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allekha

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Fandom 5k Letter [Feb. 23rd, 2017|04:57 am]
allekha
Fandom 5k LetterCollapse )
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(no subject) [Jan. 7th, 2017|09:09 pm]
allekha
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My sleeping 'schedule' is making no sense again (sigh) but at least it snowed again! It's very pretty.

I'm giving up on Yuri on Ice Week, but at least there's Chocolate Box to look forward to. I never write letters because it seems like too much work, but this time I requested so many YoI relationships that it was very, very hard to fit everything into the AO3 box. (It's here for the curious.) And my brain is still churning out ideas faster than I can write. I have so far restrained myself to two active WiPs and two ideas which needed a bit of research simmering on the backburner.

So far for the new year, I have finished three books - the one on the 'afterlife' of Tutankhamun's mummy (things improved a bit after the initial horrifying 19th century archaeology and it ended with 'science is hard and complicated and doesn't form neat story arcs'), one on prion diseases called The Family that Couldn't Sleep, and Island of the Blue Dolphins which I picked up for a dollar at a local used-book store.

I really liked that last one - it's a fictional story of an Amerindian girl who gets stuck on an island by herself for 18 years, based on the real story of a real woman who was really stranded on a real island. While I think there are a couple of pacing issues (you can kind of see the part where the author got stuck on how many things could happen to the girl in 18 years and started speeding the passing of time up), it was engaging enough to keep me from going to bed like I intended until I finished the whole thing. That, and it's middle grade fiction, I didn't think it would take as long to read as it did!

The descriptions of the island were very lovely, and while in some sense it's a survival story (which, I guess, I like - between this book and the one about the family in the Taiga and The Long Winter being possibly my favorite Little House book and the hundreds of hours I sank into Lost in Blue) I appreciated how lot of it is about surviving loneliness and boredom as much as scraping together food and not dying of infection. There are several parts where the girl just mentions that she went and gathered a bunch of abalone or whatever and then skips into a story of exploring sea-caves or so on.

I did look at some reviews after I read it and someone said that they hated it for being too idyllic, which I found confusing. Sure, she never really seems in danger of starving, but that makes sense given that she's on abundant island and only feeding herself and sometimes her pets. She describes being very cold in winter, and nearly dies from a leg infection. She hides in a cave for weeks when the same group of people that killed much of her tribe return to the island. She makes friends with animals easily enough, but has to fend off wild dogs and almost gets injured by a fighting pair of elephant seals. She doesn't die at the end, and the story is mostly positive, but I thought it seemed pretty realistic.

(A more depressing thought was of how this book came out in 1960 and it has a better-written woman as the main character than several films I've seen in the past few years. She's resourceful but overly proud at points, very clever and good with animals but still nearly gets herself killed a few times - hell, the book even passes the Bechdel test despite the fact that she spends 95% of the book without other humans around.)

Kind of want to write a crossover between the book and Moana now, though the geography would have to be fudged a bit and I'm not sure what the actual plot would be - I just like the idea of the main character meeting Moana, I think they would get along well.
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Chocolate Box Letter [Jan. 7th, 2017|05:54 am]
allekha
Chocolate Box LetterCollapse )
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End of year writing meme, 2016 edition [Dec. 31st, 2016|02:11 pm]
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Writing about writing takes lots of writingCollapse )
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(no subject) [Dec. 30th, 2016|10:03 pm]
allekha
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I posted another YoI fic, which brings me up to an even 20 stories posted for the year, if you count the anthropomorfic I did at the start of the year (which I do, because round numbers) \o/ I'm actually still a bit unsure about the story, but I already added 1.5k in editing it and I'm tired of staring at it and going 'is this too much about spirit lady? did I write Victor correctly?' so up it goes. At this point I'm just glad that I was able to write it a summary.

(Speaking of YoI, my skate track CD arrived on Tuesday morning. Guess what's been playing on repeat since then.)

There was this book about medical mysteries I really wanted to borrow, but despite having access to three different library systems on Overdrive, none of them had it; I guess I'll have to go borrow it in person when the library opens again and finish it before I go back to my apartment. Instead, I borrowed something else on my to-read list, a book about the discovery of Tutankhamen's mummy and what happened to it afterwards, prompted by the author's noticing of critical letters to the editor in a journal about an article about Tut's medical issues disputing pretty much everything. So far, the book has been interesting, though do not read if bad 19th-century archaeology makes you cringe too hard (ahhhh take photos before you drag the mummies out ahhhh stop taking everything to humid climates ahhhh stop ruining everything). This improves by the time they start excavating Tut's tomb.

Today, I met with my friend B and we went out for ramen (though this time they charged me $1 extra for half an egg instead of giving me the whole egg that was supposed to come with mine because I got the vegetarian version >( ). He told me about his adventures in being a new teacher and when we came back, he introduced me to Death Parade and I introduced him to Yuri on Ice. After he left, my parents and I went to buy mead and taste champagne at a local wine shop; turns out I still do not like champagne and will try to avoid at the party I'm going to tomorrow. We had dinner at a place we had never been to before, which is seafood-themed but had several vegetarian dishes, and I can't remember having better lasagna. All in all, a good day.

A few days ago, we had stupidly warm weather (~60F/15C) and I took advantage with a long walk in the woods in the nearby park. I went off the path and down to the little creek that runs through and just had fun finding places to cross by standing on rocks, jumping from sandbar to sandbar, walking on logs... it was very soothing to me. Very much like home. I have so many memories of playing in the woods and the creeks, often on my own, when I was a kid. Near my apartment, there's a place with a waterfall that turns into a river that goes through the trees. It's not the same - the banks are much steeper, the river is wider, there are no wild roses - but I should go down there more often when it warms up and see how it feels clambering around on the rocks. If nothing else, I've found I like sitting and reading by the waterfall.
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メリー・クリスマス [Dec. 25th, 2016|08:52 pm]
allekha
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Merry Christmas to all of those who celebrate it! (And if you don't, I hope you enjoy any other winter holidays you may celebrate.)

My family had a good, quiet time - it was just the three of us, and we put on the Nutcracker music while we opened presents. Some were practical (my mom got a new pot; my parents got me a chargeable handwarmer) and others not so much. There was a lot of chocolate. So, so much chocolate. On top of the Christmas cake, too (a new tradition ever since my mom and I had one when we spent Christmas in Japan). My dad received three books - The Undoing Project from me and Euclid's Elements and the new translation of Principia Mathematica from my mom, so a bit of light winter reading. I got the Avatar: the Last Airbender coloring book and a set of colored pencils to try out on it :D Plus another Japanese vegetarian cookbook.

My mom had told me to get a clock for them since the one in the kitchen had stopped working, and apparently she told my dad the same thing, so now we have a practical clock in the kitchen, and a decorative one sitting in his office waiting for us to find it the right spot. It has golden ratio spirals in the background and complex equations for each number, so it's a biiiit harder to read than the normal clock. Though it's much more interesting to look at.

Dinner was nice, eggs on toast and fruit salad and of course the Christmas cake, paired with raspberry-honey mead I brought with me. I started buying mead on a lark because I wanted to know how it tasted, but it turns out I like it and my mom just declared that she likes it more than wine, haha. And we Googled and found out that there's a local meadery twenty minutes away! They're only open three days a week; I wonder if they sell anywhere else in the state.

Z went and got me the whole (!?!) hardcover set of Avatar comics that are out so far, so, wow. <3 He also wrote a very nice note on the back of a Pathfinder character sheet for Yuuri <3 <3 Must find a way to integrate that into a game.

Speaking of Z, he made it safely back home. While he was here, we had a good time going around the area and eating local ice cream. I gave him a full tour of the campus here (much bigger than the one where we're studying) and we had a nice walk at my second-favorite park. And yesterday especially we worked on our Yuri on Ice cosplays - sanding and painting our experimental silver crystals for his costume and continuing adventures in dyeing fabric. We wanted the fabric under the mesh on Yuuri's costume to fit his skintone as well as possible and it was way too light; after putting a little dye in at a time, on our third try we dumped the entire rest of the bottle in and gave it an extra fifteen minutes, which did the trick. And now I have a dye pot! I've wanted to try dyeing fabric for forever.

I uncurled the wig I got for young!Victor yesterday (couldn't find a bangless straight one in the right color), which, for future reference, took just under two and a half hours and lead to sore hand muscles. It somehow feels even softer now - I love the wigs from this company - and as someone who had never so much as touched a hair straightener before (I have long hair, so I need to avoid damaging it), it amazes me that people actually use them on their hair. I was dampening down each section before straightening it and the straightener - on its lowest setting - was hot enough to turn the water into vapor. Yikes. No wonder it damages hair. Today I also used the straightener to undo the part and pull all of the hair back. It's now ready to style, which I'll do whenever the fake roses I ordered get here and I've made them into the crown.

The weather was nice today - relatively warm and sunny - though I slept through my chance to go for a run. Oh, well. I'll do some exercises tonight instead, and then try to get writing done now that I have the time.
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Yuri on Ice~! [Dec. 22nd, 2016|06:41 am]
allekha
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It's 6am, I can't get back to sleep, and nobody else is up. The perfect time to rewatch the Yuri on Ice finale and write about it. Hopefully it came out coherent. I wish I had time to engage more with the fandom right now - I have no idea what anyone else thinks of this episode yet - but that's not going to happen until Z goes home in a couple of days. I'm too busy enjoying his company right now.
Spoilers, spoilers, spoilersCollapse )
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(no subject) [Dec. 21st, 2016|11:14 am]
allekha
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[Current Mood |excitedexcited]

I am home! For once, instead of taking a train or bus, Z and I roadtripped down and he's going to stay for a couple of days until going home for Christmas. To be honest I probably would have preferred the train in terms of comfort (I don't like spending time in cars, and it was a six hour drive) but we did start listening to a new podcast, which I liked.

There's not a lot of exciting stuff to do around here, but he'll finally get to see all the things I compare the town we live in against. Like the library, with actual space between the shelves and real numbers of books. And the ice cream made from the milk of cows on campus by students. We're also going to go out to some of the more tourist-y places, too. Also, we're going to watch the Yuri on Ice finale in a few hours together and probably work on our cosplays, so we'll have some fun.

Z also beta'd that Phichit & Yuuri mostly in Detroit fic for me this morning (it's always interesting to see people react to your writing in real time, if a bit awkward to sit there while they read it) so I was able to post it before the finale \o/ Also, geez it's been a long time since I've been in a very active fandom and wow, the number of hits things get.
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Life and poetry-love [Dec. 19th, 2016|08:22 am]
allekha
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It got colder again toward the end of last week; I'd planned to go for a run on Thursday, but it started snowing by the time I'd finished lunch and I didn't fancy going out and falling on the slippery asphalt. I did go for a long walk, though; I listened to a podcast while strolling around in the park and playing Pokemon Go, even sat on the swings for a few minutes. I had the whole place to myself for almost the entire time, with the snow falling more and less gently and a fog rolling in when I reached the crest of the hill, where you can see the city and the river below, and out into the mountains.

Then I came back, wrote some fanfic, and woke up to find that my hot water had frozen despite having set my faucets to drip overnight. My landlord couldn't fix it until the next morning, which worked out okay, and it snowed again. The CCSF finished up, and I think it came off rather well for the most part except for a few bumps in the road. For one thing, the scavenger hunt seems to have been too hard - probably going to extend the deadline a couple of days and clarify some things to make it easier. And I still have to code the prizes, which will be more or less easy depending on how complicated I decide to make them. I have a tendency to err on the side of 'does more stuff'....

Anyway, I got my hot water back, and Z and I re-watched Mulan, and I've been writing, so all in all, a good weekend.

I finished up the gen Phichit & Yuuri in Detroit fic, so that's been sat on the backburner for a couple of days and now I need to edit it. (I'd kind of like to get a beta for it, but after all these years in fandom, I still have no idea how you get a beta you don't already know in real life. Besides 'ask on FFA and hope someone answers'?) The other thing I've been working on wasn't even on my list; I just couldn't get over Yuuri's expression and pose in that scene where JJ is imagining the other skaters towering over him, so now I'm halfway through JJ dreaming about eros!Yuuri seducing him before the final. Brain, what.

As for non-YoI anime, I haven't been watching much this season, but I just finished episode 11 of the 2012 anime Uta Koi. I started watching it because I love the Heian period and it's a loose adaptation of the lives of Heian poets, but past episode 6 I've become fond of it on its own merits. Episode 6 was an incredibly silly and hilarious filler episode, and from then on the stories have somehow been more enticing to me. I think the poetry might be getting more to my tastes, perhaps that's it.

While I do have a couple of criticisms of it (why do all of the ladies have their eyebrows so low?! must they be attractive to modern audiences?), the show does a good job of portraying the isolation and lack of freedom the women of the age had - but that doesn't mean they didn't have agency. Sei Shounagon appears in three episodes and despite her outspokenness, still finds love - and not just once. She has two different loves in the series, and then at the end she moves on and may yet love again.

Episode 11 hit me especially because it addressed one of my problems with the series: all heterosexuality all the time. As the number of relationships in a series goes up, given a lack of homophobia that could explain their absence, the less and less I can suspend my disbelief if nobody is in a same-sex relationship. And as far as we can tell, Heian Japan didn't have a problem with same-sex relationships per se (the court sure had a lot of rules about relationships in general).

So, in this episode, Murasaki Shikibu shows up. Now, keep in mind I've read The Tale of Murasaki, in which she has relationships with women, and even written Murasaki/other Heian lady. (They used the language of love poetry while writing to each other. I would love to know where some western authors writing on the subject got the idea that this was 'normal between platonic friends. Super platonic. Not romantic AT ALL even though they're comparing themselves to ducks that mate for life and talking about how charming their faces are when uncovering them at night. Friendship!!!') The episode summary is about her and another girl being childhood friends. I'm prepared to be disappointed.

I'm not. The language is as direct as it gets for the other couples: Murasaki and her friend Kaoriko continuously praise each other as children - Kaoriko praises Murasaki for her unwomanly intelligence and her writing, and Murasaki praises Kaoriko for her strength of body and character. When they're older and Kaoriko is about to get married for the sake of her family, Murasaki thinks 'I really love you', and then they cuddle while clasping hands and lamenting that Murasaki isn't a man so they can get married to each other.

After they have been parted for a long time, Murasaki finally sees Kaoriko again, but only briefly and from behind, then writes her a letter. Kaoriko, who used to have a lively spirit, is struggling with raising her children and feels like she can't face Murasaki when she's become obedient to her husband, and doesn't reply. However, Murasaki, who has been struggling through the episode with writer's block and with what kind of story she wants The Tale of Genji to be, decides that she is going to make it a story about the strength of women, remembering how Kaoriko loved her writing so much, and manages to write the next chapter. Though she misses Kaoriko, she hopes that she will see the story Murasaki has written and see the message of strength she has put into it.

It was just - a lovely story mixing fiction with fact, about the relationships and power women could find when the first thing you read about them in this period is about how isolated they were, sometimes from even the gardens outside their rooms. And the premier woman author of Japan, not only being in love with another woman, but being inspired by her for and dedicating to her the famous Tale of Genji, though it's about a man who primarily pursues woman. This is treated just like the other love stories - tragic, perhaps, in their long parting, but no more so than most of the others. (For example, one man has to abandon a woman after she is arranged to someone else, though they both wish she wasn't; another chooses to let the woman he loves go in order to allow her to choose a career in the palace, which is her dream.)

...hm, while I'm home for Christmas, I should re-start my read-through of Genji. I never finished it the first time, and I'm sure I've forgotten all I did read.
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Yuuri on Ice! [Dec. 15th, 2016|12:22 am]
allekha
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I spent pretty much all day today working on my final project for my R class, which... I am not very happy with, but as long as I at least get 50%, I should still get an A, assuming I did as well as I think I did on the last exam. The main problem was the goddamn string manipulation from my dataset. Never again, R. Never, ever ever ever again. If I have to manipulate strings to get my data computer-readable and for some reason I want to use R? That's going through Python first. I seriously spent longer on making my dates into numbers the program would like than actually doing statistics. (Oh, and the csv didn't read empty values properly which fucked up my one attempt at doing a learning and prediction thing, woo. If I fixed that then my graphs didn't get proper labels. I ran out of time and prioritized readable graphs, and commented out the prediction thing with an apology and short explanation.)

Enough of that. The CCSF is chugging along - the logic puzzle I put together seems to be going over well - the semester is basically over except that I need to email my advisor about some things, and today was Yuri on Ice day!
Spoilers belowCollapse )
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Yuri!!! on ice!!!!!! [Dec. 8th, 2016|05:00 am]
allekha
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[Current Mood |ecstaticecstatic]

SO THAT WAS AN EPISODE.

I wanted to re-watch it right away, but unfortunately I had to do school stuff and attend a meeting and then I dropped of exhaustion as soon as I came home at 7pm but NOW I can experience this joy of an episode again :D

Spoilers, ho!Collapse )
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Thanksgiving + Yuri on Ice [Dec. 1st, 2016|07:35 am]
allekha
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Thanksgiving break went well. My parents and I had a good lunch/dinner; I made pumpkin pie from scratch for the first time, and the recipe turned out better than the storebought we usually get, I think. The only thing that did not go well was the whole wheat rolls, which we made because my mom couldn't find anything in the stores she liked. According to the recipe, we baked them in the muffin tin, and... well, we had muffin-shaped bread rolls. They only tasted so-so, too.

I was there until Monday morning due to the train schedule, so over the weekend, my dad and I went to a local secondhand bookshop and picked up books. I managed to get three from my to-read list. And my mom and I went to a frozen custard place that just opened to have custard for breakfast - she had just read about a study by a Japanese researcher that showed that people who had ice cream for breakfast did better on cognitive tasks than either people who had no ice cream for breakfast or who drank cold water instead of eating ice cream, so we joked about that on the way there and afterward.

Also, I had mentioned that I really loved this new figure skating anime to my mom, so she wanted to watch it, and then my dad came in early on in episode three, and they liked it so much that we mainlined the whole thing and then watched episode eight while it was simulcasting. And then on Sunday, we ended up watching some real figure skating.

I had a bit of an odd experience in that I got into a (long) political discussion with my dad at one point, which went rather well even though we're not exactly on the same page. It was a real discussion, not an argument like you usually hear about happening on Thanksgiving. He's a third party member and his viewpoint is that a government strong enough to protect you is strong enough to persecute you, and I understand his beliefs better now even if I don't agree with all or even many of them.

(There was one point were I burst into tears when we got to talking about Pence and I did have to explain to him that when I was crying and talking about how my friends have experienced hate crimes and it's still legal in too many places to send your kid to psychological torture if they are gay or have gender issues, what I wanted was not to hear how the other side was bad too, but to get a goddamn hug. Then he gave me a hug. He is ultimately a compassionate and caring person, but for various reasons his emotional IQ is kind of lacking.)

Getting back was exhausting (local train + Amtrak 1 + two hour layover + Amtrak 2) and took nine hours. Usually it takes six. Thankfully I managed to snag a taxi with some other people going the same way instead of having to pay twice as much. Taking two buses back and then trudging up a hill to get home was not something I wanted to consider even if it would be free.

My co-host and I ended up deciding to delay the Creatures Community Spirit Festival due to lack of submission, which was a bit frustrating and last-minute, but should hopefully work out for the better. Now it's happening during finals, but I'm actually probably busier this week than I will be that week (thanks, multiple programming homeworks). And I might have time to put another thing or two together. At least the associated blog carnival is still going this week, and that's worked out well; everyone has interesting thoughts to read and has posted every day so far.

YoI Episode 9 spoilers under hereCollapse )
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離れずそばにいて [Nov. 17th, 2016|07:38 am]
allekha
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Yuuri on Ice!!! Episode 7!!!Collapse )
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(no subject) [Nov. 14th, 2016|12:28 am]
allekha
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It's nice to be back after being gone for so long. (Long story short: my computer became unusable due to power issues, then was held captive by tech support for almost two months, after which it still wasn't fixed because they couldn't be bothered to ship the right part from California, so I then had to take it to a local place and spend my own money to get the power jack replaced.)

We had our first snowfall near the end of October. I wonder if we'll have a proper winter this year.

Happy, mostly fannish stuff under this cutCollapse )

Elections-related stuff under this cutCollapse )
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(no subject) [Nov. 9th, 2016|04:04 am]
allekha
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What in the goddamned fucking hell, America?

I was so excited this morning. I happily went to cast my ballot. I started to mentally write something cheerful about America and doing good and maybe being a little proud of my country for the first time since June last year.

Instead, I ended up breaking down at one in the morning after managing to prevent several panic attacks. I called by mom and just lost it. She tried to reassure me about how it's not the end of the world, and I know intellectually that that's probably true; I don't want to think about that right now. I don't want to think. I don't even want to get angry. Angry can wait until tomorrow, until I've slept.

I'm just in total disbelief. I thought the people here could be better than this. I thought all the statisticians and polling data couldn't be that wrong. The world makes no sense to me right now.

It's four am and I can't sleep. I've moved past horrified into numbness but I can't settle. I'm going to listen to something happy and draw, maybe do some writing, maybe study Japanese. And get something hot to drink.

I hope everyone is holding up okay, given the circumstances.
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Con.txt 2016 [Aug. 3rd, 2016|10:39 pm]
allekha
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It's been a while since I wrote anything here. I kept wanting to get back into the habit, but... it didn't feel right to do so without mentioning Starlight, and I didn't want to.

Starlight was my childhood cat. I can still remember the day we brought her home from the shelter, such a small kitten who grew large and pudgy. She liked being held but only occasionally being in a lap, and she liked strangers, and even if she was lazy, she was better at mousing than Aki has been.

A few months ago, my parents had to put her down. She was kind of sick for a while. She was nearly fourteen. But it was still unexpected for me to get a call when I was at a friend's place and hear that she was gone. I didn't want to ruin the fun for everyone else, so I didn't say anything and waited until I got back to my apartment to be upset.

It hit me harder when I got home, because she wasn't around to pick up and cuddle. There's just flowers from the vet sitting in a favorite sunroom sleeping spot. And Aki is terrified of strangers, and even when I've been here for a few days she won't let me get very close. It's strange to be here and not have a cat I can pet and who will let me pick her up and who will come beg me for food. And who is a little grumpy and arthritic and lazy but will play if you give her a catnip mouse.

...anyway, I went to Con.txt last weekend (hi, new people!) and wrote a con log up, so I felt like I finally had to post something.

Con.txt 2016 convention report hereCollapse )
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(no subject) [Mar. 15th, 2016|11:30 pm]
allekha
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Today I saw Zootopia! It was... better than I expected? It's surprisingly smart for a kid's movie; the anvils are heavy and dropped very often (discrimination is bad!) but the discrimination in the film maps to different groups in different ways and at various points in the film - there's racism, of course, but also sexism, the fear of a minority by the majority, how people who have experienced discrimination can say thoughtless things themselves, etc. Plus, the humor and the animation were pretty good; we both particularly liked how technology was integrated into the film (Judy using her phone as a flashlight or to film suspects, etc).

Oh, and I started a fantumblog for my favorite obscure game, Betrayal in Antara. It has a grand total of one follower so far \o/ I'll be happy even if it doesn't pick up any more, since this is a project as much for myself as anything. Even if I still don't understand how Tumblr works (why are some of my images resized but others not...?). Which reminds me, I really need to finish Betrayal at Krondor, which means grabbing the save files off my old computer....

Spring has definitely sprung here, in terms of the weather if not the plant life, and just in time for spring break! Tomorrow, since it's supposed to be a bit warmer, I think I'll go hike down to that waterfall that's supposed to be nearby, maybe bring some of that pie I made for Pi(e) day, read a book or work on alife stuff.
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(no subject) [Mar. 4th, 2016|04:24 pm]
allekha
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...and I fell off with keeping up with DW AGAIN because life, why. The summary: I got sick. Then I got a stomach virus and was useless and miserable for three days, when I was already scrambling to catch up on a class that I added late. Things have mostly evened out again, although this week was so busy - I got pulled in to a group Skyrim bards cosplay for the local con this weekend, and apparently I was the only one with much knowledge of sewing? At least I had help for making the costumes, mostly in doing the hems (and thank the gods for that, hems are the worst), but that took a lot of hours. We practiced the songs while we worked :D

One of my classes is about ontologies. I found the concept of an ontology really hard to understand, but I think I have now grokked it. (An ontology is basically a formal definition of a set of concepts, their attributes, and how they relate to each other. Kind of like a class definition, if you're a programmer.) They're a component of the 'semantic web' that my group keeps having talks about, and the term gets thrown around a lot, so it's nice to know what people are talking about now. My partner and I are making a tea ontology so we can make an application that offers suggestions for how to blend teas!

In-between all of the programming and homework I spoiled myself with a couple of books. From the local library. Even though I told myself I wouldn't get a card until I finished reading the books I own. ...but they were really interesting!

The first is Lost in the Taiga. It's about a family of fundamentalist Russian Old Believers who fled from religious persecution into the Siberian taiga, and lived in isolation for decades before being rediscovered by a team of geologists. The book is about their lives both before and after discovery, though the focus is on the two family members the author repeatedly met with (the others having died).

There's a lot of details about how they survived the incredibly harsh conditions, and it was interesting to read about what aspects of modern life intrigued them or that they found strange. These weren't always as obvious as one might think; the daughter of the family took a few airplane trips and was more fascinated with trains and indoor toilets. She still lives out in the taiga today - she claims the air in places closer to civilization (even quite rural places with other Old Believers) makes her sick, and she doesn't appear to care so much about the danger.

One thing I liked about this book is that this family receives assistance and gifts from people many times, and they also would give visitors and the geologists at the camp presents of potatoes and pine nuts. It's actually quite heartwarming to see how so many people went out of their way to help this odd little family who had restrictive beliefs (not using matches, not eating many foods, etc). I don't have any complaints about the book; I saw that some reviews criticized the translation (it was originally in Russian), but I thought it was fine - not sure if there's different editions out there or if I'm just too used to shitty translations or?

The other book I finished was Vitamania. In terms of advice, it probably doesn't contain anything anyone hasn't heard - eat fruits and vegetables, don't take megadoses of vitamins or minerals, supplements are unregulated scams wastes of money. Well, I did learn that cooking with oil makes some vegetables more nutritious. But anyway, it's not an advice book.

It's really a history of vitamin deficiency diseases and vitamin discovery, followed by Americans' relationship with vitamins and their regulation. I was shocked to discover why it is that the FDA doesn't regulate supplements - it's because they can't, because Congress told them not to, because they were inundated with two million letters of protests, because supplement sellers lied to customers and made it about FREEDOM OF CHOICE and how the government was going to BAN YOUR HERBAL TEA (they weren't), and so on. There were parts where I had to skim because I was so angry. There's also a lot in there about how supplements have horrible dosing, make spurious health claims that they can't prove, probably aren't even what's on the label, etc etc etc. The last bit is essentially about how little we know of nutrition and the questions scientists are still pursuing.

Very interesting book, if a bit rage-inducing. The author belabors her point too much - yes, we get it, Americans eat too much processed food and unquestioningly associate vitamins with health and only get enough vitamins because of enrichment and fortification only made possible by foreign companies. But, it seems well-researched (there's lots of citations in the back) and it was easy to get through, so do recommend.
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End of Year Writing Meme, 2015 edition [Jan. 10th, 2016|05:18 am]
allekha
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For some amusement and reflection.
Cut for lots of linesCollapse )
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Happy 2016 [Jan. 10th, 2016|04:47 am]
allekha
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So I decided to take a break from some sites, including DW, for NaNoWriMo (especially since I had grad-school-related things to do as well) and got caught in the habit of not checking them at all because I felt like I had to read all of the things I missed. Or something. Brain, it doesn't have to work that way.

Anyway, NaNo worked out okay, even though I got very distracted by Fallout 4. I have a few complaints, some of which were easily fixed by mods, but overall I've had a lot of fun running around the wasteland with cute robots. And grad school programming has been... okay? I got kind of discouraged about my project for a bit, but now I'm back to working on it. It would be nice to have documentation, though. Or, like, feedback. No-one's been communicating about this thing since school let out. And Ubuntu won't connect to the internet here even though it was fine with my apartment's wifi. So slightly less than okay, actually.

I'm still visiting at home. I'd meant to go back earlier, but I have a minor dental problem that I might as well have fixed down here, and a friend who is going to a conference in DC invited me to come help keep her company for a couple of days. It's been nice seeing my parents and friends again. Though I am looking forward to watching anime and making food and adventuring with my new friend Z. I just hope that when I go back there will be snow on the ground already. This winter has been too warm!

I am starting to get concerned about my sleep schedule repeatedly failing to be a schedule. Should try to work on that; hopefully it's not a medical issue, though given my parents, I'm worried it might be.

The last book I read in 2015 was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the book that inspired Blade Runner. It was okay, but I think this is one of those cases where the adaptation is better than the original. The book has some interesting parts, but also some that I didn't understand at all, and overall I felt like I might have liked it better if I read it with a book club or English class. And if there was better treatment of the female characters. It's been a while since I saw Blade Runner, but from what I remember, it really pushed the 'what measure is a non-human' thing more than the book did, without having confusing religious dream? sequences. Granted, both of them - and the movie Ex Machina - got me kind of annoyed by the definition of humanity (and with it 'beings worthy of basic respect') involving empathy or emotions, but that could be a whole rant on its own.
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