An embarrassing misunderstanding

Nov. 26th, 2014 10:59 pm
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
[personal profile] owlectomy
When I first heard the song "Big Yellow Taxi," as a teenager, I thought "A big yellow taxi took away my old man" referred to some Logan's Run-type dystopia that would take away old people to kill them. It wasn't until many years later when I heard the whole album "Blue" that I realized that her "old man" was probably her lover. And it took me even longer to realize that he wasn't being taken away by the Secret Government, he was leaving because he wanted to leave.

And now I remember why that song meant something to me: across the road from my house was a wood where I used to see deer sometimes. And I watched them bulldoze it to put up more houses in my development. I was kind of bitter about that.

Hivemind question: Broken pie crust

Nov. 26th, 2014 11:45 am
[personal profile] yendi
So we got a two-pack of GF pie crusts from Whole Foods. The second one was basically shattered. What are good ideas for broken pie crusts? Crumbles? Messy pies? Other thoughts?
[personal profile] yendi
(Hit my username for deal posts from the last few days; most of the DVD ones are still active.)

The Deal of the Day gets you a ton of Fisher Price and Mattel toys for 50% off. There are 50+ choices here, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Monster High, Thomas the Train, BOOMco, and more.

The new Kindle (regular e-ink version) is $99 (28% off), and Amazon's throwing in six months of Kindle Unlimited.

Speaking of the Kindle, cheap Kindle books include Andy Weir's The Martian for $3, Ernie Cline's Ready Player One for $3.99, and Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes for $3.75.

X-Men: First Class is down to $3.99 on Blu-Ray! Note that the Amazon price is backordered, so listed under "Other Sellers on Amazon" on the right. It'll probably go away soon, but it's an awesome deal.

The Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital editions of A Million Ways to Die in the West and Neighbors are $11.99 (60% off) each. If you want something with slightly better word-of-mouth, Monster High Double Feature - Friday Night Frights / Why Do Ghouls Fall in Love is $3.99 (73% off) on DVD.

You can get The Spy Who Loved Me on Blu-Ray for $3.99, and Casino Royale on DVD for $3.99. Both are over 73% off.

Oblivion is $7.99 (77% off) on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital.

In video games, Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition for the Xbox 360 is $9.99 (67% off).

And finally, in toys, the K'nex Hyperspeed Hangtime Roller Coaster Building Set is $29.99 (57% off).

(no subject)

Nov. 25th, 2014 09:52 am
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
[personal profile] sanguinity
Well, of all possible ways to learn that there isn't a battery in the smoke detector (??) (...!?!?!?!?!!), I suppose that's one of the better ones.

("That," in this case, being my messing around with the oven before I had my caffeine. It really was an impressive amount of smoke.)

Note to self: get a battery in there when I come home from work. There is WAY too much smoke in the house to put a battery in that thing now.


Nov. 25th, 2014 10:27 am
[personal profile] yendi
I went to bed last night before the Ferguson lack of indictment was announced. But I can't say I was surprised. Disappointed, but not surprised. Between the decision to announce at night and the gathering of police, it was pretty obvious that they were not going to indict Darren Wilson, and that the local government was doing its best to make the situation as awful as possible (The Onion's pre-decision headline, "Heavy Police Presence In Ferguson To Ensure Residents Adequately Provoked," was dead-on).

As Newsweek noted a few months ago, prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch pretty much sides with the cops every time. And as just about everyone has noted, damned near any prosecutor can get a grand jury indictment. the famous quote by Sol Wachtler about prosecutors convincing grand juries to "indict a ham sandwich" being pretty accurate. Of course, as 538 notes, cops are the exception. It's almost like they're a protected class, allowed to abuse the law with impunity. If you prefer more right-wing sources, here's Reason noting the same thing. If you prefer less integrity-driven right-wing sources, National Review is all over things arguing that cops are the victims here. I won't link to their bile.

I'm disgusted and disappointed and horrified and angry. And (as Colleen Lindsay noted), the very fact that those, and not fear, are my emotions is about as much of a sign of privilege as anything.

Doing a rare thing and disabling comments here; between work and other stuff, I don't have a lot of web time today, and frankly, there are plenty of places for folks to have a conversation if they want it. Take care of yourself.
[personal profile] yendi
The Deal of the Day is on assorted Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movie and video game sets for 66-75% off.

The Kindle Daily Deal is on Edna Buchanan's Cold Case Squad for $1.99 (91% off).

There are a handful of $1.99 DVDs: Mr. Popper's Penguins, Spaceballs, and Mallrats.

The LEGO Movie on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital is $17.96 (50% off).

The Shield: The Complete Collection is $24.99 (62% off) on DVD. Season 1 of Chicago PD is a ludicrously low $5 (89% off). And Season 1 of The Blacklist on Blu-Ray is $14.96 (80% off). That's the same price as on DVD, but James Spader's hat deserves the proper HD treatment.

For Android users, the Amazon App Store for Android has Jack Lumber for free today. I've played and love the Mac version of this (which came in one the zillion Humble Bundles), and it's certainly worth grabbing at that "price."
[personal profile] yendi
For the crafters out there, the Deal of the Day is on a selection Singer Sewing Machines at 68% off. I'm not going to pretend to be knowledgable enough to know how good these machines are.

In DVD/Blu Ray, aside from the awesome Star Trek: TNG deal mentioned yesterday (and the deals on Fight Club, Se7en, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Mr Peabody and Sherman, Guardians of the Galaxy, and How to Train Your Dragon 2 are also active), there are also big weeklong deals on Murder, She Wrote: The Complete Series ($76.49/72% off on DVD), Homeland ($14.99-$22.99 per season depending on DVD/Blu-Ray and the season itself, but all 50-63% off), and Hell on Wheels ($12.99-$22.49, again depending on season and format).

The Man of Steel Collectible Figurine Limited Edition Gift Set with Blu-Ray/DVD/Ultraviolet is $15 (67% off). It comes with a couple of awesome-looking figurines. It also, unfortunately, comes with the movie Man of Steel.

Speaking of bad movies, Transformers: Age of Extinction is $13 for the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital edition. And Home Alone: The Complete Collection is $8 (73% off).

For things I'm more likely to want to watch, Good Will Hunting is $5 (67% off) on DVD. Season 3 of Person of Interest on Blu-Ray is $14.99 (79% off). Band of Brothers and The Pacific on Blu-Ray are $22.99 (63% off and 71% off, respectively) each.

If you need a player, the LG Electronics BP340 Blu-Ray Disc Player with Internet Applications and Built-In Wi-Fi is $49 (51% off, about $20 below other vendors after shipping).

In video games, the Skylanders Trap Team Starter Pack is $39.99 (47% off, and about $15 under any other seller) for just about every platform.

And finally, in toys, LEGO Minecraft The Village is $31.64 (10% off, but really a good $10 below what you'll find elsewhere online). A lot of the other LEGO Minecraft toys are similarly discounted.

Hunh. Interesting LJ feature

Nov. 23rd, 2014 11:48 am
[personal profile] yendi
So when I made my Amazon post this morning, of course I screwed up the HTML. But when I opened the entry to edit it, I couldn't find any problem, and spent nearly ten minutes trying to figure out what had happened.

It turns out that when you screw up HTML in an LJ entry by putting in double quotation marks (a not-uncommon mistake for me, which is why the first thing I do is a search for two quotes), and then go to the "edit" page, LJ will strip the second quote out, and thus you can just hit save after opening up the edit screen, and you'll be set.

Of course, since I didn't know that, I spent ages on that damned edit screen trying to fix a mistake that had been rectified.

Dreamwidth, incidentally, does not do the same thing.
[personal profile] yendi
The Deal of the Day is on assorted Logitech Products, with various gaming mice, keyboards, cameras, and other items going for 50-55% off.

The other DotD is on the first four seasons of Downton Abbey, which can be had for $36.99 on DVD and $39.99 on Blu-Ray (63-64% off). That's under $10 a season either way.

The Blu-Ray Tenth Anniversary edition of Fight Club is $3.99 (84% off), while Se7en on Blu-Ray is $6.99 (53% off)!

Star Trek: TNG Season 1 is $19.99 (74% off) on Blu-Ray, while Season 2 is $31.99 (75% off).

2014 animated releases on sale include the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital combo pack of Mr. Peabody and Sherman for $13.99 (65% off and cheaper than the standard DVD version), the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital combo pack of How to Train Your Dragon 2 for $17.99 (54% off), and pre-orders of an obscure art-house flick called Guardians of the Galaxy in a 3D/Blu-Ray/Digital combo pack for $19.99 (50% off).

And in live-action, X-Men: Days of Future Past is $14.99 (63% off) on Blu-Ray and $9.99 (67% off) on DVD.

And finally, in books (especially holiday gift-season books), Walter Isaacson's The Innovators is $21 (40% off), while Randall Munroe's What If is also 40% off, at $14.40.
erika: (quotes: too fucking busy)
[personal profile] erika
This winter I appear to be bouncing back and forth between sane/numb erika and crazy/happy/moody erika.

Sane/numb erika are Abilify days.

Today is not an Abilify day.

When I take it, I lose my creativity, and some part of my intelligence. Maybe my curiosity... maybe something less tangible that happens when you go from being in full command of your intellectual faculties and then suddenly only have 80% control.

But I'm not crippled by overwhelming anxiety and suffering.

As I said to a friend, "it's like Sophie's fucking Choice up in here."

I go through. I continue. Persevere. I have learned the meaning of those words. To keep an intimate relationship, I keep more things to myself, and I have learned the value of privacy to understand the currency of communication.

Communication disseminates information and can easily lead to intimacy, and therefore is an important as hell part of the work in relationships itself.

In a fact that will surprise no one who knows my parents, the communication skills I learned growing up are largely limited to threats and control-freak manipulative behavior.

It's been a real fucking pleasure to have to learn to express needs like an adult. If I were in charge of The Force, it would be vulnerability that leads to the Dark Side, so that's been a real fucking challenge, too.

(That having been said, it's still unclear to me why I haven't been journalling. Just haven't had the time, really, I suppose. More entries, but shorter than the norm seems likely.)

Actually talking to your partner is fucking important, evidently. I would say who knew, but let's be honest, everyone but me did.

Esperanza. But I won't wait, while I hope. I fight, I scheme, I build, I try my best. I do it every day, and it doesn't get any easier, but at least it hasn't gotten worse. And I like the results.

Carve it on my fucking tombstone. it's not quite Dorothy Parker*, but "She always tried her best" will do.

*Wherever she went,
including here,
it was against her better judgment.

[personal profile] yendi
Anyone who's followed me over the last ten years knows I normally do a huge amount (possibly as much as a metric fuckton) of Amazon deal posts around this time of the year.

Alas, both work and life outside of work are incredibly busy this year (and a week of business travel didn't help), so finding time for the posts is going to be harder than before. I'll still be posting, but don't expect them every single day as before (although I'll certainly have a big on on Black Friday).

That said, Amazon's current Deal of the Day is How I Met Your Mother: The Complete SeriesHow I Met Your Mother: The Complete Series for $64.99 (64% off), about $7 a season (and you get the alternate and better ending). Note that while some reviews report issues with the packaging, there are more recent reviews suggesting that it's been fixed.

Also on DVD, The Three Stooges: The Ultimate Collection is $29.99 (69% off).

And in video games, Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW! - Collector's Edition for the 3DS is $8.08 (73% off), and comes with the nifty BMO Steel Book (and some other stuff).

For the board gamers, the updated release of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is $59.99 (over $40 off). Note that only 11 are left at that price.

And because no pre-Thanksgiving season would be complete without Amazon discounting slow cookers, the 5-Quart Hamilton Beach 33957 Programmable Stay or Go Slow Cooker is $29.99 (40% off and about $8 below other deals), and the 6-Quart Hamilton Beach 33969A Set 'n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker is $39.99 (20% off, but actually nearly $20 below other vendors).

Power pop goodness :D

Nov. 21st, 2014 10:49 pm
shadowspar: Members of the band B'z, surrounded by fey fire (b'z fire)
[personal profile] shadowspar

Aaaa, this blast from the past rolled around on my partner's spotify tonight. So much power pop goodness...I have ~feels~ about this song. ^_^;

Also notable: apparently Weezer did a cover of this song for the movie Cars 2. It's pretty good! They didn't stray very far from the original. =)

Good progress

Nov. 20th, 2014 08:02 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
More PT this week. I am successfully doing the sets of exercises every day.

I still have the flu, tired and vaguely sick, fever varying between 99 and 100, yet am functional. Way more functional than when I wasn't sick but was having a flare up of joint pain. As I think this over I am undoing some hidden levels of blaming myself and worrying that it's my fault or I am specially wimpy or malingering. It is obviously not my fault and I'm tough as nails.

Also maybe I am just not hit that hard by it since I did have a flu shot.

I went out for an hour to the HRDA office party (figuring not contagious if I've had this for nearly 2 weeks) then home again and to bed.

Tomorrow, beta 11 release (specially extended for a week) And then to pain/insomnia therapy and then I will chill out and have a nap. If i feel up to it will go to stef's party. Then swim on the weekend. If I can work up to 2-3 times a week consistently it will be amazing

The portland work week hotel for 1st week of december has a pool. I am going to resolve NOT to try to go out to dinner with people. if i can last the work week sitting up and paying attention and getting back and forth to the hotel it will be ok. d. is going with me and will just work from the hotel. that is amazingly comforting as I won't be stuck and without help if things go wrong physically. and he is super comforting and good to come home to.

I can't tell right this minute if my ankles are stretchy-good hurt or actually hurt. But i ache al over . the PT today was partly some sort of weird pilates machine . and like 20 miutes of lying there trying to move just my lower abdominal muscles, which I am still not sure actually exist. holy crap that was difficult and exhausting. but awesome.
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
[personal profile] tim
I linked to some of these posts in 2013 and in 2012. It bears repeating.

Alyssa Caparas (2011):

I hate what TDoR has come to represent: a queer ‘holiday’ for embracing the narrative of fear; fear of violence, fear of death, self-stigmatization. The co-opting of POC trans women of a very-particular-background’s experiences as those of the ENTIRE trans community, regardless of race, class, or whatever. It’s a day to remind us all why we need to be afraid all the time and I think it’s a bunch of bullshit.

The large majority of people on the lists of the dead are NOT middle class white transwomen or men. They’re lower class PoC & PoC sex workers. I find it incredibly dissrespectful when white, middle, & upper middle class transpeople claim the narratives of transwomen of color & sex workers experiencess as their own. I’m sick of seeing Transbros at TDoR co-opting the narrative of transwomen’s experiences, internalizing them, and feeding those narratives back to everyone, then high-fiving each over how radical & edgey they are. I’m sick of being a Transwoman at TDoR and feeling marginalized by all the gender hipsters who’re there to bump up their scene cred.
(emphasis author's)

erica, ascendant (2012):

because trans identity is so caught up in Caucasianness, a new problem emerges with both the claiming of dead trans people of color altogether: if we weren’t “trans enough” in life, why are we suddenly being counted by the same people who wouldn’t have us once we’re dead? it’s because the idea that it’s dangerous to be trans has to be sold somehow, given that cis people generally ignore violence against trans people regardless of what color we are, and i do have no doubt that it seems like a good idea to use all these names. the trouble is that when this happens without any discussion of race, class, and how violence is often linked to certain types of work, reading our names uncritically is appropriative and using the deaths of people you didn’t care about in life as a vehicle for activism in death. i get that this has to be sold as a concept because cis people are often willfully ignorant that we’re getting killed out here. thing is, there are ways to sell this concept and be conscious of the racial/class/social politics involved herein. i see what the point of TDoR is in terms of public relations, but it isn’t so invaluable that the problematic things about it should go unchecked.
(emphasis author's)

Monica Maldonado, 2012

The truth is, the Trans Day of Remembrance is a day of political grand standing, using the deaths of trans women of colour as a numbers game to buy someone else’s pet project sympathy for votes, dollars, or attention. It’s a day where trans women of colour have greater value dead than we do alive.

We all too often hear that this day is a day where we must not let the deaths of these women be in vain, but this just underscores the transactional nature of these women’s deaths, most of whom fought no war. They lost their lives not in valour, but only as a result of being women in a world filled with gendered violence. They lost their lives because — all too often — our society casts out the disenfranchised and marginalized, no longer calling the huddled masses and tempest-tossed to our communities with heartfelt calls of liberty and virtue.

We should gather to mourn the dead, not conscript them into a battle they never had the privilege to fight while living. It pains me to stand here and remind you that these deaths, of our brothers and sisters and wives and husbands and daughters and sons, that these deaths are senseless tragedies that remain a black mark on society. These deaths are signs of a systemic, institutional, social, economic, and political failure to care for our most vulnerable and marginalized populations. But what may be worse, is the crude politicising of these deaths serves no cause more than that of the same vanity we decry.

Edited to add: Monika Mhz, 2013 (video):

The reading of each mispronounced name that usually happens, mostly from extracontinental locations, acts as a drop of emotional currency for the pimps feeding the masses hungry for misery pornography and serves validation upon their fears. I want to be clear that all fear is real, and I sympathize deeply with the way that events like this -- the general climate of fear, nonlethal violence, and broader aspects of discrimination felt by our community can impact our lives in real ways, regardless of whether or not our risks truly match. But if we are to move forward in creating the change, if we are to move forward in ending the lethal, nonlethal, discursive, institutional and cultural violence that plagues our society, if we're to forge a future where trans women of color's lives are cherished and we don't find reason to feel that we must need to look over our shoulders every waking moment, then we have to be willing to have a real discussion about the violence that faces our community.

fake cis girl, 2013

The dead are us. They’re trans women of color trying to live their damn lives. They’re killed by partners, by clients, by random encounters on the street. I mean, seriously, the silence of white trans people when Islan Nettles was beaten to death walking down the damn street, and even worse the attempts at victim-blaming, were truly horrific…including some invective hurdled about how walking around in the hood comes with such risks. There is such a severe disconnect that part of what would help is that if white trans people in general listened to us this one day a year it could be a catalyst, or so I try to believe. Our realities include much more than how we’re seen in the TDoR list-of-names format: dead people. We are so much more than that, and our realities might be uncomfortable to the “trans community” or maybe, just maybe, the “trans community” will see us as something more than just a list of names of dead people and a bunch of inconvenient bodies and realities to dismiss in life.

Morgan Collado, 2014:

Trans Day of Remembrance is filled to the brim with the names of murdered Black and brown trans women, but is a single evening of remembering enough? And what does it mean that TDoR doesn’t explicitly talk about race and is often dominated by white people? Here in Austin there’s this tradition of calling the names of the dead and then having an audience member sit in a chair that represents where the dead trans woman would sit. The seats are always filled with white people and non-trans women. What do our deaths mean when our bodies, our lives, the physical space we take up, is appropriated by white folks? How can I mourn for my sisters when the space set up for that mourning is so thoroughly colonized? And how can I even see hope of living a full life when I don’t see myself reflected in what is supposed to be my community?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to honor those women who came before us, those women murdered by colonial patriarchy. But it seems like more often than not, the queer community at large is content with just remembering. We only hear about trans women after their deaths. And even our deaths are not our own. A week doesn’t go by without a white queer citing the deaths of trans women of color as the evidence of how oppressed they are. These stats are often used in service of their own assimilation; meanwhile, they’re happy to leave us out in the cold. We don’t even have dignity in death, nor the ability to decide what it will mean for us.

fake cis girl (2014):

TDoR generally sees trans women of color as acceptable losses as a central part of the minstrel show that it is. You can’t have a list of dead trans people without it mostly being dead trans women of color with a significant scattering of disabled trans women, too. This common thread between trans suicide and homicides of trans people is no accident, because the violence of rejection may not be the same force of violence that comes from a killer’s blade, but it’s violence nevertheless, and that violence drives some people to suicide. That violence, unlike the violence of a killer, is tolerated and even encouraged in our community. From Ryan Blackhawke’s since-deleted libelous comments complaining about last year’s version of this article to Andrea James’ harassment to the exclusionary nature of the only spaces trans women have (spaces like Ingersoll) comes this violence, and it needs to stop.

TDoR is still broken and still fails trans women of color. Gwen Smith still keeps the list manicured and controlled for whatever political purpose she’s aiming for, refusing to discuss race on the official site of TDoR itself, a day Ms. Smith continues to claim to “own”, and she hasn’t shown any willingness to change the reprehensible fact that deaths in custody don’t count when trans women are frequently targets of police harassment which disproportionately affects trans women of color, which leads to the logical conclusion that we’re more likely to be victims of police and governmental violence.

Mostly offline this week

Nov. 18th, 2014 05:43 am
[personal profile] yendi
At a conference. Have actually spent most of my non-conference time with dear friends (a trend that will continue tonight). So not only not posting much (a not-uncommon trend these days, alas), but not reading much online (a truly uncommon occurrence). And that extends to other social media services, too, although my day-job Twitter account might get active.

Anyway, hope everyone's doing well.

Still fevery

Nov. 16th, 2014 03:05 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Still running a fever, taking it super easy, doing little bits of housework. I sorted out several armloads of books and filled up the little free library. Played Monument Valley new levels last night with Milo and then again by myself this morning.

I had a brief silly moment of wondering if I have listeria then realized that some sort of flu is more likely. Still it gave me pause and I thought some more about going off the Enbrel experimentally for, say, 6 months.

Read a couple of Tessa Dare romance novels and enjoyed them.

Not realy up to anything creative. It was all puttering and reading and resting. Very domestic.

I was ambitious to go to the hardware store and buy a large flowerpot for my philodendron in the living room and re-pot it, but realized this is unwise, I'm still too sick, maybe this is a situation where not pushing anything will keep the bronchitis away, or whatever.

I got myself a new pair of long underwear as I realize the REI sale extends to the online bit not just the store. And got milo a new pair of jeans off amazon. Levis 513 slim or the gap skinny ones fit him best. Last week he showed up wearing ada's black jeans that have black brocade-style roses all over them and he looked so fantastic. it was subtle, yet glam. he had not noticed that his pants were flowery. Somehow,he has ended up with more pants at his dad's house than here. How does this happen? He comes here in one pair of pants. He leaves in another. How? Maybe there was some point where he was packing to go on a trip, or camping; packed here and unpacked at his dad's.

Earlier this week while going up the hill for groceries I went to the kids' resale store and cruised it for pants for him. but came out with a red velvet dress for ada instead. this may be the very last moment of usefully using up my store credit there. The batch they are both wearing now is the top range of their sizes, so I can resell them and get credit and use it for my nephew... It was so handy to get them cheap clothes there. I'll miss it!

Japanese Literature Ultimate Battle

Nov. 14th, 2014 10:10 am
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
[personal profile] owlectomy
Because I was tweeting with [personal profile] laceblade about Soseki, and Japanese literature, this is the story of my Japanese Literature Ultimate Death Battle.

It's August, 2002. I'm towards the end of a one-year scholarship at Nagasaki University. I figured that it would be a lot easier to finish up my degree in 3 years at McGill than to try to get transfer credit for my Nagasaki U classes, so I wasn't worried about completing requirements for a major; I filled my schedule up with the required Japanese language classes, my advisor's Classical Japanese classes, some linguistics, some fluff that didn't require much linguistic competence (music, pottery), and a class in modern Japanese literature.

The classes in Classical Japanese were too hard for me, but my advisor more or less expected me just to learn to read the handwriting and sort of follow along with the story as best I could. But my professor in Modern Japanese Lit expected me to be roughly on par with the other (native speaker) students. We read The Dancing Girl by Mori Ogai, which was way above my head because of the prewar kana and kanji usage. We read Kokoro by Natsume Soseki, which was easier but still pretty rough. We read a Murakami Haruki short story that was later turned into Norwegian Wood.

So basically I was reading a lot about awful people and suicide, and it was very hard, all the time, on top of the expected language stress and homesickness and isolation.

It came time for my Japanese Literature final exam. There were three essay questions, and I answered two of them without huge problems, but the third was "Answer the question that was written on the blackboard in our last class."

To this day I do not know why I did not copy down the question on the blackboard. Did I skip that class? Did I write it down in the wrong notebook? Did I not notice it there? Anyway -- next week my advisor called me into a meeting to tell me that I was going to fail that class, but my professor was going to let me write an essay for partial credit. "You read Norwegian Wood, right? So just write a two-page essay on that tonight, and turn it in, and you can pass the class."

A careful reader will note that since I was not counting on getting any credit with McGill for any of the classes I was taking, failing a class was going to affect me in no way whatsoever. I did not think about this. It was TEN YEARS before I thought about that. (I mean, it would have been socially unacceptable to tell my advisor, "What the hell do I care if I fail that class?" or to not write that essay, so it would not have made that much difference, BUT STILL.) I was, back then, even more terrified of failure than I am now. It wasn't about consequences; it wasn't about the approval of others; it was just an unshakeable conviction that failing, at anything, was the worst thing imaginable.

There was one minor other point.

I had not read Norwegian Wood.

I had read, in high school, about half of Norwegian Wood in the original Japanese. This took me several months of very slow reading with a dictionary. I was liking it well enough, except that I got really worried that Naoko was going to kill herself, and that got all tangled up with being worried about the mental health of a friend of mine, and I got to the point where I just couldn't bear to go on.

I could not write an essay on a book I had only half read; I could not finish the book in time to write an essay; I could not tell the truth to my advisor; so I just said that I'd do it, and I'd try hard and do my best, and then I took the trolley to Kinokuniya and bought the English translation of Norwegian Wood, and I finished it while mostly sobbing into my donburi, and I went back to my dorm. I sat down to write my essay. Kids were setting off firecrackers in the streets, and there was music coming from somewhere, and I was crying on my grid paper.

And I wrote an essay on how Murakami correctly makes the case that everything is terrible and pointless.

And I turned it in and I guess it was marginally acceptable.

I still can't contemplate Soseki, or Mori Ogai, without thinking about that semester which was so full of books that made me sad and angry and made me feel like a Bad Student who was spending all her time reading yaoi novels and couldn't hack Real Literature.

A few years ago I was massively weeding my book collection and came upon my terribly beat-up Japanese copy of Norwegian Wood, and I thought I should throw it out -- I didn't actually like the book that much, and it was in bad shape. And I couldn't do it. It felt like a relic from a hard-fought battle.

Reading lots of fic!

Nov. 13th, 2014 07:35 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
I have been on a fic-reading kick this week. I read Born from the Earth, which I highly recommend! Will never think of Iron Man the same way again. It is so good!!!!!

Then went looking for anything either crossover or AU that has, well, anything I recognize in it, that is long enough to keep me occupied for an hour or so and that has good ratings (high number of kudos or comments) I could almost go watch or learn something about Teen Wolf just in order to read all this stuff. My search resulted in lots of Marvel and LOTR fic and some very odd Pern AU. Pernlock... OK! I don't even like Benedict whatever, but naturally, he improves with dragons, knife fights, and so on.

Missing delux who used to exchange all the silliest and most amazing of it with me.

Right now am in the middle of an epic rewrite of The Hobbit where Bilbo goes sort of back in time to live his life from age 50 onwards again to try and fix everything so that his friends don't die; it's very sweet.

Recommendations welcome! I am especially into novel length or series length works! Angst and drama ++!
tim: A warning sign with "Danger" in white, superimposed over a red oval on a black rectangle, above text  "MEN EXPLAINING" (mansplaining)
[personal profile] tim
I wrote the following on a closed Facebook group for Wellesley alums, and since I spent all that time writing it, thought it would be worth it to share with a larger audience.

See also: How to Fail Out of Grad School Without Really Trying (which I wrote while I was still in grad school).

I thought everyone in this group was tired of me talking about why grad school is a mistake ;) For me, grad school turned out not to be what it says on the tin. That is, I went (to two different Ph.D programs) thinking I was going to learn how to be a researcher. Instead, I found I was being evaluated on things that had nothing to do with ability to do research. My first program had a prelim that was basically filtering out anybody with any degree of impostor syndrome. My second program didn't want me there because I wouldn't tolerate sexual harassment (I wrote about that at length).

I also found that graduate programs -- compared to anyplace I've worked that wasn't a university -- are very unforgiving of, basically, any sign of humanity: chronic illness (regardless of whether it's coded as "physical" or "mental") that interferes with work or causes you to need extended time off. In my experience, if a company hires me, they value me and, all other things being equal, don't want to lose me. So they have a reason to accommodate me (not that companies are perfect about this, of course; the job I stayed at the longest, I left because my manager there made my disability the focus of my annual performance review). In a Ph.D program, though, you're disposable and interchangeable; you're paid very little, so in the same way you might throw away something cheap you bought at Target whereas if you invested in an expensive piece of furniture, you'd fix it, your department generally has no reason to keep you around when they see a way to replace you with somebody healthier.

Don't underestimate the effect of spending 5-6 years or more -- which are, for most other college-educated people, the very years they spend building their careers (often, the years when they can just focus on work and don't yet have a lot of family obligations) being severely underpaid. Of course, this is something that varies a lot by field, and if somebody is in (say) sociology I realize there aren't a surfeit of high-paying jobs outside academia. But for me (I'm in computer science), if I went back to grad school today, that would cut my pay to a sixth of what it is now. Even if you don't care about money (and I didn't think I did when I was starting grad school), it's easy to underestimate the psychological effects of being paid fairly vs. being grossly underpaid because your employer hopes you'll fall for the promise of jam tomorrow (that is, a tenure-track job, which in reality is all but unavailable anymore) and give them your labor for practically nothing now. It really changes the relationship between you and your employer when they're paying you enough that they value their investment in you and won't kick you out the door the first time you show you're human.

When you're considering opportunity costs, also make sure you understand the real costs of grad school. Obviously, don't go anywhere that won't pay your tuition in full and give you a stipend for living expenses. But also know what the cost of housing is where you're going to be going to school; whether you can afford to live near the university or whether you'll have to factor the costs of commuting in (both economic and psychological; having any length of commute to work is apparently a major cause of stress and unhappiness in people's lives); whether or not your program will cover your health insurance or will add insult to injury by claiming you're not an employee (at the university I left, I had to pay thousands of dollars a year out of pocket -- a huge percentage of my stipend -- because they deliberately hired research assistants at 0.45 FTE to avoid paying for benefits); and whether or not you'll have easy access to mental health resources (which some of the most stable and well-adjusted people I know needed after a couple years in grad school).

And then there's the question of what you're going to do afterward. I originally wanted to be a professor. After my second experience in grad school, I no longer did, because I didn't want to be like the professors in my department who defended a grad student who sexually harassed his colleague while blaming the victim. But even if that hadn't happened, I doubt I would ever have been able to find a tenure-track job; even though there are still some TT jobs in computer science (although they're disappearing like in every other field), they're reserved for only the people who scored highest in the privilege lottery and have a monomaniacal focus on work. One or the other (generally) doesn't cut it. In grad school, I never wanted to spend all my waking hours on research, which meant that if I'd graduated, I would have had at most 2 or 3 publications; when I read CVs for tenure-track faculty candidates who were coming to meet with grad students, they had as many as 20 publications straight out of grad school. I realized that I didn't like research enough to spend that much time on it, and in fact, I don't like *any* one thing enough to spend that much time on it. I'm passionate about more than one thing, and I'd even like to start a family sooner or later. I've talked to one too many people who had to choose between going hard for tenure and watching their children grow up, chose the former, and regretted it.

(edited to add:) If you already know you don't want to be a professor or work at a research lab, and you get a Ph.D, be prepared to have to remove it from your résumé to get a job; at least in computer science, a Ph.D actually lowers your expected salary compared to a master's. Be prepared to enter every job interview on your guard, explaining why you're not overqualified or why you won't be bored at a job that your interviewer is already assuming is "beneath you". (This is, at least, the experience of some of my friends with computer science Ph.Ds.) Some people describe a Ph.D as a "union card" to teach at a university -- if you already know that's not what you want to do, think especially hard about why you want to get one. At least in my field, everything else you can do along the way (teaching, learning, reading, writing) is work you can do outside a university -- often, as part of an industry job, while getting paid a lot more for it.

Now, just because grad school is essentially a huge scam that promises much in order to extract extremely cheap labor from grad students and make them feel like they're getting an education, that doesn't mean it isn't the right choice for some people. If you read all this and think "hmm, I really still want to go," then you should probably go. Some books you should read first, though:

Leaving the Ivory Tower, Barbara Lovitts: It's about why Ph.D students leave grad school (spoiler: the reason is usually structural in that a huge number of departments systematically identify a few favorites among each incoming cohort of Ph.D students and actively neglect the rest; but faculty take credit for their successful students while placing all the blame on the individuals who don't succeed).

Getting What You Came For, Robert Peters: very readable, and describes what you need to be doing to get through a Ph.D program. It won't help if your advisor is determined to defend sexual harassment, of course, but if you read this book and more-or-less do what it says I think that you'll avoid some of the major mistakes that are avoidable.
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