Got up this morning, packed for Ukiah, did a little garden work.
At 11:15 left for my dental cleaning and checkup. I'm pleased to say that everything is good.
Tazlina and I left straight for Ukiah.
Got the last three items to finish the sprayer repair. Then realized I had to fix the electric fence at the Iris Barn first. The tenants had managed to kill the battery through a combination of ignorance, neglect and a lot of fast growing greenery. Sigh. I was concerned that the fence charger was dead as well. The new charger couldn't be put in the place of the old charger as it was just a bit too close to some overhead high voltage lines. They weren't a problem for the old chargers, but the new ones have fancier electronics that could be affected. The new chargers also need more ground rods, a total of four, six foot rods driven completely into the ground at the new site. I had three mostly driven in, but they all needed to go down one more foot into sticky hard clay. It took a lot of pounding with a sledgehammer. I managed to break one of the "acorn" connectors that fasten the wire to the ground stake. The replacement wouldn't fit over the top of the stake till I had filed off the edges where the sledgehammer had splayed it out.
Once the ground stakes were in and wired up I installed a wire under the gate leading to the east. I think that east fence line (which is falling apart) is the very first fence built way back in about 1985. It has needed electricity run to it since then!!! A little later it was extremely satisfying to see a young steer start to stick his head through the fence and push on it. Oops! He jumped back and trotted off shaking his head.
With a new battery and the fence charger housing moved, it was time to check the fence and weed whack under it. The first fence I mowed under clearly hadn't even been connected to the electric fence charger. Walking around the old arena revealed half a dozen young cattle and the bull, all in my horse pasture. The youngsters gaily walked through the fence. A quick glance showed that this fence too never been connected to the electricity. The bull was one fence further in. Tazlina and I opened a couple of gates, made a big circle around the bull and started moving him slowly toward the open gates. He was pretty good, eventually seeing his way out and trotting happily back to the cows. One of the important things is never to really pressure bulls. Give them plenty of time to think about what to do. Usually they will back down and move away. It was almost full dark before I had the fences pounded back, connected and the electricity on. Bet they don't go through those fences again!!
Their smell, though, coaxed loose by the precise and insistent raindrops, seems stronger and sweeter than on a bright day. Beyond the familiar peppery scent, something in them admits finally to being flowers.
There's a good cedary smell tonight, too, like a new fence, a young smell maybe also lifted up out of old wood and stain by the water's alchemy.
A fat black-and-white cat surges like a storm cloud into a foggy window, as if responding to me, but not looking at me.
There is a hole worn right through the concrete here, near the new sidewalk, showing through to the storm sewer like a wound.
This was a long day, and not a happy one, but these small witnessings are more than compensation; they are a clear rain that drives the ugly fragments into the gutter, down the drain, out into the great night-soaked ocean.
Though sometime I may have to retrieve and make sense of them, right now I am just grateful for a small clear space.
Her towers of fear in wreck,
Her limbecks dried of poisons
And the knife at her neck,
The Queen of air and darkness
Begins to shrill and cry,
'O young man, O my slayer,
To-morrow you shall die.'
O Queen of air and darkness,
I think 'tis truth you say,
And I shall die to-morrow;
But you will die to-day.
(Anybody want to expound on why it's "I shall" vs. "you will"?)
- put legs on wheel
- Do Market shopping (Thursday next? )
I expect there are other things. This will do for a start. 8-)
I have been reading Silas Marner by Eliot and because this is the Penguin Classics edition, and because it is a short novel, there are about forty pages of introduction. Which I have not read.
There are also about fifteen pages of notes. Which I have read, and which I have enjoyed hugely. They are lengthy and digressive, as the best notes always are, and the writer has much to say about dissenting sects in the nineteenth century.
Beatrice Webb, a professional social investigator, concluded that the Co-operative Societies and the Trade Unions, the Friendly Societies and the Labour Party, owed everything to the training that the chapel form of worship provided for the working-class (see Chapter 3 of My Apprenticeship).
I did not know this. It makes perfect sense.
Finished Too Flash. Interesting, and not what I thought it was going to be like. The structure of the book felt like it was searching for its own heart, its own subject, in the same way that the protagonist, Zo, was searching for hers. Both book and character got there in the end. It reminded me of Jenny Pausacker's Central High books in some ways, but more up to date and much less white. I want to read more by Lucashenko. Tiny disappointment: I thought Zo was gay or bi (there was a line earlier on that sounded like it confirmed this, plus she and Missy had some UST going on) but that never got followed up.
Back to wrestling with Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It got better, and then it got worse again.
"Usually this leadership group is made up of men..." [here I stopped reading and said aloud "Well, there's your problem right there"] "...of men who in one way or another have belonged to the social strata of the dominators. At a certain point, in their existential experience, under certain historical conditions, these men renounce the class to which they belong and join the oppressed, in an act of true solidarity (or so one would hope)." Isn't it nice when the picture you draw of What This Revolution Needs comes out looking exactly like you?
So, comrade Freire, why can't the oppressed class be the revolutionary leaders? "It is extremely unlikely that these self-mistrustful, downtrodden, hopeless people will seek their own liberation -- an act of rebellion which they may view as a disobedient violation of the will of God, as an unwarranted confrontation with destiny." Oh. I see.
You know how I wrote earlier about the inherent contradictions in writing a book about revolutionary education for oppressed illiterates written in jargon even most university graduates would have some difficulty with? There is no contradiction. He's THAT guy. The one who is here for you, everything he is doing here is for YOUR sake, he WANTS to help you realise your full potential, but you have to do it on his terms, and he's the one who decides when you've learned the necessary lessons.
Which will only come when you accept him as your new thought leader while simultaneously humouring his fantasy that because he "betrayed" his ruling class background to come help liberate you from their rule by becoming your new leader, that means he's just as working class as you.
He even writes about this particular danger of revolutionary leaders and how they should be careful NOT to fall into that trap.
19 more pages to go. There are some really great paragraphs here, and some fucking awful chapters. :(
[Disclaimer: my parents are an academic and a psychologist. QED, I am not working class myself. I'm on disability, but I have more safety net than most people on disability because of my family, and also the privilege of not having been poor growing up, and of having been taught/enabled to regard authority figures as my social equals. I think it's important for me to acknowledge this while I'm tearing strips out of someone else for his unchecked privilege, lest I sound even more like Seivarden Vendaai Discovers Class Discourse 101. While I have had my own run-ins with "that guy" described above, mine were on a different axis of privilege, disability not class.]
Started reading Kate Elliott's Black Wolves, the first of her books I've read. So far... it's not hard work, and that's a relief, that's why I picked up a blockbuster fantasy novel from the library, and I do like the setting, but I do feel like it's missing something. Some subtle flavour or other. Maybe it'll show up later in the book.
TV and Movies
Went to see Hidden Figures. SO good.
It's so important that this movie got made, and did well, that it'd be churlish to criticise it at all. But if I did have a criticism, it'd be that it bent over a bit too far in the Not ALL White People direction. Which was probably what they had to do, to get it past the gatekeepers. The business with the bathroom sign in particular was a white saviour fantasy on a level I can only express in hexadecimal, namely #FFFFFF. (And I didn't notice the swearword hashtag until looking again at what I just typed, but I stand by it.)
APART from that bullshit, just... well, it's actually amazing how little of that bullshit there was, and how much they pushed back at it. Like the part when Kirsten Dunst's character (successful white career woman who's possibly (the film didn't state either way) very supportive of her white female colleagues, but is pulling up that ladder behind them as fast as she can) meets Dorothy Vaughan in the bathroom and tries to be all "believe it or not, I have nothing against you," and gee, I suppose, but you sure are not even one fraction of one percent for her, are you? And Octavia Spencer, as Dorothy Vaughan, replies something like "I can believe that you might think that," which is as close to a "you keep telling yourself that, arsehole" as she could possibly have gotten under the circumstances.
Taraji P. Henson's performance as Katherine Johnson was the heart of the film, and she and Janelle Monáe's Mary Jackson were amazing, but the part I loved the most was actually Dorothy Vaughan's arc, about thinking forward to the need to retrain herself and her workers as programmers so they wouldn't be put out of work by the new computing machines. When she taught herself FORTRAN and taught all her workers too and insisted they be hired along with her.
And this wasn't presented as some sort of fluffy innate nurturing quality in her, some sort of facile 'Johnson's the smart one, Jackson's the sexy one, Vaughan's the motherly one.' Ugh. It could have been, but it wasn't. You could see that all three of the protagonists were brilliant (and nurturing, and romantic/sexual people.) Vaughan got a couple of scenes on her own with the IBM machine, troubleshooting it and using punchcards for the first time (identifying it as female -- you could see the logic there: all the human computers are women, so the digital computer must be female too; and she could have hated it or wanted to sabotage it, but she didn't, she saw its beauty immediately) and you could see that that was where she wanted to be, where her genius was. Her teaching and looking after her team (above and beyond the requirements of her job, I mean) was because it was the right thing to do. An act of solidarity, of justice.
Watched some more B99. It's interesting, because I do have an embarassment squick, but it's gotten less intense lately and I forgot it existed. The Thanksgiving episode reminded me. *cringe*
More Stardew Valley, of course. My veggies took first prize at the fair. Suck it, Pierre! Emoji have a lot to answer for: every time I pull up an eggplant, I think of dicks. Disconcerting.
Finished the Archon Drom story arc of The Hidden Almanac, which was a lot of fun. I am staring down the barrel of a Hidden Almanac shortage, though. Gonna have to find something else soothing and safe to listen to right before bed. It might be time to catch up on my Jay and Miles X-Plain The X-Men listening. Which is not nearly as soothing, but is safe for whatever nebulous value of safe my backbrain assigns to such things.
Started my first compost bin. Beatrice and Dorian helped by supplying the bin's first contribution, the contents of their litter boxes. I am informed that this means I shouldn't use the resulting compost on my veggies, under penalty of toxoplasmosis, but it's fine for flowers. So I'll start some flowers, and it'll mean Beatrice and Dorian aren't contributing as much to landfill. Go them.
Bunnings are selling daffodil bulbs, and oh yeah, that's because it's March, and March is when the bulbs go on sale. I forgot, because it is STILL FUCKING SUMMER. I bought a value-bag of 14 and put them in the crisper drawer of the fridge, because like fuck is it time to plant them.
I also bought another marigold (how are marigolds still flowering?) and a couple of tiny cacti which I put in a planter on the windowsill in one room where the cats aren't allowed (the one with what Dorian likes to believe is a cat-sized swimming pool) and added little Pokemon figurines. There is already a plastic skull on that windowsill. I ROCK at interior decor.
Tomatoes are still growing even though it is nearly April. But global warming is just a myth, right? One of the Russian Black ones finally ripened enough for me to eat it, and it may have been the best tomato I ever tasted. I'm not usually given to hyperbole, and I want to hedge that "best" even further because I'm shit at ranking things best-worst and I can't remember all the tomatoes I've eaten, and Russian Black tomatoes are normally very good... but wow that was a good tomato. Easily the best one I've eaten this year.
Playing with i3wm customisation. I've been using i3 for nearly a year now, but hadn't done more than the bare minimum to make it habitable (i.e. moved the bar up the top and deleted the alerts I didn't need so they wouldn't glare red at me) until now. I have now learned about the screen locker app, proper deployment of feh as a wallpaper app, and some very minor keybinding adjustments.
I also created a test user account and messed harder than that with the settings there (trying to learn the GNU stash app, and to import other people's dotfiles unaltered) with less success (unless you count the fact that I did so on a test account and didn't lock myself out of my own user account -- that's its own sort of success.)
Other customisations I want to do soon:
- the config line that looks in a wallpaper directory and randomly picks a different one for each workspace, each session (the Arch wiki is extremely helpful on what exact line to put in your config to do that. I love the Arch wiki.)
- the "open this application in this workspace on startup" thing. Which is complicated because I have seven different Firefox windows open, all full of tabs, and Opinions on which one should be in which workspace, but as far as i3 knows they're all just Firefox. And workspace 1 is terminals, of course, but last time I tried to use the i3 script that lets you save your layout, I fell into a maze of twisty Perl back-compatibility problems, all alike. But even if I just tell if to open one terminal in workspace 1, open all the Firefoxes in workspace 2, and open a text editor in workspace 9, that's a start, right?
- the one I would really love to do, but suspect is going to be more difficult and complicated than I'd like to think: terminal transparency, with a different background behind each terminal window. I have these motivational memes (an angry lion captioned 'Gladly Feast On Those Who Would Subdue You' and so on, and of course Heal Yourself, Skeletor, and Calmage Wolfatee and so on) that I'd like to be able to see dimly behind my terminals. I figure that because i3 does containers and each window is in its own container, it should be possible to run a different instance of feh in each new container in workspace 1, but I haven't tested it and this is way beyond my level of knowledge or experience.
- a pleasing and harmonious colour scheme for terminal text and the i3 bar (I'd like to use lemonbar, but haven't gotten lemonbar to work yet.)
Beatrice would like it noted for the record that she is still a ferocious predator. She would enter the little blue and yellow polyester feather-ball cat toy thing in evidence, but she doesn't want to let go of it just yet. She thinks it might still be alive.
While PCs are often meticulous in detecting for magical powers or amazing abilities in whatever gear or gadgets they find, sometimes you can get away with slipping something in unnoticed. If you make it something otherwise forgettable, it helps.
Imagine a magic potion flask. If the PCs detect magic, of course it gives off an aura of magical power, but then they expect that from the potion inside anyway. Nobody suspects the flask itself.
By the way, what do PCs do with the flasks when they drink a magical potion? Has anyone ever asked this question before? The players usually just cross/erase used potions off their equipment lists. Where do the flasks go? Are all dungeons littered with the empty potion flasks of previous adventuring groups, like discarded cans and bottles by the side of the road?
Anyway, make a point of having the PCs find all their empties when they make camp and take stock of their gear. What are they going to do with these empty flasks? If they're like most adventurers, they might try to sell them, or perhaps they'll fill them with holy water or something. Here's where you have the magic of the flask step in. Maybe it always returns to their pack, no matter how they try to get rid of it. Maybe it converts whatever it contains into the same potion that was originally found in it (once per week, say, so it's not overpowered). Maybe it does something else completely, like attract monsters, or prevent any fires from being lit within 30 feet.
Who would suspect a flask?
Essentially, this is classic DWJ, full of witches and wizards, overlapping plots and interlinked multiple universes. Several of the plot threads reminded me of her other books, particularly Fire and Hemlock, but the familiar elements were combined in a different enough order that I didn't feel that was a problem. The main difference between it and the rest of her books is that while some of the central characters are young adults in their late teens/early 20s, most of them are older adults (including one wonderful witch of a certain age who reminded me a lot of Granny Weatherwax). I thought it was great fun, if a bit silly, with engaging characters, and while I don't think it's her best book I rather liked reading a DWJ about adults for once.
Clara was at the Red Barn and asking where to move the horses next. We walked out over most of the available fields and looked at them, talking about what was growing on them and how suitable they were for grazing. Filaree is poking it's little needle like seeds up all over most of the ones by the arena. Clara had never thought of seeds as "grain" before.... Eventually we fenced off the back of the Goat pasture and turned grateful horses into knee deep grass. I thought Clara and her husband were wonderful, they helped untangle some really nasty electric fence rope, and got the temporary fence up in the Goat pasture very efficiently. She also seemed to get the concepts of why we do rotational grazing.
Sunday was another day of work at the St Francis putting in yet another corporate event. JC, M and Donald went to see Into the Woods. I really wanted to see it, but... We all went to dinner at a nice Italian place after the show.
Today I'm at liberty until this evening when my nephew Will and his son have invited us to dinner with them. They are touring through looking at colleges. Gardening, paperwork and some studious reading of a lighting board manual are on my agenda.
[WARNING: It's been far too long since I told you to hide the kids, right? Well, today's the day, peeps. No kids or bosses beyond this point, unless you enjoy awkward conversations. :D]
You know those commercials where you can't figure out what they're trying to sell? Like, okay, there's a woman playing cello in a tree fort - is that a perfume, a drug, a new protein bar, what?
I love those.
Here, lemme try one on you guys - buzz in when you guess it.
[Somber Narrator Voice] Life.
Life can get you down.
The never-ending rat race...
Pressures at home...
Sometimes it feels like you'll just never stack up.
Because now there's Sure Nova!
[peppy music starts up]
Sure Nova will restore your confidence.
Sure Nova makes you stand tall!
Whether you're hard at work:
Or clowning around with the boys:
Sure Nova can give you the life you've always wanted.
Go for the sure thing.
Go for Sure Nova.
Small Print announcer voice: "Sure Nova may cause hair loss, weight gain, and excessively itchy toes. Do not use Sure Nova while driving, swimming, or lactating. Sure Nova is not responsible for your unrequited love triangles. Do not taunt Sure Nova. Improper use of Sure Nova may result in hysteria, mega Youtube hits, and a tie-dyed Fraggle penis.
"Which isn't our fault, either."
"SURE NOVA: Live life, grab life, make life."
Thanks to Robun B., Leigh E., Tharr, Anony M., Amber C., Jodee R., Megan, Dennis K., Erin, Alison, & K.R. for the first intentional wang cake to make me question whether or not it's actually supposed to be a wang. I mean, that could be a fuzzy gavel. Or yarn pom-poms on a tiny thigh-high boot. Or a giant clown nose. All things to keep in mind when your boss asks why there's coffee all over your keyboard. [evil grin]
A NOTE TO ALL before we begin -- I will be traveling next Monday, and I'm not sure of how much access I will have or when I will have it. Radio Free Monday next week miiiiight be postponed to Tuesday. Thanks everyone!
Ways to Give:
Anon linked to a fundraiser for delaese, who is in the process of divorcing, moving, and setting up a new business, and needs funds to help with all three, as well as care for her animals. You can read more and help out here (and also look at fluffy pictures of baby chicks!).
brainwane linked to Con Or Bust, a nonprofit which helps fans of color get to conventions. They're starting up their annual auction fundraiser and would love to have people offer items to donate; you can read more about donating here. Deadline is April 23 so there's still lots of time!
liviconnor linked to Charity: Water, a charity which helps internatioanl communities get clean water, and one of their fundraising methods is to ask people to get donations for their birthdays instead of presents. The birthday person then gets a thank-you gift of pictures from the community their money went to. You can read more and help out here, and you can also donate to them through CharityMiles, which donates money for every mile you run.
Anon is fundraising for Families For Freedom, a human-rights organization by and for families and their loved ones who are facing deportation. They run a national hotline for those imprisoned in immigrant detention centers, and provide emotional and social support to families going through deportation proceedings, as well as raising community awareness of rights and abuses. You can read more and support FFF here.
rilee16 is still struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and hasn't been cleared to return to work, thus can't earn money to cover basic living costs, let alone the bills they've received, including a recent rent increase. They literally have no money left until their next worker's comp check comes, which means no gas money for their car, so they can't get anywhere to do odd jobs for bill money. You can read more and help out here.
Help For Free:
Since I managed to both put it in the wrong place and lose the link last week like a loser, a repost: kitrona is in her last semester of college before graduation, and for her capstone is researching the hypothesis that social support can ease mental health issues that trans* and nonbinary people face. She has a survey up and would appreciate trans* and nonbinary people participating; the survey doesn't collect any identifying information and she is happy to share the resulting paper with people if they're interested. She's planning to specialize in trans* issues, so this is not simply a class project but a foundation for future work in the field. You can take the survey here and please feel free to pass it on to people who could help contribute!
News to Know:
brainwane linked to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has updated its guide to protecting your private data when entering the United States, in response to recent events. You can read more and download the full guide here.
tzikeh is looking for a new roommate to share a 2br/2ba condo in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood, available May 1. You can read more and reblog here or check out the Craigslist post here.
And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.
There were a few problems: I forgot to pack a couple of meds, but Kevin heroically arranged for them to be shipped. The day before I left, my hearing aid company thoughtfully broke the hearing aid for my less dysfunctional ear, and I had to use an old, less good one, so I heard very little. And the airline behaved the way airlines often do (6 hours late, one of our bags shipped to wherever the plane was going next. The airlines warn us to take everything essential because they do that frequently. It reminds me of something Dan Jenkins said about a football player with a bad rep: “Rooming with him ain’t so bad if you don’t mind taking a shower with all your money in your hand.” Then they wonder why we passengers crowd the plane with large carry-ons. Anyway, it worked for us.) And the conference dealt with Epic Fantasy. Nevertheless, I had a good time.
Good parts version: These were some of the good parts.
Bernadette appeared on the program three times: She read some of her poems, then reported on Margaret St. Clair and C.L. Moore as exemplars of women writing horror back in the day, then joined Kevin for a panel on epic fantasy in comics. All excellent, of course.
Edward James was the Scholar GoH and delivered a typically knowledgeable speech.
There was a serious paper on Chuck Tingle.
Andy Duncan, Max Gladstone, Ellen Klages, and Jeffrey Ford did a panel on Humor in the Fantastic. You could tell they knew how to do it even if you hadn’t read them.
Our invasion of the Library of America continues. There will be more volumes of Ursula K. Le Guin, Gary Wolfe is following up his delightful anthology of the best short sf novels of the 50s with a similar one for the 60s, and Lisa Yaszek is doing an anthology of women’s short sf 1870-1970.
Amanda Firestone did a nifty paper on Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.
Like me, Isiah Lavender III thinks that Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist is what we read speculative fiction for, despite its literary respectability.
I’m not even going to try to list all the people I enjoyed hanging out with.
I know what I left out: DELTA Airlines. Always name the malefactors.