almond flavor didn't agree with me. So when the tin runs out I'll switch it for some other black tea. After that runs out, I start making herbal teas instead. Too much caffeine can trigger mania or hypomania, or just generally screw with my sleep (and screwing with sleep can mess with bipolar cycling--it's a whole Thing), so I try to not to overdo it.

6. Settle in to write. I turn on iTunes, set the whole thing to Shuffle, and attempt to write at least one sentence/song. Most songs are pop/rock songs of 3-4 minutes. This is not a recipe for blazing fast writing. What it is, is conditioning. My brain gets the idea that every time we switch to a new song, I should get back in gear and get writing. My philosophy is that slow and steady wins the race. I don't produce words particularly fast--I know there are fast writers out there, but I'm never going to be one of them. But I do believe that accumulating words a little at a time consistently will also work.

One of my problems is low morale, and a related problem is being intimidated by high goals. So I set low goals. One sentence during a song of that length is eminently doable. In fact, spurred by one thought, I usually end up writing more than one sentence. And that's good! Likewise, when I am at my most depressed--when I can barely string two thoughts together, or when I feel like everything I have ever written is completely worthless, I set my goals very low. As in 250 words/day low. These days I have novels to write so I can't do that forever, but even 250 words/day is better, in terms of sustaining momentum, than 0 words/day. It's simple mathematics. If you write 250 words/day, you can eventually write a novel, even if it takes you a while. Whereas with 0 words/day? You'll never get there.

This is not to say that you should never take a break! I have 0-word days. Weekends are usually dead time because I have family obligations. Sometimes the depression is just too much to deal with. But there is a difference between occasionally taking a break, and never writing. The latter is what I seek to avoid.

In the meantime: what helps you when you're dealing with doubt or depression? Tell me one thing you like about your own writing, if you like. :)


Apr. 25th, 2017 10:09 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: (FMA:B Mustang Hellbound)
By way of [personal profile] likeadeuce:
Name one of my fandoms and I'll answer some questions!

1. the character I least understand
2. interactions I enjoyed the most
3. the character who scares me the most
4. the character who is mostly like me
5. hottest looks character
6. one thing I dislike about my fave character
7. one thing I like about my hated character
8. a quote or scene that haunts me
9. a character I wish died but didn’t
10. my ship that never sailed

(no subject)

Apr. 25th, 2017 05:10 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: Korean tomb art from Silla Dynasty: the Heavenly Horse (Cheonmachong). (Korea cheonmachong)
Rick Riordan Imprint Acquires First Three Titles:
Lee’s book, Dragon Pearl, a standalone middle grade novel, stars Min, a teenage fox spirit whose brother is missing and thought to have deserted the Thousand Worlds Space Forces in order to find the pearl of the title, an artifact that may have the power to save their struggling space colony. Lee says the toughest part of writing for a new audience was working with shorter chapters and a different vocabulary; the idea for the story itself came to him quickly. “I was pretty sure nobody else would come up with a space opera based on Korean mythology,” he said.


The other two, which I am super looking forward to reading, are Roshani Chokshi's Aru Shah and the End of Time, first of a projected quartet about "a 12-year-old Indian-American girl who unwittingly frees a demon intent on awakening the God of Destruction," and Jennifer Cervantes's Storm Runner, "about a 13-year-old boy who must save the world by unraveling an ancient Mayan prophecy." I may have to fight my daughter over who gets to read them first. =D =D =D

Anyway, that's what I'm working on right now!

Con or Bust is live!

Apr. 24th, 2017 04:29 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: Gunn pointing his finger (AtS Gunn)
Con or Bust, which helps fans of color attend sf/f conventions, is running its annual auction to raise funds. Please consider taking a look and perhaps bidding on something or signal-boosting! Offerings include signed books and ARCs, critiques, jewelry, food, and other items. (Be sure to check whether shipping is offered to your country--for food particularly this can be an issue due to customs.)

I am offering a critique of a full novel up to 120,000 words, which I will honor through the end of 2017, and return within 60 days of receipt of the manuscript. I hope some of y'all will consider bidding or spreading the word. =)

Drawing tutorials

Apr. 24th, 2017 07:01 pm[personal profile] green_knight
green_knight: (Konfuzius)
By chance I stumbled across this set of tutorials (hosted by one particular piece of software, but completely agnostic, you don't even need to work digitally).

In fact, the tutorial that made me go 'oooooh' was


which teaches you how to draw a dragon, complete with anatomy. (I like this way of working. Iz impressed.)

The horse one is mostly accurate (it gets one coat pattern wrong and most of the horses move much stiffer than they should) but there's nothing egregiously _wrong_, so I hope that the other species - cats, big cats, foxes, wolves - are equally accurate.

I am starting to see the first improvements in my drawing - the lines I draw are smoother and more confident - so I'm hoping to eventually move out the line exercise phase into one where I actually begin to draw stuff.

Right now, these tutorials are way beyond me - I could copy the lines, but I cannot decide where they should go and vary postures or phases of the stride - but if I squint sideways, I can see there from here.
green_knight: (Default)
After a brush with a virus-infected website a few days ago, I decided to install Bitdefender (we have a household licence), scanned my computer, and so far, so good.

It very soon got under my skin. The application is designed to always run - but how that's implemented is a) a menu bar app (so far, so good), and b) the main app is running ALL THE TIME, telling you that you are (or are not) protected. Every hour, it updates its virus definitions, and sends you a notification. (You can turn this off, but still.)

I hate the interface of the app. It's black and blocky and intrusive and I find dark blocky interfaces stressful. If your website contains a black navigation strip at the top, I will either not visit it or block the top of my screen because IT STRESSES ME OUT TO VIEW THIS ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

So you can guess what Bitdefender's dark intrusive, impossible-to-kill interface was doing to me. You can quit the app, but it comes back immediately. It's not needed - the menu bar app is perfectly capable of doing the background scanning etc - but it just sits there and glares at me.

And it's sneaky. I know that what it tries to out-sneak is malware writers, but you cannot kill it with any of the options built into the system - it does not play well with the system, it circumvents the usual settings, all so that it can shove its dark, ugly interface into your field of vision.

I've uninstalled the app. I will eventually reinstall it (or something else) to protect my computer, but right now, protecting my mental health was a priority.

Sometimes, I hate programmers.
green_knight: (Writing)
I've been using Storyist (Mac-only) for three or four years now, and I am completely and utterly in love with this software.

Right now, it's available as part of a bundle containing a lot of other useful software (Aurora is a decent photo editor; Scapple is my mind map of choice, and a number of the rest of apps in the bundle look very yummy, too.)

Storyist works on the same principle as Scrivener (it also has an iOS app which I use frequently; though there's no Windows version if you need that); but for me the main difference is that I found Scrivener unintuitive and clunky: if you want to use it, you need to work through a lengthy tutorial and watching these five videos, and at the end of all that I still felt that I needed to mould my workflow to please the software rather than the other way round.

With Storyist, I felt inspired from the moment I first opened it, and it has improved my workflow tremendously.

I use the side-by-side feature extensively; and it's made a big difference to my writing: the fewer things I need to hold in my head, the more capacity I have for writing.

I like the ability to have the same document side by side, so you can keep writing while scrolling through and pulling up previous scenes for comparison. I've worked with two documents side by side when translating, but mostly, I will pull up relevant information in the second pane while never losing my place in the main one. For characters, I simply dump descriptions in there; but I may also keep reference photos, maps and diagrams. Recently I wrote a council scene where everybody was sitting around a table - having a seating plan made it possible to consider who would hear a whispered remark, who might inadvertently (or deliberately) step on someone else's toes, whether my protagonist would see a speaker's expression or not... it made for a much better scene.

I've also used Storyist for editing so I can keep characters and their quirks straight - this means that the descriptions of a technology remain coherent, but not identical. If a phrase is repeated too often, or all characters use the exact same phrase all of the time, readers will notice. At the same time, you want a certain consistency in how characters describe a new technology like mind speech or FTL travel: how does it feel, what metaphors do they use, does it _mean_ something if one character experiences it differently. And you don't want descriptions to differ between books, so you need to write them down _somewhere_... and I've found Storyist to be perfect for that.

As a bonus, you get outlining and notecard tools which are pretty good - I don't use them that often, but they're worth mentioning. This is a tool that will work in oh-so-many ways for very different workflows. I can't emphasise how much difference it has made to me to have all of my materials - different mss, notes, images - in one place, and to be able to access them without losing my place in the running text.

So if you haven't tried this kind of tool, now is a good time; $29 is as good a price as you're going to get (Storyist has a free trial!) and you'll get a bunch of other apps into the bargain.


Apr. 20th, 2017 11:49 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
From the handout at the Borderlands reading:

CHERIS: Every card in this deck is the Deuce of Gears!

JEDAO: Only way to play!

(This is only funny if you've read the book or, possibly, "The Battle of Candle Arc.")

sketches of the day

Apr. 20th, 2017 11:46 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: kitty using bullet journal as pillow (bullet journal)
Or: your daily catten.

Top: a napping catten.
Bottom: she moved!

Ink: Diamine Eclipse.
Pen: Conklin crescent-filler.

and a sketch of the dragon in her Hamilton T-shirt )
yhlee: a circle of silver moths/butterflies on a dark background (hxx Nirai)
Because someone requested one. I've also added it to my website.

High faction
Hexarch Rahal Iruja
Emblem: the scrywolf (also known as "execution wolf")
Motto: many lenses, one mind
Colors: gray and bronze
Faction ability: signifier scrying, which helps them in interrogations, but is not as good as actual mind-reading--think of it as slightly more reliable Tarot readings. and more )

Since I am a tease, I will admit that my continuity bible also includes write-ups of the major characters and what they all think of each other, but I am not sharing on the grounds that it would spoil the entire trilogy!

Kiss Him, Not Me

Apr. 18th, 2017 10:59 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: red and black tentacle heart pendant (tentacle heart)
The latest anime Joe picked out for our Bad Anime Date Night turned out to be Mostly Good Anime Date Night: Kiss Him, Not Me. There are parts of the premise that I was not thrilled with, but you can go in with a summary and skip episodes one, two, and four and you're good to go for the rest. There are twelve episodes in total; we watched on Crunchyroll.

So, the premise: Serinuma is a fat high school girl and fujoshi (a female fan of m/m relationships in media). Her current anime crush is the character Shion from the Mirage Saga. When Shion dies in the season finale of Mirage Saga, she is thrown into a week-long funk in which she doesn't eat. This causes her to lose weight and become conventionally really, really hot. At this point, three hot guys who she used to, uh, perv on with her friend, another fujoshi, start hitting on her; fourth hot guy also goes along because he likes people but is kind of oblivious as to the situation. And a few episodes in, a hot, rich, doujinshi-drawing lesbian also falls for Serinuma--she was actually looking for Serinuma at their school earlier, because Serinuma sent her fanmail about one of her doujinshi, and they are basically kindred spirits, but she had first met Serinuma when she was fat and didn't recognize thin!Serinuma. The anime follows the shenanigans that happen as the four hot guys + Shima (the lesbian) attempt to court Serinuma without letting anyone else "gain an advantage."

What I'm not thrilled with: I have the first volume of the manga, which felt like it treated the weight issue a little better. In the anime, Serinuma's seiyuu voices Serinuma in a more parodic manner when she's fat vs. when she's thin. I also think three of the four hot guys are assholes for basically ignoring Serinuma before she becomes hot and therefore "worthy" of their attention, although there is some character growth later on. Episode 1 introduces Serinuma-as-fat, episode 2 briefly has some fat jokes so your choice as to whether you want to deal with that or just skip the episode (it's not crucial and is not one of the funnier ones), and episode 4 5 [thanks to [personal profile] actiaslunaris for the correction] features a brief subplot in which Serinuma temporarily gains her weight back and then loses it again, and how the guys react to that.

What I loved: Serinuma is a sweetheart, and I really liked her a lot. The mangaka apparently is/was a fujoshi, so the viewpoint is sympathetic toward fans of BL (boys' love). Serinuma and Shima are hilariously enthusiastic in all sorts of recognizably fannish ways, most notably during the shipping war episode in which one of them ships AxB and the other ships BxA [1]. And of course there's a lot of meta humor referring to otome games and so on.

[1] Yup, noncommutative notation.

And, best of all? The anime sticks the landing in a way that is completely supported structurally by the opening. I'll put spoilers in ROT13:

Va gur ynfg rcvfbqr, gur svir jub unir pehfurf ba Frevahzn unir pbasrffrq gurve srryvatf gb ure, naq va beqre gb qrpvqr jub fur'f vagrerfgrq va, Frevahzn qngrf rnpu bar sbe n qnl. Va gur raq, ubjrire, nf fur'f ylvat va ure ebbz gelvat gb hachmmyr ure srryvatf, fur'f jngpuvat gur GI, naq vg gheaf bhg gung Zventr Fntn vf tbvat gb unir n frpbaq frnfba va juvpu Fuvba jvyy or oebhtug onpx sebz gur qrnq. Frevahzn fubjf hc gb gnyx gb ure svir fhvgbef naq oyhegf bhg gung ure gehr srryvatf ner (fgvyy) sbe gur navzr punenpgre Fuvba (erzrzore, gur qrcgu bs ure qribgvba gb Fuvba jnf jung tbg ure vagb guvf fvghngvba gb ortva jvgu!) naq fur onooyrf bhg ure cynaf gb cvpx hc zrepunaqvfr naq fb ba, naq gura qnfurf bss, jvgu gur bgure svir ehaavat nsgre ure. Vg jnf cresrpg. V jnf greevsvrq gung gurl jrer tbvat gb cnve ure jvgu Zhgfhzv, gur avpr thl jub vavgvnyyl jnfa'g rira njner ur unq srryvatf sbe ure; univat ure raq hc jvgu Fuvzn jbhyq unir jbexrq, ohg guvf raqvat--jurer Frevahzn vf gehr gb ure shwbfuv angher--vf rira orggre, V guvax.

There are other fun bits, like parody references to popular anime/manga (Grey Butler, Attack on something-that-wasn't-Titan, Prince of Badminton), the obligatory ghost episode...man, I hope there's fic for this show. Especially if it goes to the parody place, the harem place, or the meta place (or all three!).

The problem with problematic

Apr. 18th, 2017 03:19 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: Shuos Jedao (Hellspin Fortress) (hxx Jedao 1x10^6)
Hi! I'm trans. I'm queer. I would like to talk about trans characters who end up dead in the course of story, or queer characters who are not the heroes of the story, and why that is frequently completely all right with me; and why the frequent labeling of works as "problematic" for not portraying trans (etc.) characters as paragons of virtue is itself a problem.

I will also, in this essay, be discussing Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning as an example. This is not a review of Palmer's novel, of which I have only read 153 pages; I am not going to venture an opinion on the rest of the book so please don't ask me to. But it's a perfect example of the phenomenon I will be discussing.

I had seen a discussion on Twitter where someone said that they would not be reading Palmer's novel because they had heard from trans and nonbinary friends that her depiction of gender was "hurtful." That immediately made me uneasy, but at that time I had not read the book. I went ahead and got it out of the library because I was curious.

Too Like the Lightning is set on Earth several centuries in the future, and the future is very different from our society in ways that are fascinating and alienating. One thing about this future is that it claims to have wiped out sexism by virtue of gender expression having been made taboo. The pronoun that everyone uses is "they/them/their."

That's not the part, I presume, that was deemed hurtful. I conjecture that it was instead a choice that Palmer makes through her narrator, Mycroft. Mycroft is a criminal who is serving out a sentence of lifetime slave labor, and while his society uses they/them/their, as narrator he (yes, "he") uses pronouns ("he" or "she") to gender characters. That's not where it ends. You see, Mycroft doesn't gender characters based on genetic sex, or identification (at least in the first 153 pages, it is absolutely not clear how people identify, if they even care). He genders them based at least partly on social roles and his interpretation of "gendered" behavior archetypes.

Now, I can completely sympathize with someone, especially a trans or nonbinary someone, noping out of Palmer's novel due to the use of pronouns. I am personally of the opinion that you can refuse to leisure-read a book for any reason you damn well please, and I can see why that would hit a sore spot. (To reiterate: we're talking about leisure reading here, things you read of your own will.) But I do not agree that Palmer's worldbuilding here was problematic, and I do not think she should have been discouraged from writing this future.

For one thing, Mycroft belongs to what is effectively an alien culture, and he's an unreliable narrator who also happens to be something of an asshole. I don't know about you, but I personally don't expect an asshole from several centuries in the future to adhere to polite 21st century American (or whatever) standards of pronoun usage. He wouldn't have any reason to.

For another, it was clear to me from fairly early on that Palmer's future was a dystopia telling itself that it was a utopia. I mean, when the very narrator is enslaved for life, even for the crime that he committed (I only read 153 pages, but I went ahead and looked up spoilers), that warns me of possible dystopia. I figured out, and Mycroft even states--for what that's worth, given his probable unreliability--that gender expression is not in fact completely dead despite this society's best efforts, it's just gone subterranean.

"But is it hurtful?" you ask.

I feel this is the wrong question.

Individuals are hurt by whatever hurts them. And that's not always something an author can predict--given the number of individuals in this world that's a losing proposition, to try to write a work that never hurts anyone. I was not hurt by Palmer's exploration of gender and society and use of pronouns, but again, trans people are not a monolith; and I want to be clear that people who noped out of the novel because of the pronouns (or any other reason) are entirely within their rights. I do think she was doing something interesting and definitely science fictional and that that's fine, and that she should not have been prevented from writing with this device.

Let me tackle this from another angle. There is a class of narratives about trans people that hurts me, personally, that I avoid the fuck ever reading if I have a choice in the matter. But that does not mean that this class of narratives should not be written, or even that there should be content warnings for this class of narratives. Because that class of narratives is "trans stories with happy trans characters and happy endings." I actively find these stories painful to read because they remind me of the suck aspects of my existence and the fact that I'm not getting a happy ending. But does this mean these stories shouldn't be written? Fuck no! These stories are important and vital, and other readers should get a chance to read them.

All this just to say--readers are so individual in their reactions that "never write something hurtful" is untenable.

I think this is related to the going trend these days, which is to ask authors not to write works that are "problematic." But what do we really mean by that? Analysis of, say, racist or sexist elements in media is valuable, and we need more of it. But sometimes what I see is not that, but "don't write problematic works" in the sense of "don't write things that I consider hurtful."

And one of the manifestations of this trend is the call for trans characters (or nonbinary, or lesbian, etc.--I'm going to stick with just trans here, for simplicity's sake, but it holds in general) only to be portrayed in a positive light. The argument goes that trans characters are so often vilified that we should counter that by only writing them as heroes or paragons, and that they should get happy endings.

I call shenanigans.

Trans people are human beings, capable of the full range of human expression. So yes, depicting a trans person as being evil because they are trans is problematic in the useful sense of the word. But a trans person could be a villain and just incidentally also happen to be trans. I am personally all right with this. It's limiting to insist that trans characters only have positive character traits, only ever take on heroic roles and never those of the villains, that trans characters should never die in the course of the story (I for one enjoy a good death-for-the-cause, including by trans characters). It's insulting to insist that trans characters be given some kind of plot armor from bad things happening to them because they're trans, the mirror-image of having trans characters come to bad ends because they're trans. In fact, I would argue that flattening trans characters to paper-cutout heroes is just as dehumanizing as flattening them to silhouette villains.

This is related to the combinatorics of writing and representation. As soon as you say that trans characters can only be good guys [1] because any other use is "problematic," and lesbians can only be good gals, and so on down the line, you end up with...what? The villains can only be cis het white men, by virtue of being the only category left over? Cardboard trans villain might be bad craft, but so are cardboard cis het white men villains!

[1] My dad, for whom English is a second language, uses "guy" as a gender-neutral word with me and my sister growing up, so that's how I always think of it.

Or you might end up with worldbuilding where, in order to have (say) trans lesbian villains, you end up having to make the entire cast trans lesbians, because at least then you're not singling out trans lesbians as being evil. Which is definitely a valid worldbuilding/casting choice--but it shouldn't be the only choice.

I agonized over this with the Machineries of Empire at one point, because I was getting down to the point where my series villain was a gay man. My beta readers pointed out that given that (a) almost everyone was evil and (b) almost everyone was queer, that was okay. (There's a token straight guy in book two...and he's trans. Also a good guy.) But I shouldn't have to line up the dominoes this way in every setting that I create!

Returning to the question of hurtfulness, it's not that your feelings don't matter--it's that there is no universal response, just as I was not bothered by Ada Palmer's pronouns in Too Like the Lightning while others were. The sane response is for people who don't like an aspect of a story to quit out of it. When I realize I'm reading a story about happy trans people and that it's going to wreck me, I stop reading. No one's holding a gun to my head forcing me to read, especially since I have no intention of ever taking a literature class again in my life.

Even problematic books may be providing something vital to certain readers that they can't get elsewhere. My go-to example for this is my being trans and the novels of Jack L. Chalker. Chalker is notorious for having written novels featuring sex changes, and he most notably lingers on male to female sex changes where, to be blunt about it, men are turned into sex-addicted bimbos. I do not recommend those books to anyone today--to anyone really. Are those books problematic, in the genuine and meaningful sense of the word? Yes, absolutely. I'm sure a more masochistic reader could get essays out of Chalker's construction of gender roles in his sf/f novels.

But when I was a high schooler in South Korea, those books were my lifeline. Chalker was one of the very rare writers (Piers Anthony--yes, Piers Anthony) being the other--who depicted sex changes at all. I am not going to argue that he wrote nuanced depictions of trans people, but back then, that was what I had, and I was grateful to have it. Sure, there were plenty of other books--in which people like me didn't exist at all. Even imperfect representation meant a lot to me.

My observation is that it is rare that a book is "virtuous" on all axes at once, and also rare that a book is "problematic" on all axes at once. Again, you can always refuse to read a book for any reason you want--maybe it has an orange cover, or it uses the letter "e" too much, or you hate pirate characters--but I think it is poisonous to insist, as a general cultural standard, that books pass a fucking purity test in order to be deemed worthy of reading. Because, again--a book that "fails" one test may be the only book that passes another one that you are not even aware of.

Test Post

Apr. 18th, 2017 01:27 pm[personal profile] lizvogel
lizvogel: text: I have more userpics on Dreamwidth (more userpics on Dreamwidth)
I just turned on beta testing for the "HTTPS Everywhere" feature -- this is just to make sure I can, in fact, actually post via my ancient browser and snail-slow internet connection.

ETA: Yup, that worked just fine.
persis: (Default)
Happy Spring, all my friends, old and new.

Welcome to Dreamwidth, those of you who are just migrating from LJ. NEFFA looms at the end of this week; if you are in the greater Boston area, come to Mansfield Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If you are leaning towards the North, head to FKO and Costume-Con in Toronto the same dates. Sorry, my transporter is in the shop.

I have lots of thoughts, but sometimes not enough spoons to get them written down. Hopefully this will change? I miss the commmunity of LJ. FB is just not the same (although does have its uses).

I need to figure out how to upload pictures that are in the cloud, as most of my pictures are taken with iPhone or iPad. Thoughts?

More later. :-)

Very small grump

Apr. 18th, 2017 12:13 am[personal profile] green_knight
green_knight: (Spitting Cobra)
Cannot buy bin liners for our food bin (only approved liners allowed, but not provided by Council) from the one source they're allowing online: I went to the site, tried to put them into my shopping cart, found the site hideously slow, and then got a fake virus warning from 'safe-guard.com' which mimics (badly) the Apple website and which informed me that my system was infected with (3) Viruses! and that I needed to remove them immediately.

Just in case, I zapped all my cookies/caches (there went my LJ cookie; I'd known I'd have to accept the new ToS at some point, oh well) and am currently scanning my system for viruses just in case. (Nothing found.)

Tomorrow's job will be to get someone else (cough, cough) to buy more binliners over the phone...

Hamilton report

Apr. 17th, 2017 07:53 am[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: Hamilton musical (Hamilton musical)
I watched Hamilton in San Francisco with my sister on Friday, April 14. It was my sister's generosity that allowed me to have this opportunity (she bought the tickets). I actually stopped listening to the soundtrack, with the maybe-exception of the Rudolph Red-Nosed Reindeer parody that [personal profile] isis linked to waaaaay back, as a sort of preparation because I didn't want to burn out on the music before I saw the musical.

Disclaimers: the last musical I saw live was Rent on Broadway (my mom's friend who lives in Scarsdale took me), in 1998. So, uh, it's been a few years. Before that, I saw a couple musicals in Seoul (the ones I remember are Cats and Les Misérables), plus whatever our high school drama department put on. I don't even really have high school drama club background, so my vocabulary for theater-type things is very impoverished; I did do some volunteering with the drama club but it was to, uh, do the programs because no one else wanted to do them. XD I have a reasonably good ear, but my background is in piano and viola, and I have zero background in voice, so you're going to get handwavy descriptions of all the singing. So sorry!

Other disclaimer: when I refer to "left" or "right," it's from the audience's viewpoint. I can barely tell them apart to begin with; if I try to flip it in my head to "stage left" and "stage right," I'm going to get confused. Sorry!

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Song of Durin

Apr. 17th, 2017 09:35 am[personal profile] green_knight
green_knight: (Haunting)
(via [personal profile] thnidu)


End of an Era

Apr. 15th, 2017 01:22 am[personal profile] green_knight
green_knight: (Default)
I have just renamed the folder in which I have saved a draft from 'LJ posts' to 'DW posts'.

Which is only acknowledging a process that has happened over several years: first I turned on crossposting, then I asked people to comment on DW, then I turned off LJ comments altogether, then crossposts. In the meantime, I read on DW first, commented on DW, friended new people with journals on both sides on DW... LJ was pretty much a backup location for me, with the exception of a couple of people I don't want to lose touch with. (And might have, if they decide to delete now.)

But DW isn't just a 'backup Livejournal'; it has grown into it's own thing. Maybe it's time to embrace that. I have closed my LJ friends list which always sat on the left edge of my browser and moved my DW rlist there.

Here's to good times and good people on DW!
zeborah: Zebra in grass smelling a daisy (gardening)
It may not be quite worth quitting my day job just yet, but so far so somewhat successful!

Late last year I ate a supermarket rockmelon and, on a whim, planted some of the seeds from it. (I do this from time to time with various supermarket foods. The roots from spring onions are very prolific. Mandarin and persimmon seeds both turn into small trees, but it may be some more years before I find out whether or not they'll ever fruit.)

To my delight, the seeds sprouted. I gave a couple to a sibling (who planted them in an enclosed patch which was promptly intruded upon and the seedlings nommed by an anonymous animal) and planted a couple out in my own garden. One got smothered by weeds I think. The other started putting out little yellow flowers, similar to other cucurbit flowers but smaller and a little paler.

And then I noticed a baby melon. Now I am familiar with the ways of cucurbits (particularly tricksy pumpkins) and fully expected this to almost immediately be reabsorbed by the plant. But instead it grew. And grew. And...

Well, look, it was March by now so it didn't grow a lot. It was just surprising that it grew at all. I figured I'd leave it on the wee vine for as long as I could and then see what could be salvaged.

Cyclone Cook struck (much attenuated in Christchurch, but still very wet) and when I went out to inspect the garden I discovered the melon was scratched - I suspect an animal, exacerbated by rain. There wasn't much sign of leaves left to help it grow so I called this as good as it was going to get and brought it inside.

Small rockmelon

And cut it open and - it was nearly ripe!

Small rockmelon halves

Obviously there wasn't nearly as much flesh was you'd expect from a rockmelon, but it proved perfectly edible. I scooped it out like I would a kiwifruit or tamarillo - there was about as much of it as one of those too. :-)

Small rockmelon shells

Next season I'll plant some of the seeds I reserved from the supermarket rockmelon earlier in the season and see if I can grow a full-size melon - or two. :-)

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