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May 2015
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“A burglar does not leave his shoeprint in the flowerbed in
order for police to find the print and prove the shoe was his. (Quite the
opposite, one suspects.) A document, such as a contract, email or a report,
was not created in order to provide historians with something to study a
century from now.”

Wanting to write a little post about this from my readings in class because interested by how it disrupts the sense I have built up for myself about how sentences and punctuation should work and be structured.

I think what bothers me mainly is that I do not regard a parenthesis as a sentence-ending marker while, although it can serve other purposes, a period does mark the end of a sentence. So I end up feeling like there are two sentences here:

  1. “A burglar does not leave his shoeprint in the flowerbed in order for police to find the print and prove the shoe was his.
  2. (Quite the opposite, one suspects.) A document, such as a contract, email or a report, was not created in order to provide historians with something to study a century from now.” 

I suppose from examining this I must also feel that most everything should be contained within sentences, as an alternative interpretation might be that

(Quite the opposite, one suspects.) 

is some sort of aside floating free of and not part of either the preceding or succeeding sentence. But I don’t like that either. If I were to rewrite this so that it ‘made sense’ to me, I would do it like so:

“A burglar does not leave his shoeprint in the flowerbed in
order for police to find the print and prove the shoe was his (quite the
opposite, one suspects). A document, such as a contract, email or a report,
was not created in order to provide historians with something to study a
century from now.” 

No period after his, lower case q in quite, period after the closing parenthesis instead of before. Now it reads to me as two separate, self-contained sentences that are not spilling over each other or otherwise provoking some sort of formatting error in my brain. Although this does not mean I am completely happy with the text itself, just that I no longer interpret it as typographically malformed - could try and remove the gendering of the hypothetical burglar, or try and edit the parenthetical into something requiring less implicit unpacking. At the moment, the first sentence and its parenthetical still pair in my mind to suggest intentionality on the part of the burglar, so if it was not left in order for police to find the print and prove identity, but was left for the opposite reason, the first interpretation is the burglar left the shoeprint intentionally in order not to be found or identified by the police - which I think we can agree is not the intended meaning of that parenthetical. Rather, I am sure we are intended to understand that, contrary to being left with the intention of being discovered and leading to capture, the burglar intended to leave no print and consequently to not be discovered. But that’s a whole different edition of Problems With Me Reading Things, and you’ll need to tune in another day for that one[1].

In case it was not clear, I want to emphasise that I do realise there is not an official set of rules of punctuation in English that everyone is required to abide by. I am talking about the idiosyncratic rules I have built up in my own mind that makes sense to me and which I strive to abide by, and how I get (hopefully amusingly) flustered when I encounter writing that does not abide by those self-set rules. I am capable of reading and making sense of considerably more disjointed or experimental expressions of English than the quoted example (although of course not infinitely so), but sometimes simple things like this throw me off and I get the urge to talk about them.

[1] I have no current intention of covering that topic.

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Filter: nervousnervous

Finally answered the Malheurs' question about podcasts we listen to ('finally' - it was only yesterday morning). Left a few off because didn't want to flood, though. Mainly SF Crossing The Gulf, science news series like the Nature magazine podcast, and the story magazines like Escape Pod and Podcastle. And some I just can't recommend like Skeptic's Guide to the Universe partly for the often confrontational tone (and associated ablism) but especially what stands out is one of the host's periodic parodies of Asian accents.So, nope, however much I may enjoy I can't recommend at least pre-2008 version of the show.

Got the day off, so all that prospect of wide open day to fill and be diligent in. But we never manage that in the actuality. It's a nice dream.

Not been able to exercise in a while because of my leg, but that's healed now and was surprised at how easily the routine went this morning. First thought on the treadmill was that I really need to get a sports bra as the bounce was quite unpleasant. And then spiralling a bit of self-hate because it seems no one in the country makes sports bras sized for women as large as me with such small breasts. Going to have to wait for the regular bra I ordered to arrive and see how well that fits. And then most likely follow Ami's advice of getting a smaller size and an extender for the strap.

Hope that works. Been waiting on getting a bra sorted so I can fix up the rest of my wardrobe for nearly half a year now.

Last night on the drive home listening to Science Friday episode from 2015-02-06 they covered the final instalment of the show's bookclub reading The Lost City of Z. They'd been discussing that the past few episodes, a retracing of a British explorer who long ago went missing in the Amazon searching for a lost city. This had me wondering if and how such tropes as explorer's clubs and celebrity explorers might be used in RPGs, and whether this could be done in a non-colonialist way (the short answer I came to is probably no, and on my head be it if I insist on including them anyway). Ideas such as cross-planar exploration, seeking out unknown worlds and planar regions for establishing contact and trade or relations with, and possibly the world of narrative focus being but newly created and consequently not in a position to exert force outward. But that latter is less of a help than the details of motives in seeking outward and celebrating news brought back.

Alternatively or perhaps also, having characters be of non-European-derived societies, exploring into the ruins of a lost European-style society. Good excuse for lots of castle dungeons and monster-infested ruined townships. Could be explained as plague-depopulated (or some other catastrophe), much as what actually happened in the Americas and Australia when European settlers arrived (except of course no real monsters), although what I'd been thinking in that idea was not so much to make that parallel as more Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt to make a conveniently depopulated Euro-fantasyland. And the fact that it does make a parallel to the real world creates problems in using such an idea, because there is an implicit association that if such a depopulated land is suitable for guilt-free exploration and ruin-romps, then it must have been similarly okay for Europeans to go through Australia and those Americas after disease had drastically reduced the populations and ability to sustain existing societies there.

As was pointed out in the much more interesting (and far too short) following segment in which they had as guest an archaeologist to talk about actual Amazonian ruins and how they were laid out in a style of city distinct from any that I had been aware of.

Getting to the point where soon new stereo in car will hopefully mean can start over the list ordering and go into the big and hopefully final catch-up project. Especially since recent investigations and external developments will make that more possible than before.

Something on the drive home reminded me of my grandmother and, as ever, I wanted to tear my throat out so I wouldn't have to deal with it. I think I thought of aiming for a collision again but of course I won't, I wouldn't. But how am I supposed to make sense of her being gone? I wish I could cry, for her, for my cousin. Even for Terry Pratchett whose words meant so much to me growing up (she once bought me one of his books as a child and I don't think she ever knew how much I loved that book). But I can never seem to grieve properly. There is always something taking precedence - maintaining a good face at work; school; getting home without killing myself. I fear that someday I will have time to grieve and the window will have passed, I will not feel it any more or need it.

Again and again and again.

Today is always wasted.

I watched some things. Part 3 of the Doctor Who serial Marco Polo, I think. Did not pay a lot of attention to it or follow what was happening, so what was the point in watching that again when I could have been doing something useful? Episode 38 of Galaxy Express 999, of which I wanted to say something about how repetitive that show is but this time it actually did something a bit different, showing a bit more of the workings of the interstellar railway line. Some episode of Scott & Bailey in the background, which I suppose I keep up more by inertia than anything else. I wish I had the time and the will and the focus to - if I am going to watch something - actually watch it and pay attention and think about it. I pressure myself too much to get through things and so cannot appreciate them.

School is stress. I am sure I am going to fail. I am always sure, and always sure that this time I really am. Of course last time, over the summer, I actually did, which means I am on academic probation and definitely have to pass this class to escape penalty. And I am doing so badly with it. I very much need to focus and not be social, to push through being tired when not at work. Today I tried to get progress on my assignment, the last one that will determine my grade, and mostly ended up wrestling with bibliographic tools before giving up and doing it the old-fashioned way. Insofar as using style settings in a modern office suite can be considered old-fashioned.

But at least I have done something. I have made some progress on the readings and entered some information into the document, so that is technically progress. I need to make this into my life somehow if I am to succeed, but I hate it already and thoroughly.

Been leaving lots of journal entries unpublished of recent, as the day escapes me. I wonder if I will ever publish them?

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Filter: blankblank
Programming: Last Night - Traveling Wilburys

I miss programming. It was the last thing I was good at. Which is not to claim any particular demonstrable level of skill or aptitude. But that one class I took in 2012 I worked hard at, and I got good grades for my hard work. I miss having something I could work at and feel I was making progress in understanding and skill. Unfortunately I keep being too occupied with work and school or otherwise insufficiently self-directed - as well as lacking in inspiration - to pursue further development in learning to program. Or rather, given the long gap of inactivity, re-learning to program.

As one might guess, today I did have some inspiration on a suitably scaled project I might undertake when I am able, and am writing this partially as a reminder to myself that I should do so. In this case I was wondering about where a stationary orbit around Ceres might be located and whether it would be stable.

I realised I could define a succession of more complex versions of the problem which I could automate the solving of. Simplest version would just take mass and rotation period for input and give an orbital radius as output. More complex versions could relate that to the Hill sphere of the synchronous-orbited body and identify whether the radius for a synchronous orbit falls within that range or whether it is outside (and therefore not stable). That would require additional inputs such as the ~planet's semi-major orbital axis and the mass of the star (or other parent body).

Then if getting that working, could add further complexity in trying to get a range of values computed, frex "as the orbited body's rotation is slowed, at what point does the radius of a synchronous orbit fall outside its Hill sphere?" or "at this rotation rate, how near to its parent body can this object orbit and still retain a synchronously orbiting satellite?"

Should be nice sort of project. Fairly simple, already solved problems (I could verify them with pen and paper), well-defined goals that are definitely outside my current skillset. I hope I will manage to get myself the time for working on this. Could feel proud of success.

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Programming: "Subvert / Wired Archives / Siege of Atrocity" - Delerium

Current assignment - still the same assignment - is a pseudo-presentation for undergrad science students on the importance of records and archives. Consequently have been focusing reading on records practice in science, the use of records as evidence and the personal process of developing record-keeping style as part of being enculturated to a community of practice.

Consequently consequently, was interested to listen to this Science Friday segment on part of the drive home. The show's Science Club challenge from the end of September was to identify something to observe and to make careful record of your observations in the hope that from these observations something interesting will emerge. Essentially, the Science Friday audience was being challenged to in part go through the process I had been reading about - to, through trial, error, and consideration, develop a system for recording observations which will be later comprehensible and useful as a seed for generating knowledge and presenting this knowledge to a wider community.

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Filter: numbnumb
Programming: "Bestial Lust (Bitch)" Nymphetamine - Cradle of Filth

Awake too early thanks to bad dreams. Dreams of a screaming, fist-pounding, equipment-endangering outburst of frustration and then having to put back on the happy, untroubled face for my family so they wouldn't condemn or press for explanation. The only part remaining I can put into words.

Awake too early because I was awake and the sense of some dread, amorphous feeding presence made sleep too fearful. And because sleep had fled in the face of perhaps adrenaline. I would like to sleep more - I've been so tired - but must wait for things to pass.

My head hurts. Likely need more water.

Yesterday, a co-worker informed me the shirt I'd worn the day before had a tear. So now am down to one work shirt that fits well. Will try and buy some more tomorrow after getting my face lasered, which at least is an opportunity to get some better-suited clothes if I can find them. I've not had much success finding shirts on my own that I would be comfortable wearing.

That's what's mostly going on here at the moment. There's some other things I wanted to say before, but they're harder to write and might get abandoned. Meanwhile today is a day of rest and cleaning and study.

It was disheartening seeing my previous posts when I came to write this, that I've been trying to focus on this assignment for more than a month, and it is due in less than a week, and I am so tired and have made so little progress. I want to quit but I don't want to quit. I'm sick of quitting or failing.

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Very tired yesterday, what with being up past 01:00 to witness (in a family, non-legal way) and then having an unusually early start at the library. Should have let myself go to sleep early but insisted on staying up as late as I could.

Still felt very rested today, although now am tired early so could be I needed more sleep. Today's shift was quite busy. I would have loved it except I'm getting increasingly frustrated with one of my co-workers. Feels like he is increasingly inserting himself into my interactions with patrons, talking over and interrupting. Feels like he is generally lacking respect for my capabilities too, and for once I actually have a fair bit of confidence in myself there. Took over a task I was working on at opening, leaving me with nothing to do for a while although at least it meant he was out of my hair a few minutes. Last week he was supposed to be at both branch and main library (the latter opening in the moment the former closes) and the main library was short-handed. Made worse that he ignored my encouragement that he get going early as if I weren't very well capable of shutting up that tiny place on my lonesome, thereby condemning the main - vastly more popular and important as a service point - library to open late and incompletely. Incensing.

Of course I look through these obnoxious behaviours to see if I might be guilty of them myself and in need of reform. But, there are staff everyone else hates and / or wishes never to work with. I'd rather pair with them than him; at least they trust me to do my job without interference.

Not helped that he feels it appropriate to try and correct me about 'PC terms' and then complain about their being required these days. Or suggest the women's restroom at the branch library is larger than the men's as a consequence of the library being mainly staffed by women as if a) the staff had any say in the building design and b) that weren't largely a result of how the various rooms have to slot together to fit in the available space and urinals being more compact than stalls.

I'm not happy and probably should do something. Maybe best option is get a new job since I want one anyway, and most anything going is seeming to carry better pay and better operating environment.

Here, let's finish on some 'jokes':

Saw a new book called Dark Touch. Puts me in mind of a metal cover of Stan Bush's some for The Transformers film soundtrack. Which actually could be a lot of fun.

Batman Meets Scooby Doo movie. Will be very disappointing if the ending does not involve something like "Looks like Batman was really Old Man Wayne all along!"

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My grandmother died a couple of days ago. The funeral is later this week.

Feels like this ought to be a longer entry but I would rather write something than delay and try to think of more and ultimately write nothing.

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Filter: shockedshocked

This evening near the end of my shift there was a kid asking for books on Serena Williams. Only one in the building according to the catalogue, a biography, so I showed her over to that and she accepted it, but she asked if there were anything at a more junior level she could use. Had a look with her at the sports book in junior non-fiction but of course there was a scant single volume on tennis, likely too old to even mention Serena, or more than briefly.

She seemed a bit distressed - speech due on Wednesday which she'd only found out about today. Told her I'd go take another look in the catalogue for anything at another library which could be placed on hold, but that there was only a slim chance it would arrive tomorrow and much more likely in a week. As it happens, everything else that turned up was aimed at an adult level too. So I let her know, and gave a quick tip on how to use the reference list on Wikipedia to find sources to check out which may help her. Hoping she gets through that okay.

That and some other queries today (e.g. someone's kid needed biographical info on three scientists, any scientists) had me thinking there is still a place in libraries for encyclopaedias and similar reference material. Great starting places for topic introductions and overviews on many subjects.

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Filter: tiredtired

Studying records and archives this semester. The first assignment for this class is to put together a presentation for undergraduate science students who are skeptical of the value of archives. Sadly it looks like archiving is rather more focused on communicative human artefacts than the preservation of broader information objects. Otherwise, I had been hoping to incorporate this video from the American Museum of Natural History as an illustration of why this work is important to their work.

 


 

 

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Yesterday:
Quiet, main achievement was folding laundry that had been sitting for a few days. Brief, quiet shift at work, main excitement was person who came in at 10 minutes to closing wanting some books but did not have his library card nor any ID we could use as proxy - in fact he hadn't been in so long his membership was no longer in the system; not about to let him use the account of the person he said was his son's either and potentially run up fines in someone else's name. Violated policy by putting the books aside for him to register and borrow tomorrow (today), so as to close up in time rather than push an argument for unknown duration.

Got home, found out my grandmother's life expectancy is estimated at 3 months. Don't know how to process this, never had to lose someone so close previously. Spent so much time grieving for her future loss when I was a child and she was healthy; Should I start grieving more early in preparation? Is there anything I want to do or say? Probably should do some research on how to approach or support someone terminally ill. If she knows - for at least the past year she's been inconsistently able to recognise her own immediate family or where she is.

Although so far she's always seemed able to recognise me. In a way I hate that; all branches of my family seem to have given me always so much more attention and value and support than my sisters, whether because I was firstborn or they thought me a boy or what. It's unfair to my sisters and not a social expectation I'm equipped to live up to.

Watched the second half of the writer & directors commentary on The Fellowship of the Ring with Ami. Finished reading The Player of Games for the discussion group. Still like that book, still find it lacking in parts.

Today:
Followed up on some correspondence I've been delaying on. Mostly university stuff and pre-planning for move to USA. Paid for the coming semester of school, updated my calendar with assignments and medical appointments. Updated work on when I'm available for shifts over the next roster period. Did some revised cost estimates on shipping stuff, got rather upset at the thought I may have to reconsider bringing my books. Made some new plans.

Failed to have the nerve to call and book an inspection for the car today. Used web form instead to book one for next week. Hope that won't prove too late. Checked grades for my summer class, looks like I failed it. Disappointed especially because I put a lot of effort into the most major assignment and thought I might have done well in that.

Going to try working on some personal projects and try not to think about food.

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When I read this post on ghosts and zombies immediately I thought it could potentially make a really interesting story, if only I could think where to go with it.

Start with a zombie apocalypse scenario sweeping across the Earth, leading to almost the entire population of the world ending up as ghosts and... then what? The whole species having to decide "we've been wiped out, we're extinct but we're still here, now what do we do?"

Visualising plot strands of despair, would-be suicidal reactions, religious crises, some maybe want to zoom off to explore space, or persuade the ghost-species to adopt a frame of philosophical contemplation, ennui over being and observing but inability to affect any thing in the world. Interactions with the elder ghosts of humanity's past and trying to negotiate a place in / replacement for whatever society they had constructed. Maybe side-strands with the living who are still trying to survive and the question of whether they could eventually prevail, if humanity might re-emerge as a living species.

Don't know where the story would go. My own inclinations probably take it as a quest for understanding with ghost-science and exploration and a lot of people wanting to find ways to interact with the world again, or maybe to cease existence entirely. I keep being drawn to the possibility of vistas on other worlds and mysteries and discoveries that could be made out there (ghost aliens? non-ghost aliens who can or cannot detect the ghost humans?).

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Derailed from plans day today. Washed the car to start with, as intended, but then largely meandered through the middle of it. In the evening the electricity went out for what turned out to be three hours. Batteries ran down fairly quickly thereafter which was a little annoying as there were plenty of things I could have worked on sans internet - stories perhaps, or some sort of blog post.

Instead I ended up reading for most of the duration, aided partly by a torch I keep in my backpack. Am not going to pretend this is some sort of salvation-from-technology miracle because it is not. Without even a reliable feeling source of illumination I felt trapped. But it certainly was useful - I'm supposed to finish this book, The Player of Games, for the bookclub by the end of the week and even now I am only halfway through having read a third of it tonight. Took plenty of notes on things to talk about when (if?) we have a group discussion on the novel.

It was very useful. The main frustration was not being able to transmit my thoughts at whoever whenever I'd a fancy too, which perhaps means overexposure to twitter. But it certainly did give me cause to reconsider what I want out of internet connectivity.

Recently I've been feeling simultaneously a desire to gain distance from social networks, partly from a feeling of unsafety and partly from a dismay at how much time is taken to keep up with them, yet also a desire to engage more vigorously, wanting to find and foster new friendships as a salve to my loneliness. Very conflicting.
People to be close with, yes. People to communicate and share with, yes. But I'd like to draw a metaphorical line somehow and put that to one side and use this computational contraption also as more of a working machine. A little more of a division where, yes, the connection is ever-present and contact available, but the mental split of mode between ~work, play and social. I liked the model described in The Player of Games where Gurgeh might devote a block of time to correspondence, another to working on some paper he was writing, the rest to whatever.

Normally as I've been trying to push myself in that direction I would draft any post locally before bringing up a site to post it on. This one's being an exception as I intended to just write a quick little update on my day. On account of how I am trying to be more social and make more of those sorts of updates.

I know there are various programs and extensions intended to help people out by blocking the internet to various degrees and specifications but I don't think those are what I am after. Or I don't want them to be. Rather work on my own ability to focus and set aside distraction not because that is somehow nobler or superior (nope), but because I don't want less of the one thing, I want to do more of the other. Which has perhaps the incidental effect of less of the one. Maybe I will need to use one of those tools anyway.

Thank you for listening to my ill-considered rambling. Perhaps someday it shall be turned into a more concise rambling.

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Tried starting up a bookclub at the beginning of this year and it did not go well. I put a lot of the blame on having been swallowed up by work for nearly three weeks of the month, and on being struggling with school again. Even if I had been reading our first book (The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks) on my breaks I wouldn't have had the energy to be posting about it each week. And I wouldn't have been up for a group discussion on it this week at the end of the month either, because this is deadline week for half my grade.

Other people haven't been participating either. I put this down to my lack of doing my part as the organiser and instigator to bring energy and encouragement, at least initially to get things going. If I don't make a bookclub something people value in its own right and for themselves, they aren't going to put their own time and energy into it when I'm not up for that myself.

On the one hand that went quite badly. On the other hand, this means we have a fairly clean slate on which to try again for next month. Of course there is no guarantee that any of these problems won't recur or that new ones will not arise. However, the number and length of shifts I had in January is relatively rare and partly due to other staff being on vacation, and for me February will be between semesters so I am optimistic that we may be able to get some momentum going that will sustain the group through the next rough patch whenever that comes.
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Went out to the kitchen to see if the dishwasher needed emptying (it did). A cat was waiting for me, sitting on the floor watching the through the door. When she saw me she meowed loudly and leapt up onto the bench and began eating from the bowl of cat food there, as if this were the signal she had been waiting for.

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Sometimes I worry that I am too critical of things and that I am no longer capable of enjoying any new story I encounter. That seeing flaws in a story prevents me from also enjoying that story. But then I read something like the story I am currently reading and it has all sorts of issues and I feel like Data's tone here nicely conveys how I am enjoying it, even aside from any consideration of its various problems.
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I wanted to keep more of a diary again. Guess my first attempt at making a post of this getting accidentally deleted is as good an excuse as any. That's what happens when you have a part-written post in a browser window and then reboot the computer.

Earlier in the week I finally got an ultrasound for my wrist. Unfortunately no sign showed of what is causing the pain I have been in experiencing there. People seem to be treating that as good news which puzzles me - if there'd been an affirmative discovery of a problem, couldn't I have got something done about it? Now I'm in the position of waiting another month with painkillers and hoping it goes away before I can get a referral to a rheumatoid specialist for further investigation.Has been feeling a bit better the past couple of days, which I suspect is due more to having had several days off work than to taking extra care with my posture and typing since if I were to say I managed that half the time I'd be being generous. Can't hurt though, I hope.

[at this time the author takes a break for approximately 4 days or more]

I suppose I don't know what else to say. So far as resolutions go - that tradition of the new year - I suppose what I want to do is to occupy myself sufficiently with personal projects and activities to spend far less time haunting social media. Of course there's school, but I would like to, to have myself together enough to get writing again sometimes too. And games, and reading... I've been trying to persuade a book club into existence and also have been very enthusiastic of late about role-playing games. Aspiring to run and perhaps even to play in some this year.

Been focusing on Pathfinder first with vague plans to try running some practice adventures and hopefully cobble together a Star Wars themed campaign (Starfinder) based on an authentic [personal profile] ami_angelwings  idea. But first I'm trying to read up a lot on advice for running games well so that I can hopefully do a good job and help everyone involved have fun.

Right now, right next, I need to work hard at school. I worry I can't manage both school and much in the way of hobbies. Every attempt I make to manage my time well so far ends in weeks of anxious fretting and bursts of panicked labour. But I keep hoping and I keep trying. I suppose there is not anything else I can do.

On which note I better actually be doing that schoolwork now.

[started this January 1st, a few days later than I wanted to, and finished writing it yesterday. I do not want to abandon social media so much as I want to fill my life with enough satisfying industrious pleasure that I find myself less dependent on and habituated to it.]

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[there's some references at the end of this journal post because school and I felt like practicing]

Lasering this morning. Daring to hope I might be done after this round, in half a year. That would not be too long a time. Little bit frustrating that I took up a desire and occasional accomplishment of morning walks right around when I am experienced a laser-induced need to avoid UV exposure, so I look forward to the banishing of one of those duelling tensions.

Took a while to find where the shopping centre bookshop had removed itself to, then visited a few times on my outing. I don't buy books so often and when I do it is seldom off-line (the state of book prices in Australia is perhaps best described as 'exorbitant') but it was lovely to reacquaint myself a bit with the state of paper books as art objects.

Saw a beautiful edition of Mockingjay in passing. Lots of lovely editions of The Hobbit. Someone has decided to give all Brandon Sanderson's books a consistent look across settings and series; that shelf was a sight to see, so unexpectedly uniform. Robin Hobb's books are still in those beautiful, shiny covers that make me long to give over my copies to charity or second-hand, just to replace and see something so pretty on my shelves (too expensive, too frivolous, maybe someday...). The cover of Alastair Reynolds' On the Steel Breeze clashed weirdly with Blue Remembered Earth, as if they didn't belong together, so strange. Different editions or publishers or sharp change of art direction I suppose.

There were some boxed sets of the Song of Ice and Fire books which looked nice, though it would be nice to be able to do without having a permanent reminder of the television series affixed to the covers. Makes me wonder what looks the books may have when that series is complete. The Warriors anthology in three parts highlighting to me the absence of the Vandermeers time travel anthology since the last time I visited. The new edition of The Ice Dragon is lovely, the illustrations and the cover and the texture. Pretty book, book as art in itself. Could not find The World of Ice and Fire at first, the particular book I wanted to take a look at. Found it elsewhere after a bit, with all the trendy books. But I ended up not daring to take more than a quick flip through it, maybe I was scared of being thought a serious customer.

Looked for, could not find any copy of Kameron Hurley's The Mirror Empire. Did smile to see that, between times I visited the books, someone seems to have bought a copy of Ancillary Justice. Colours a bit too bright and busy and non-representational feeling for me on that one, but that's okay. Hoping it found a good home.

When I got home, was pleasantly surprised to see the set of dice I had ordered had arrived. I've never had dice before apart from the ones you get in department store board games and these are a delightful dusty green with gold numbers, fun even just to look at. I enjoyed taking some time to feel them and start learning which ones are which. Handy because now I can use them for pen and paper RPGs instead of using online rollers, and I've learned this difference matters to some (many?) who play such games.

Yesterday, on part of the way home listened to an episode of Ockham's Razor on cohabiting with wildlife in Australia. Was prepared to be disappointed, envisioning a lack of suggestion that perhaps people and society change their ways in order to minimise conflict and adjust expectations of what is acceptable. Ended up being mostly pleasantly surprised for the most part although perhaps I had set my standards excessively low. NB: a remark about dingo purity is potentially outdated.

Listened to an episode of Escape Pod through lunch. The story, "Shadowboxer", was okay but my main point of interest was how this story's threads weave with Death Note. If Kira's power were inherent, if he were of the USA and held as their instrument. Well, but I thought it was okay. Not inclined to launch into a lengthy criticism at this time. Judging by the comments many others found it much more strongly resonant. This was also the second consecutive podcast to reference research into intercessory prayer, although "Shadowboxer" claimed a near opposite outcome to that reported by Are We Alone? Big Picture Science.

That episode was rather fascinating in itself, covering language and power and other related aspects of headology. The general thrust of the episode I'd seen before elsewhere but, for example, I didn't know that the Curse of the Bambino in baseball was actually technically a jinx! Also appreciated the line of continuity drawn with European-derived cultures and others, and the explicit disclaiming that curses are not a matter of supposed primitiveness. Potential listeners should be advised that experiments are described wherein harm was done to animals, including death in some cases.

Finally from earlier in the week, a two-part program from All In The Mind on mental health in Indigenous Australian communities and approaches featuring storytelling and community involvement. I've little to say on the content itself, mentioned mainly in case of interest from others.

Except, a remark near the beginning of the first episode by the presenter: "Addressing mental illness is a vital component of the healing process for Aboriginal Australians". I found that rather incensing. They need healing? THEY need healing!? We got sickness running so deep we think it's a healthy way of being, to believe it's right and just and good to do what we do to people, to genocide or force it on them and try to make them sick too. That is what we need healing of, that splinter of ice in our collective heart.

Of course the indigenous people of Australia do need healing of the hurt done to them, but not I think in the manner implied by that framing, of necessary reconciliation to the pre-eminence of white society upon their land. That is... not it.

References 

Bentley, M. (Producer). (2006, June 14). Skeptical Sunday: Curses!. Big Picture Science Audio. Retrieved from http://podcast.seti.org/pages

Di Filippo, P. (Author). (2006, June 15). EP058: Shadowboxer. Escape Pod Audio. Retrieved from http://escapepod.org/

Malcolm, L. (Presenter). (2006, June 10). Aboriginal mental health part 1 - Tiwi Islands. All In The Mind Audio. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/

Malcolm, L. (Presenter). (2006, June 17). The Long Grassers' legacy - Aboriginal mental health part 2. All In The Mind. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/

Outred, J. (2014, April 15). Dingo declared a separate species.Australian Geographic. Retrieved from http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/

Temby, I. (Speaker). (2006, June 11). Wild neighbours. Ockham's Razor Audio. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/ This entry passed through http://aesmael.dreamwidth.org/674011.html. Comments can probably be made anywhere this entry was posted. Comments on this post already at Dreamwidth: comment count unavailable.

I should definitely make new boots a priority. Only had these ones not quite 2 years, but got a blister on my toe after just four hours of mostly seated work and 90 minutes (total) driving today and been getting lesions on my heels for probably a few months now. Seems clear that however nice they were to begin with these boots are now doing my feet more harm than good.

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Came home to find my family had bought a new set of cat-frighteners. A cordless vacuum cleaner, an autonomous robot vacuum cleaner, and what I think is some sort of electric broom.

I don't know how they can afford these, or whether this is wise, but there you go.

Edit: On closer inspection, I believer what I referred to as an 'electric broom' is actually a steam mop. This entry passed through http://aesmael.dreamwidth.org/673463.html. Comments can probably be made anywhere this entry was posted. Comments on this post already at Dreamwidth: comment count unavailable.

It's interesting seeing the relative popularities (and operating costs) of sites manifest in their end-year fund raisers. Wikipedia and Mozilla claim "If everyone reading this gave $3 we could end this right now". The Internet Archive puts its threshold at everyone reading it giving $75.

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Tired. Any work day is wasted so far as trying to get school stuff or any other project done (such as putting together a job application, which is the other thing I should be doing this week). Frustrating, even when it's so brief as this evening's was I'm pretty useless for applying focus to anything that isn't decompressing.

I think the most disappointing part is, as quiet as the library was tonight, I can't even honestly say I helped anyone. Books got put away, maybe that's something.

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A thing I just saw reminded me of an interview I listened to [there is a transcript available at the link] on All in the Mind a couple of days ago. They were talking to a psychiatrist / historian who had done research into gender and mental health. Apparently, a study he conducted had shown a shift in how our society conceptualised depression from the 1980s onward. A split, where women are perceived as having difficulties with housework, with socialisation, with their love lives, while men are perceived as having difficulties with work and hobbies but not so much the mention of feelings.

And a subsequent study showing a parallel trend over the same span in the notes they record about their patients. Changes in what we regard depression as being. He did not draw a conclusion as to A causing B, or vice versa, or any thing although I certainly have my opinions on which.

Toward the end of the interview, also noting research that black men are strongly overrepresented in diagnoses of schizophrenia, and that this data casts doubt on the prevailing model of it as a genetic illness, suggesting again a large social component.

[disclaimer that I am not presenting this as new or shocking stuff, but as something I listened to and found interesting enough to talk about]

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Suspecting I don't fit with any sort of conscious queerness. Too mainstream of a person mayhaps, or some other thing doesn't fit.
Don't like the feeling that I ought to do the same sort of celebratoryness that I see others do. If I tell myself that, it is like telling myself I am an incomplete person without religion?

Feeling adrift and lost, like I don't have a home that I fit anywhere. Has led me to repeatedly wonder if the problem is that some function in my brain which would normally experience community and belongingness is not working right. Although I shouldn't dare claim immunity to associated sorts of social manipulations, as I strongly believe that's false.

It's been hurting more recently (or I think it has - one cannot always trust memory, and what feels like a crescendo of pain might actually just be one continuous chord the most of which has dropped out of awareness into the past) as if I feel like I should have found belonging and it is just not working right. That I think is an error on my part; if I don't fit I don't fit, and re-cutting a jigsaw piece to place on the board solves nothing.

I had a largeish post somewhat accidentally written about how I feel I do not belong with various communities, mainly autism and trans women, which I lost access to posting when my Windows partition decided it was tired of usually booting up correctly. I don't mean to rewrite it here; the gist is that I feel sufficiently unrepresented by the prevailing narratives and concerns as to make a qualitative difference and that although I may hold technical group membership I am sufficiently divorced from the problems so many face that it would be misleading to label and count myself among those numbers.

My suspicion is it would be better all over if I were to practice regarding only the details of immediate circumstance in whatever problem I may face. More precise, less prone to sending me off spinning like a great gyroscope of uncertain reality, and hopefully less liable to appropriation or minimisation of anyone else's life. This entry passed through http://aesmael.dreamwidth.org/672269.html. Comments can probably be made anywhere this entry was posted. Comments on this post already at Dreamwidth: comment count unavailable.

Been reminded of, revived into. That wretched feeling when you[1] are a sort of feminine genderqueer type person and feeling good about yourself, only for some woman to catcall you in the street or make you uncomfortable while you’re at work. Because what she sees apparently some man to be made aware of her regard without consideration for whether it is appropriate or welcome.

Just cuts you right down to nothing, just like that. Anything you might be feeling good about yourself, all gone because someone wanted to use you to feel good about herself.

[1] By ‘you’ I mean ‘me’. But word-flow.

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Sorry about all the reading journal spam. I just wanted to clear out the backlog of things I hadn't crossposted from Tumblr and get it out of the way so I could disentangle from that site. Is all down now. Should be all back to the usual sluggish posting pace henceforth.

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Act 11 – Reunion, Endymion

In the previous chapter and this, there has been a lot of using a drawing of a bunny as shorthand for character’s referring to Usagi. First noticed around when they were on the Moon and, I think it was Sailor Venus, joked about her being a real moon bunny. I’d known for a long while her name was a reference to the moon rabbit, but had not expected her to be depicted so directly with one.

I pretty much always find mind control plots distressing.

Coincidentally illuminating Game Centre conversation explains to us which stones the Four Kings are named for and represent.

Oh, princess. It is not kind to rename your minions in ways they don’t like.

The happenings here are strange. I thought at first Usagi was dreaming again, but apparently she actually made her physical way to the game centre.

This whole chapter is difficult to follow. Apparently more unspecified time is passing and it doesn’t feel like anything is going on but time passing. All the urgency about rescuing Tuxedo Mask or investigating the stone sword or anything else seems very intermittent, almost a token gesture while a long span of nothingness or ominous seduction is going on. Found it difficult to recognise Minako and Makoto or distinguish them from each other – Ami and Rei are much more distinctive to me in their appearance and it is significantly easier for me to recognise them and their contributions to the story.

I didn’t like at the end that Makoto was vulnerable to Endymion’s hypnosis. Found it a bit more understandable that Usagi would be shocked and delayed in her ability to react, but puzzled that apparently the others were there, and yet it seemed like Sailor Venus fighting alone. Also, how is it that Beryl is able to show up everywhere at the end of fights?

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Act 10 – Moon

I’m having increasing difficulty recognising where are the boundaries between these chapters.

Tuxedo Mask / Endymion captured, a portion of the power of the Legendary Silver Crystal absorbed into his body. Surely the stage is set for a bold and dramatic rescue of not only our heroine’s love, but also the aspect of that which she guards that is contained within him.

Fortunately the Dark Kingdom is utterly foiled by whatever ineffable magic is going on here. I would think it is something related to the unity of their hearts, so that though he now holds the active part of the Legendary Silver Crystal’s power within him, and she possesses the crystal which once contained it, the both shall remain inert until brought together again in a moment of romantic honesty.

We shall see how well that bears out.

Cats, travelling a small eternity from the Moon to Earth in little tubes. Seems deathly dull and tedious, can see why Luna might not want to remember that.

All this talk of awakening the characters to their past lives, ‘true selves’, it all seems rather romantisexual. “[H]er awakening happened in a way we didn’t anticipate” - falling for the reincarnation of her past love, mutual self-sacrifice and passionate desire to save one another. Awakening to knowledge and duty, but at the same time to love, and through love Sailor Moon has however inadvertently seized some part of her destiny to herself, away from the plans others would make for her.

Side effects of losing your prince may include becoming Rapunzel.

I like Rei’s eerie pronouncements but the lack of urgency in this part of the story was weird to me. Tuxedo Mask has been captured, but Usagi spends a week crying in her room before realising he needs rescuing? And then they wait however long it further takes for the moon to become full so they can visit the former kingdom and gain information. It’s suggested to be a necessary wait to do what they need to do but it still feels weird.

Was surprised the Moon (normally I might refer to the Moon as Luna, as a proper name instead of a descriptive label for that body. but we have a character named Luna in this story and that might be confusing) looks like its actual self. I was expecting some sort of habitable fantasy place.

Apparently the Four Kings were not revived in the previous chapter? Seems again like only Kunzite remains, and then an unknown time after the trip to the Moon he too is finally defeated back to gem form in their “second time in space”. Their story has grown a lot more tragic with backstory, now that we know their true mission is to serve and guard Endymion, but that they have been co-opted and taken over by Beryl and the Dark Kingdom.

The part where Endymion is revived to act as Beryl’s servant, I remember finding this part of the story annoying in the anime adaptation. But, we shall see. Also, Beryl’s insistence to Metaria that he is still useful alive puts me in mind of Vader to the Emperor about Luke, especially since she then does go and make a servant of him.

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Act 9 Serenity, Princess

Although from the feel of the narrative it was relatively easy to tell where this chapter began and the last left off, more or less, I still when it came to actually writing these got a bit confused as the title page does not match where the table of contents says the story begins (nor where it feels like the transition is, which is closer to agreeing with the TOC). At first I thought the TOC might be incorrect but it seemed to match with the previous chapters, so my current opinion is that this chapter has an especially long introductory segment before ‘giving away’ its title.

Apparently Makoto / Jupiter plays a large role in discerning the danger this episode and warning the others of it.

-5 points Sailor Moon being saved by Tuxedo Mask again

+ um, I don’t know, 20 points for the look on his face after she kisses him?

A wild title screen appears! But, it’s halfway through the chapter.

Heroic self-sacrifice, enabling the protagonist to recall her identity and powers (to an extent) thanks to the intensity of her grief. I feel sure I have seen that before but apart from Pokemon I am failing to recall where.

The forehead symbol-changing sequence looks unpleasant. I imagine it being accompanied by a wrenching sense of identity-shifting which is perhaps no less painful for Sailor V(enus) than for Usagi / Sailor Moon / Princess Serenity.

Also how this seems to be the culmination of a thread through recent chapters and pages of people, including Usagi herself, wondering how many faces she has to present to the world and how real the person she has been is.

And then we dive into the tragic backstory of the doomed romance between Serenity and Endymion, their long-past lives. Star-crossed lovers, forbidden by the laws of just how things are. So not only was Endymion the Prince of Earth as Serenity is the Princess of the Moon but Beryl was Queen of the Earth, presumably his mother.

That’s a big shock. I hadn’t been expecting so close a relationship between them, although I had been wondering what each of their domains were and whether it might be Earth. And apparently Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite and Kunzite are the Earthly counterparts to the Sailor Scouts, the gems of the Earth to match the gems of the heavens. Good thing we got a wave of healing silver crystal energy to revive them after their very abrupt departures earlier.

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Act 8 Minako, Sailor V

Ongoing storyyyy!!

It feels a bit unfair to the existing cast to have Minako / Sailor V show up to announce she’s the princess they’ve been assigned to find and protect, and that she’s been keeping a hidden training eye on them the whole time. Especially that she’s already taken care of hiding away the ‘Legendary Silver Crystal’ that’s so important, too. She is gracious and princessly though, taking time to greet our heroes and commend them on their fine achievements so far.

I suppose if Luna was unaware of all this and was directing them sincerely that isn’t so bad. But, it comes across like much of what has happened so far has been misdirected, chasing shadow goals.

Of course I originally read this whole volume on a train ride and what’s actually going on (assuming there isn’t yet another retrospective recasting later) is fairly clear to see. Especially if you already watched some of the old anime adaptation as a child.

But now I am taking some time to dwell on this chapter by itself and I can’t decide. If I had been reading this in its original serialisation as it came out, would I have been bothered by these developments pulling story out from under me? Or would I have been excited at how it twists and turns and promises future adventure and development?

P.S. In looking up for the previous chapter to be sure ‘The Four Kings of Heaven’ was the correct term of reference I found that according to Wikipedia at least ‘Queen Metalia’ is an early mistranslation and officially it should be Queen Metaria[1]. Assuming that is the case I shall strive to use the correct name henceforth; I don’t know why this 2011 translation would preserve an error like that, except perhaps cultural inertia.

[1] What might be more difficult for me is not consistently misspelling this as ‘Materia’.

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Act 7: Mamoru Chiba, Tuxedo Mask

Usagi, holding up Tuxedo Mask’s glasses in his room:

"Why didn’t I notice before?"

In fact I could have sworn she had noticed before, except flipping back through the first volume this does not appear to be the case.

And she has fallen for him so haaard. I suppose, narratively speaking, this is the point where the characters reveal and discover the strength of their feelings for each other before circumstances of drama conspire to keep them apart. The long journey before their love can be fully manifested into their lives.

Thinking thoughts about how to construct a romance story and where the tension comes from.

And of course at this point his identity, background and motivations remain still hidden even to himself. Especially because Luna has been keeping information from the protagonists to dole out at whatever time is deemed appropriate.

Queen Metalia! Up to this point, pretty sure I believed Queen Beryl was the apex villain here, answering to no one. So that was a shock.

Bit odd having a queen serving a queen, but I suppose the real world throws up such oddities too? The actual exchange between them puts me in mind of Volyova waking the Captain to consult with him in Revelation Space.

Now that Queen Beryl has been revealed as having a greater evil she serves there is room for her to develop an inner monologue, room for her to contemplate regret and the conflicts of her own desires and perceived destiny.

That this story again continues directly on from the previous one makes me feel like it is finally moving, as if we have gotten beyond the introductory phase and onto more ongoing narrative.

At this point suspicion should be encouraged of any new craze or institution suddenly springing up in the city. It’s also a bit worrying how everything gets worse when Ami tries to analyse the videotape at the game centre. The horde of mind-controlled people is quite scary , although cured and dispersed with the typical ease of the story so far.

Inducement of the general populace to do ill in Sailor Moon seems to be like a fog of the mind, and shine a bright enough light it will disperse quickly, because people for the most part are decent and not willing to serve evil ends.

I had been meaning to remark on how swiftly and easily the Four Kings of Heaven were getting killed off in each of their confrontations, but it has been growing less so on each occasions. In this case he seemed - I did not find the story clear on which this was - he seemed quite tough and unable to be done in by the three who were there to face him. Until of course Sailor Venus shows up to defeat him in a dramatic cliffhanger reveal at the very end, right when she is finally needed.

Plotful in motion!

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Act 6: Tuxedo Mask

So that’s the whole group now? And Usagi is pleased and surprised to be announced the leader despite that she has been leading them through several chapters now.

"The Moon Stick is a new item. It is sure to aid you in your battles with the enemy. I’ll teach you how to use it later."

No, Luna. Surely you should teach her how to use it approximately now? That just seems like begging for trouble when something comes up before Usagi has learned to use it.

Intro has shifted from describing Usagi as her regular self to describing the Sailor Scouts as a group. But I suppose this story is also different in following directly on from the previous chapter rather than an indeterminate number of days later like the others had been.

Mamoru Chiba shirtless by a big plate window drinking from a bottle. Reckon that’s meant to be a spot of enjoyment but with the art style doesn’t quite do anything for me (much cuter when he’s calling Usagi bunhead a couple of pages on >__>). A bit weird for Makoto to be teasing her for having an interest in multiple guys when unseriousness in love and lack of monogamous intention was such a hot button for her last chapter.

Found the action and art in this difficult to follow again at the climax. Feels a bit tensed and rushed, maybe? Or maybe I am reflecting my own feelings reading it. And the resolution felt abrupt too, just activate the Moon Stick and the day is saved.

I suppose that is not the real climax, however. The real climax is Tuxedo Mask revealing he knows who Usagi is and then her waking up in his apartment with him as Mamoru Chiba, thereby finally ending the tension of their not knowing each others’ dual identities. I shan’t be missing that.

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Act 5: Makoto, Sailor Jupiter


So I was right that ominous storm at the end of the previous meant the coming of Sailor Jupiter.

Still with Usagi introducing herself at the beginning of each chapter.

I found the art and story confusing to follow in this one. Had to look hard a few times to be almost sure that was Makoto who pushed Usagi out of traffic, and who Usagi was mooning over right after. And I had no clue until rereading to write this that she also later saved Usagi from a stray baseball.

Am amused by Sailor Moon’s surprise when Makoto turns out to be one of the team. The getting new people pattern has been running strong so far.

Finding Makoto very appealing, like with Rei. So far her only traits are being tall and strong and courageous I suppose, but those are pretty excellent traits to have. Someone I can potentially identify with.

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I was disappointed in this book, maybe because I expected the wrong things from it. I didn’t realise at first this was a prequel to the main series with different characters. Suspect I was also mistaken about the general premise, that it is not mysteries solved under the direct spiritual guidance of the deceased Aunt Dimity, although since I’ve not read any of the others I don’t know for sure how they normally go.

The mystery wasn’t very interesting partly because it largely felt like it resolved itself. Same for the romance. There were some feel-good moments but that was largely counterbalanced by the class stuff and the way the lead Emma Porter gets pushed into the shape of this story and the destiny chosen for her whether she wants it or not.

I’ve read romances I like more — The Nightingale Sings by Charlotte Bingham — and some I like much less — The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller, which I’d rather call something like Masculinity Theatre than romance.

I don’t think I’d read another Aunt Dimity book but I suppose I don’t hugely regret reading this one.
  1. Aunt Dimity and the Duke, first section
  2. Aunt Dimity and the Duke, second section
  3. Aunt Dimity and the Duke, third section
  4. Aunt Dimity and the Duke, fourth section
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11. Good and Valuable Consideration [Jack Reacher vs. Joseph Finder] by Lee Child vs. Nick Heller

Lee Child’s Reacher books were the only ones I’d read any of prior to this anthology and I’d liked them, so I had been looking forward to this story. I suppose it was a little disappointing in that sense, for lacking any grand quest to resolve?

Instead, a constrained little story wherein our heroes meet by chance in a bar and take it upon themselves to help out some hapless soul who’s been selected for violent blackmail. It wasn’t much, but it was okay. I may or may not check out the Finder stories in future.

Also, amusing because Finder and Reacher very much come across as counterparts, cut from a similar mould. It made sense to put them together like that even though I would think normally you want to avoid having two similar characters together. This entry passed through http://aesmael.dreamwidth.org/669694.html. Comments can probably be made anywhere this entry was posted. Comments on this post already at Dreamwidth: comment count unavailable.

10. The Devil’s Bones [Cotton Malone vs. Gray Pierce] by Steve Berry vs. James Rollins

I liked that there had been allusions in the characters’ books previous to this story that they knew each other, so that it played out more like a reunion. Not so much fond of the proliferation of hyper-competent agents of US political will and the agencies that employ them, but one almost cannot get super-spies without some form of imperialist chauvinism, and I do like a good bit of super-spy action.

Also not liking: saving the Amazonian natives from murderous band of gun-toting villains; another plot of protect + capture Pandora’s flask of death (bioweapon in “Pit Stop”, deadly neurotoxin in this story), although perhaps I shouldn’t fault multiple stories in a collection like this for drawing on the same such trope; conveniently disposed source of super poison so no one has to worry about it showing up in a future story; surprisingly literal use of Chekhov’s Gun to save the day once the box is open.

And yet I liked this story overall and liked the heroes. I’m interested to read more of their adventures but suspect I might miss the way they played off each other here, in their own books. This entry passed through http://aesmael.dreamwidth.org/669354.html. Comments can probably be made anywhere this entry was posted. Comments on this post already at Dreamwidth: comment count unavailable.

8. Pit Stop [Sean Reilly vs. Glen Garber] by Raymond Khoury vs. Linwood Barclay

This one was a bit forgettable and I suppose that sums it up fairly well. With Barclay apparently not using series characters these days, and the one he last wrote being of a sort to completely avoid involvement in the scenario presented, we end up with one half of the duo who mainly brings to it the terror of potentially losing one’s rather young daughter, while Sean Reilly of the FBI handles the active parts of the story.

Except he doesn’t, quite, because mainly the day is saved by Garber’s 10-year-old daughter Kelly thinking inventively while held hostage, and Reilly to clean up. So perhaps it is really more a team-up of Sean Reilly and Kelly Garber. Barclay not having a current series character I suppose is excluded from my evaluating “Do I want to read more of this character?” that I’ve been doing, although not-appearing-in-this-story Zack Walker sounds maybe interesting. Can’t really tell from this short whether I’d want to see more of Sean Reilly either. This entry passed through http://aesmael.dreamwidth.org/668979.html. Comments can probably be made anywhere this entry was posted. Comments on this post already at Dreamwidth: comment count unavailable.

7. Infernal Night [Michael Quinn vs. Repairman Jack] by Heather Graham vs. F. Paul Wilson

Like “The Laughing Buddha” this story had explicitly supernatural elements, which makes the lack of them in “Gaslighted” more puzzling. And yet I find it weird this continues to bug me, as the story works well for what it is, and it’s hardly as if I am familiar with the source material and thereby bothered by an unfaithfulness.

Anyway, this one was interesting with lone wolf for hire ‘Jack’, “just Jack”, he would say, and every time I could not help thinking of that character from Will & Grace who I never liked - lone wolf for hire “Jack” hired all the way down from New York to New Orleans for a suspiciously simple request by a suspiciously wealthy and loosely moral benefactor.

Suspicions borne out when he manages to avoid a fight with Michael Quinn and conferring they discover they’ve been set against each other. It’s all to do with tremendously perilous ancient artefacts they’ve both had experience with in a way which comes across as tying strongly to the ongoing mythology of both characters. I’m not familiar with either of them, but in this story it feels very well integrated. Quinn is an agent of another (Danni Cafferty) as the muscle protecting people from dangerous magic, and although Jack seems to be mainly in the business of mundane dangers he’s had run-ins with magic too. The tale he tells sounds too specific and significant for me to think it wasn’t covered in one of his prior stories.

This story seems to be weaving Jack’s past into Quinn’s present so well that it makes sense for it to have an ongoing impact on both characters and their future stories. Pretty good on that front then, bringing together two characters and making me feel like of course they would share a setting, of course. Think I’d be interested in checking out both their series.

This is another example of what I was talking about wert “Gaslighted”, New Orleans as the mystic well of America, the place where magic lives and from which white heroes draw fantastical adventures. It also put me in mind of Alastair Reynolds’ stories in his Conjoiner setting, particularly the planet Yellowstone and the character of the Mademoiselle[1]. Makes me wonder if the imagery for that may have been drawn somewhat also from New Orleans.

[1] Apart from having a similar name to Madame de Medici, they are implied to have similar backstories according to my reading of the relevant stories.

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6. Rhymes With Prey [Lincoln Rhyme vs. Lucas Davenport] by Jeffrey Deaver vs. John Sandford

This one I also liked from the start, especially being back to detectives working together to solve crimes. Had some fun of ‘thinks like me’ with the way they were considering even unlikely possibilities before deciding which approaches to focus on. That was enjoyable - it seems like actual detective stories are surprisingly rare among crime fiction, or maybe this is more a matter of how it goes in the short form (admittedly these are technically more thrillers than anything else).

I didn’t like the way it felt like BDSM was portrayed as inherently unpleasant, unhealthy thing to engage in. If there must be a villainous BDSM-interested character (not convinced of this), why can’t this be investigated by characters who are non-disgusted or even kinky themselves? Would help to draw a distinction between what people do and abusive or murderous corruptions of that. Reading this, that got to me a bit. I’m increasingly fed up with this sort of portrayal in fiction.

I was also put off by the later twists and turns in plot development, which seemed to come out of nowhere or to be drawing a very long bow of coincidence and connection. That was also a bit disappointing because it felt like the story just kept going on past when it should have ended, but also as if things were happening to fast (maybe I was in a rush because lunch break?). I also was put off by some tendency to the male to discuss their attraction to their female assistants. It felt very ‘pending romance’, and it felt very male-gazey in terms of appearance and relation focus.

Despite all this, I liked it enough to continue to plan to read Deaver’s novels, and to potentially look into Sandford’s too. I do worry this is some kind of betrayal of principles to continuing reading work by authors when I found this piece objectionable in so many ways that seem like they should be important. But I suppose I can read whatever I want. Assuming I continue to want to.

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5. Surfing The Panther [Paul Madriani vs. Alexandra Cooper] by Steve Martini vs. Linda Fairstein

This one mostly interested me after a confrontational start - I’ve become rather averse to arguments, so the initial back and forth put me off a little. But once the story itself got underway I was interested the ‘lawyers attempting to uncover the truth of a case’.

The resolution bothered me because near the beginning there were some possibilities I saw, and dismissed on the basis of that didn’t seem to be where the story was going and if the characters weren’t picking up on it I was probably being over-alert for tropes not being invoked here. And yet - you guessed it - turned out what I suspected at the beginning was roughly what was actually being pulled here. This diminished my appreciation because it meant the characters were being unalert at the beginning of the story.

Still liked the part where Madriani and Cooper were cooperating, and somewhat interested in checking out their books in future. But this is still dampened somewhat by how the story overall turned out. This entry passed through http://aesmael.dreamwidth.org/668236.html. Comments can probably be made anywhere this entry was posted. Comments on this post already at Dreamwidth: comment count unavailable.

4. The Laughing Buddha [Malachai Samuels vs. D.D. Warren] by M.J. Rose vs. Lisa Gardner

I think this story was inherently going to be disappointing for what I wanted out of these. Like the previous story this one was hero vs. villain, not hero teaming up with hero as the first two were. Worse - from my perspective - Samuels is a protagonist villain, ever-slippery evading the grasp of the law, so this is effectively forbidden from being a story in which D.D. Warren gets one over him.

Since I’m not familiar with either character I can’t tell how usual or not this one is for their stories, but here Samuels is not the direct villain. Just someone who gives off villain vibes and would rather get hold of key evidence to satisfy his personal goals.

Ultimately felt unsatisfying, like it was just some stuff that happened without resolution. Seemed particularly not a good recommendation for the Malachai Samuels stories, as I get the impression he is on a quest treadmill and perhaps never quite gets to further his goals. Maybe if I were familiar with and already liked the characters I would have enjoyed seeing them in action again.

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I know I made a post just recently about my wish that adapting sff genre works from prose to television would become commonplace, but now news is going around about one such adaptation that I'm skeptical about, the Foundation series.

The Foundation stories are so much a bundled set of short stories with cast and time period changing what seems like every few thousand words, I wonder how they're going to manage any sense of continuity. At that rate I'd expect a cast turnover every couple of episodes.

Then again, Asimov's writing was so distant and sparsely characterised for the Foundation stories, maybe it would be a great opportunity for writers to dive in and explore character drama at length. Not as if there is much pre-existing material for them to conflict with here.

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Listening to an episode of The Philosopher's Zone this morning, The Sorites Paradox. I haven't listened to the whole episode yet but was struck by the guest Dominic Hyde's explanation of what a paradox is.

All paradoxes are characterised by the following general set of features: that we proceed by apparently valid reasoning, that is, apparently good reasoning, from apparently true assumptions to an apparently absurd conclusion.

This shed a lot of light for me, as I had previously believed that for a paradox to properly be a paradox it must be self-contradictory. But with the definition given here then perhaps I was mistaken about ideas such as the Twin Paradox being misnamed as paradoxes.

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If I'm not listening to music for some dedicated purpose (currently, reviewing my entire collection after a drive crash for sound quality, and to then catalogue it again) I tend to prefer album shuffling over individual tracks. I have not listened to music for its own sake in a long while.

Today the spinny wheel came up on Voyageur by Enigma. I used to listen to that album a lot for uplift but again, not for a long time. So of course now I want to share a few tracks.

For the period in which I was listening this afternoon, "Boum-Boum" got to enjoy being my favourite love song (although that is the radio edit and not the album version) .

However, the two songs that nearly always bring tears to my eyes are "Total Eclipse of the Moon" and "Following the Sun".



Enigma has always tended to resonate strongly with me, especially when I am low.
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Programming: Voyageur

I'm sure I have said this before, but I think I would rather love if it became commonplace for sff novels or series of any note or moderate success to receive some ~faithful audiovisual serial adaptation.

I don't think that having a television adaptation is some higher level of 'having made it' that stamps its recipients with a seal of worthiness. But, the prospect of having an additional format-shifted version of stories I enjoy delights me.

It would be neat to see such a trend take off in a plethora of visual styles, various animations or live action takes according to what ever style best suits the source material (really it would be wonderful to see more understanding that an animated story is not necessarily a trivialised story or strictly 'for kids').

Sometimes I'd rather watch something than read, or vice versa. Or sometimes watching something together is an easier way to share a story than thrusting a book into eir hands. But really, really, I want to see our narrative culture expanded to include such story translations as a commonplace of the landscape. This entry passed through http://aesmael.dreamwidth.org/667133.html. Comments can probably be made anywhere this entry was posted. Comments on this post already at Dreamwidth: comment count unavailable.

Sky’s pink. I think that means tomorrow’s weather is gnomes or flamingos or something.

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Tags:

Overheard PA announcement from nearby primary school. Distortion made it sound like GLaDOS. Frightening thought.

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Yesterday was a busy sort of day. In the morning I finally made and attended a dental appointment I had been putting off for most of the year (he wanted to remove my wisdom teeth, but first I was travelling and then I felt overwhelmed by the combination of school and work). Had check-up, revealing no further decay, which pleased me, and a fresh referral for getting my jaw x-rayed to find out what extractions may need to be performed.

Also visited the local shops and picked up ingredients. Some of which I used that evening to make a tasty modified Manhattan Crab Chowder (née Clam) and some of which I hope to use later this week (tomorrow, ideally) to make Strawberry Bread, and Bream with Horseradish and Apple Topping. I still need to secure the bream.

Later in the evening, at my sister's urging, I played Skyrim for a couple of hours. That was a bit exhausting. I created an orc character with the aim of pushing for heavy armour martial sorts of actions, but seem doomed to playing a sneaky sort of character as my natural inclinations draw me to scouting and investigating.

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I feel like all the life and love was drained out of me long ago, and it hurts.

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Today was perhaps a good day, although not what I anticipated. I ended up spending about three hours playing games in multiplayer which I had not planned. First, a while playing Alien Swarm again with Ami and Grace, the latter of whom I have rather missed (I do not miss Ami because I have daily contact with her still, which is good). That started out as a test effort to get a three-player game of Secret of Mana going, but this seems to be an unattainable goal. Instead, we defaulted to freely available space marine squad shooting up swarms of aggressive alien bug-things.

It was wonderful to get to hang out and laugh and have fun with friends again. I missed it a lot and hope I will be able to make more time in my life for this, that more opportunities for repeating the experience will be available.

Later, since we can't get a third player, Ami and I started our Secret of Mana game over again with the new circumstances in mind. Also fun times, and conveniently allowing me to see how the plot began instead of joining it partway through like I had last time (there was not much plot).

In betweentimes I worked some more on the database of books and stories I have read that I have been building for ill-defined and scarcely considered reasons. But at least I am potentially learning new skills in the process.

Yesterday was also not what I expected. I woke in the morning to find Avast had reported a virus in its scanning and recommended a further scan at boot. I let it go ahead with that, forgetting how long those take, and was consequently without my computer for 7 hours. This meant conversations had to be carried out via the far less comfortable medium of my phone. I ended up planning out some meals for - hopefully - the next week, and also started rereading through Berserk to pass the time. Currently am at Volume 3 and aim to stop there for a while. I'm aiming to be a bit more flexible in my reading in the future, but that is not something I can dive right into, and I have "things to do" meanwhile.

Losing such a chunk of November first also put a damper on any aspirations I may have had to participate in NaNoWriMo, although I'd not entertained any idea of actually attaining 50,000 words anyway. I still might try and manage a burst of writing, which I'd like to do regardless of the month.
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Worldline: ambivalent
Filter: tiredtired
Programming: insufficient

Last week I had occasion a couple of times to be shelving and tidying near where a small group seemed to be studying medicine. As far as I could tell, this group was being led by a black man and something about his voice reminded me of the character Jar Jar Binks from the Star Wars prequels. I couldn't say in what way, as I can't think of any particular detail to pin that on.

I had known that that character was acted and voiced by a black man, but being reminded of the character 'out in the world' put me thinking about how that role was essentially caricaturing and putting up as comedy the speaking voice of many black men. It was not a wise design decision, I reckon.

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