Frtnj I was reading an article about a recall of a baby gate known to fall down when repeatedly tugged on by babies. Top comment was some mouthbreather like, “I think this ‘culture of safety’ has gone too far. By this logic they should also recall large bookcases.”

I know you’re not meant to read the comments, but this is practically unbelievable. They’re now applying the concept of pc police to babyproofing?!

The difference, Pekka, is that those bookcases are not specifically FOR BABIES, and unlike the baby gate in question, they all come with a safety warning telling you to anchor them to the wall with screws.

Somebody give this guy a very heavy bookcase before he votes Perussuomalaiset again.

#never read the comments
The only other tv I've rewatched as many times as an adult is Poirot - with Star Trek it's considerably more for a very few episodes but once only for others (much more variable quality for Star Trek than Poirot - though the latter also had quite a collection of different writers, directors, and producers, and even switched owners midway through its 25-year run). It feels to me like even the best episodes of Star Trek are pulpy enough to hover around the worst episodes of Poirot for rewatchability, even though as bad examples of their genre the worst Poirots are definitely worse in absolute terms than the BEST Star Treks - it's just the genre and register and how my brain works I guess.

Actually, I think murder mysteries in written form are also maybe easier to read casually, with more skimming and less engagement, than science fiction adventures? As I think about it, my mom uses both mysteries and paperback romances in this way - as palate cleansers between science fiction and fantasy books, or for when she doesn't have the brainpower/attention span for serious engagement. So maybe I just copied it from her, but it really feels easier.

I suppose that reality tv also allows for that lower level of engagement, but most of the reality tv I've tried to watch has ended up putting me off for one reason or another. I still watch new seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race, although not right away, and I think the reason I've never got fed up with it as with Project Runway for example (aside from the lack of a sudden disastrous drop in quality...) has to do with how it's so camp and upfront about the amount of gimmicks involved. But it's still got a high level of hystrionic interpersonal drama for my taste (obviously, this is a draw rather than a deterrent for many people, so it's not like I censure it for this). And I think that ultimately, the whole contest aspect to a lot of reality tv puts me off: feeling bad for the losers and disliking the things producers do to try to make you like and dislike people.

Instead of that, This Old House is really a documentary and basically only shows skilled craftsmen and experts in their fields at work, doing the various things they do and explaining them as they go. I also am more interested in the care and fixing of old buildings, mechanical systems, woodwork, etc., than I am in most of the subjects of these other reality shows. A lot of house-related shows that I used to see in the US on HGTV and its forebears wasted too much time on human interest (I hate human interest as a genre: it always seems to make me way less interested in humanity in general) and featured some guy yelling in front of a bulldozer about how big things are or how extreme something is, while This Old House shows closeups of people using tools and explains what they're doing well enough that, in many cases, someone could follow their instruction to do it themselves (provided some experience with the tools and general area in question, like carpentry or masonry or plumbing, all areas that my mom, for instance, or my aunts and uncles, have experience with, even if I don't).

Another thing I hate on a lot of house-related shows are the interior design bits - I love interiors but I hate the buzzwords and jargon (a common thing to make [personal profile] waxjism laugh around here is me yelling "RARGH, INTERIOR-DESIGN-SPEAK!!!") and also the over-designed results that a lot of professional interior designers on tv and in magazines seem to produce. This Old House does work with designers (and owners) with taste I don't like, but at least it's not too often, and only occupies a small part of the screentime for each project. (It helps that the host isn't an industry professional and is always there as the audience surrogate, and his attempts to sound polite and excited when I can tell he actually hates something are also a thing of beauty.)

One thing that is amusing and somewhat annoying is that the way reality tv works to create narratives that mimic fiction causes my brain to read it like fiction and start shipping people and sometimes lie awake sternly trying to talk my brain into investing its shipping energy in something with an actual fandom so I'll have something to read.
Even though Agatha Christie's Poirot is perhaps my favorite tv show (in terms of rewatches, screencaps, etc), I am not actually a tremendous Christie fan. I've read quite a few Marples and Poirots after having seen them: sometimes well worth it (Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express, Five Little Pigs, Hickory Dickory Death, The Clocks, The Body in the Library, A Caribbean Mystery, At Bertram's Hotel), sometimes a letdown (I can't remember which these were offhand because I got bored and quit). However, after hearing they were going to make a movie of And Then There Were None (original title and second title both horrifically racist), I went and read it, and since then I've read two other non-Marple-Poirot (Maroit? Poirple?) books.

First I tried The Man in the Brown Suit (1924), a Colonel Race novel set mainly in South Africa and dealing extensively with diamond trade, so I was cringing to a greater or lesser degree most of the way through. Aside from this aspect, it's a spy novel instead of a mystery, with a distinctly lighter-hearted air and a strong humorous note. The heroine is a pretty great character, aside from being tainted with some of Agatha Christie's patented Old and Also Just Plain Gross Gender Issues.

Then last week I stumbled on The Secret of Chimneys (1925), a Superintendent Battle novel, which starts in South Africa but takes place mainly in Britain, but manages to be offensively monarchist and racist against four or five ethnic groups I could name in spite of all the characters being white, and particularly offensive about the Balkans. A really special flavor of offensive, all in all, and manages to also have a delightful rollicking air, a couple of great characters and a stellar heroine who actually explicitly debunks some sexism from dudes WHILE ALSO reinforcing more of Christie's Awkward, Weird Gender Issues.

I suppose perhaps whenever there's a Christie whose title I HAVEN'T heard a lot of, it's probably for one of these embarrassing sorts of reasons.
Hating to make phonecalls makes it extra awkward, of course, but eventually I called the card cancelling service, the regional lost and found (they didn't have it), and the social security agency for a replacement card. Then I registered my ID and SS card lost with the police's online form in case of identity theft.

That left:

  • Grocery store membership card. This took me and [personal profile] waxjism BOTH over an hour last week attempting to figure out how to request a new one.

  • Other bonus cards, infrequently used: you don't actually need them; you can just give your name at the register. Less plastic to carry around and hunt for in the wallet: sounds good to me.

  • Replacement ID card: Unlike in the past, when you had to print or pick up the paper forms, fill them out, and bring them with exact change in cash and physical copies of approved ID photos to the police in person, you can do most of this online now. You fill out the forms electronically and pay with a direct bank transfer, and the photographer emails the photos directly to the police, but you still have to go to the photographer in person (to take the pictures) and the police in person (to give your signature), so I haven't actually got around to this yet. (I also am trying to get [personal profile] waxjism to replace her 20-year-old oversized driver's licence which doesn't fit in her wallet without stretching the zipper out of shape in the same trip but this requires dragging her around on her day off). On the plus side though, you can also make an electronic reservation for a timeslot at the police station to do your paperwork, so you don't have to go there and sit in the waiting room for several hours (it's happened before).

  • (Because of this dawdling, though, I had to take my passport to the post office to sign for a registered package the other day, haha.)

  • The raw food handling certification: I don't have an immediate plan to apply for work in a kitchen so this isn't exactly URGENT, which is good because it requires me to cold-text a total stranger. I'm working up to it by putting it in my calendar with an alarm repeatedly, so that when the alarm sounds and I cancel it and re-set it for a later date ("I don't have the mental integrity for this today") I feel a little prick of guilt.

I also finally have permanent residency status in Finland!

The physical permit expires in 5 years, but the right to reside does not require new applications any longer.

I should have received this after four uninterrupted years' residence as a family member (I only acquired family member status after living here on a student visa 3 years, because that's what same-sex couples had to do - cohabit 3 years - in order to acquire the right to Finnish registered partnership and the common law partnership status. Gender-neutral marriage passed here recently, but to my knowledge the laws haven't been implemented, so this may still be the case.) So that meant 4(spouse)+3(student)=7 years after I moved here, but I hadn't adopted electronic calendars yet at the previous permit renewal, which was THREE YEARS before the final Permanent Resident Status would have kicked in... and my application was a month late, which meant I was no longer eligible, and got sent back for four more years of waiting (and another hefty processing fee). That penalty period ended last November, and I got a fancy new Resident Card yesterday!

The police have been downsized, though, and effective at the new year, foreign national permits are no longer processed in Turku. All of them for the southwest region of Finland have been concentrated in our suburb, Raisio, the one that's 20 minutes by car and where our Ikea is located (that means that a bunch of offices were closed besides the Turku one). Meanwhile, Raisio's permit-processing offices (they used to do IDs and many types of licences) have also been closed, and Raisio residents who are natural Finns have to come to Turku for their permit needs. That all happened over the new year, and I'd never been to downtown Raisio before. It took two bus rides and then wading through four parking lots in calf-high snow. I discovered they only have one service window open there, next to about six shuttered ones in their lobby (Alien Affairs in Turku usually had 2 or 3). Luckily the lines were not long yet, so I didn't have to wait long before making another two bus trips and a lot of frantic snow-wading to get back home with my toes numb (it was -15°).

In relation to the downsizing, I asked the desk worker, "So before the 5 years are up I have to come back?" and she laughed,

"Well, who knows what the permit will look like or who will be processing it in five years! We might not even have a police office!" Touché, desk worker, touché.
When casual chatting about livestock leads to google leads to random forums where some people are like:

"OH if you're so in favor of responsible livestock breeding practices and 'not risking animals' lives with high probability of deadly pregnancies and stillbirths', then how would YOU feel if someone FORCE STERILIZED you and maybe YOUUUUU should post some pictures of YOUUUUUR family health history for us to mock, Ms. High-and-Mighty 'I Know What Genetics Is'!"

We've encountered this kind of anger twice today, once in the context of horses with genetic skeletal faults and once in the context of Dexter cattle, a heritage breed with a dangerous dwarfism trait.

It gives a whole new context to the phrase "some people shouldn't be allowed to breed", which I never thought I'd have a response to other than "kill it with fire"; but it turns out all you have to do is add "livestock, if they can't be bothered with Punnett squares*".

I honestly never thought I'd be getting enthusiastic about cattle breeds and sheeps' hooves, but I guess that's what happens when you marry into hearty farmworker stock.

*Full disclosure: as a teen (mumble 16 years ago) I loved Punnett squares. Our AP Bio teacher happened to have a teachers' edition of the text with a misprint that omitted the answers to a big section of the genetics problems, and our teacher kept getting lost trying to work them out, and several of us spent several class periods arguing with her... which I still look back on with fondness.
I tried out a recipe for coffee cake ("breakfast cake", which is... what?) that looked interesting, and I think I accidentally discovered the perfect blueberry muffin. I'm not saying the recipe for the perfect blueberry muffin was a big secret or anything, I just didn't happen to know it: there are a lot of cookies in my baking repertoire and quite a few muffins, but my mom always made crumble and pie out of our blueberries.

And blueberry muffins are so popular in the US that the bad ones vastly outnumber the good, which has made me wary. It means that usually when I've had them it's the bad kind, and that doesn't exactly engender enthusiasm. But anyway, I was comparing lemon cake recipes online and had bought lemon extract for the planned Lemon Cake Try-Outs, and I substituted it for lemon zest in this coffee cake out of convenience, but WOW.

(I also used almond milk with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar instead of buttermilk and omitted the vanilla.) The only flaw in this recipe was the batter, which was really so thick it was almost dough. It uses whipped butter instead of oil, which of course is famous for tasting better, but I had a hard enough time wrestling it flat in a square cake pan - I shudder to think what it'd be like in individual muffin cups.

So probably what remains is to replace the butter with canola oil (it might need some more milk or water too) and scale the whole thing up for a bigger batch, which I'll definitely have to do in the near future.
Scribbled on the calendar. 2014

Read more... )
It's the Yuletide reveal!
Never Let No One Man Worry Your Mind (5538 words) by cimorene
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Cosmo Brown & Don Lockwood, Cosmo Brown/Other(s)
Characters: Cosmo Brown, Don Lockwood
Additional Tags: Queer Gen, Queer History, vaudeville, Chicago, Friendship, Drag Queens, Queer Themes, Mistaken for Being in a Relationship, Queer Culture

"Cos! Thank God you're alive, I thought my double act was about to become a single," Don said. "Where have you been?"

"In jail," Cosmo whispered back, "Happy birthday."

Don clapped him on the shoulder. "Thanks; you're a little late, but... in where?"

"Keep your voice down," hissed Cosmo, just as a hail of applause blew the curtain back and practically deafened him. "In jail."

I got assigned my all-time favorite movie since childhood again, which is always exciting, and seeing my recipient was interested in Cosmo's roots got me even more excited to research because I've always wanted to know more about vaudeville.

I had a great time learning about it, a very frustrating time trying to learn about queer culture of the time, and went way overboard listening to period music to use (there's a playlist, but that's less than 1/5th of the music I downloaded - I listened to 1900-1930 pop hits for about a month, prompting [personal profile] waxjism and [personal profile] perhael to worriedly tell me to relax, 50 tracks is enough!! etc several times).

I've always shipped OT3 (and written it), and it was almost an accident that I arrived at the decision to write their love as brotherly here (but still very much the center of the story), but once I decided it went surprisingly smoothly.
I spent like 2 years thoroughly dissatisfied with a bunch of different wallets because I'm picky (I wanted the smaller size that would fit in any pocket, and because I have to carry a few coins but mostly cards, I ultimately got my heart set on the zip-around kind with accordion folds which is rare, and I ultimately stumbled on it in an airport duty free shop) (it was this one)1.

Anyway, the last time I saw my wallet was getting on the bus home from downtown Saturday after seeing Star Wars, when I swiped my bus card. Sunday I went for a walk with Wax and didn't even look for it, so I didn't notice until I was on my way to the post office (to get a package) & police station (to pick up my new residence permit) Tuesday and ended up turning the flat upside-down. I looked in every bag, under every piece of furniture, inside every cabinet, behind the microwave, under and inside every object or shape or container in the closet... I think I've run out of places I might have left it, and ultimately concluded it must have fallen out of my pocket on the bus, rather than my absent-mindedly putting it in the wrong place (which is rare anyway - I have programmed myself fairly successfully to empty my coat pockets into a series of baskets when I come home, because the weather is changeable and I usually can't guarantee I'll wear the same coat from day to day).

So we looked online but it wasn't completely clear where you're supposed to go for that. I went to the city bus customer service office and they just gave me a business card for the regional Lost & Found office. I looked up their website and then found another bus to take me there, only to discover an impromptu "closed on account of sickness sorry" sign on the door. Except they're SCHEDULED to be closed for New Year's starting tomorrow until Jan 6. I started walking back to downtown, discouraged and preferring the exercise of a walk from St Martin's to the market square to standing on an unfamiliar block at a busstop without even a shelter at dusk.

I happened to look up and realize I was outside the police station, so I went in there. I found out last night that Tuesday was the LAST day I could have picked up my permit there until January 4, when all Foreign Nationals business will be conducted from suburb Raisio's police station instead (budget cuts!!). (It's closer to us as the crow flies but I've never been there and going by how the buses run around here it might take longer to get there?) I don't actually URGENTLY need my residence card for anything but since I was there anyway I asked the desk worker if their stuff was still there today - it's only 1 day after! - but he said all the stuff is inaccessible, AND they didn't have my wallet. He took my number in case they get it sometime in the next 3 weeks and told me the Lost & Found place was more likely to get it if it had been lost on the bus.

In the meantime, it's hard to commit fraud with a pin-chip electron card if you don't steal the pin electronically, so the scams that do this use some kinda hacking devices on ATMs or something like that I think. So that isn't a big danger, and I could cancel my card at any moment anyway. The bigger losses are:

  • the wallet itself because I'm not even sure I can order one from inside the country

  • my Finnish social security card, which I'll have to apply for, and which I need to buy prescriptions or go to the doctor or dentist and I kinda needed to make a couple appointments for that

  • my bus card, which probably had like 40 bucks on it

  • 3 plastic customer cards that will need replaced

  • the certification card that allows me to work with uncooked food, which I need for all the fields of employment I could seek, and to replace it I have to call some random? woman? who administered the test when I took it last year. I have those papers on file but still ugh

In the meantime I had to choose between buying another bus card and buying single tickets every time, which is quite a bit more expensive - in retrospect, I should've bought another card today if the earliest I could get it back is the 7th.

1. before I found that one, I had the so called "half-zip" type that zips over the long side of the rectangle and halfway down one short side, and it's fine for the stuff in front, but if you have too many different cards in it, it's a hassle, and I was struggling to pull out my yarn shop, tea shop and The Body Shop loyalty cards from behind my ids and bank cards often enough that I got dissatisfied
When I was a child, when my immediate family wasn't visiting relatives on the Catholic side, we'd usually go for singing and hot chocolate on xmas eve - our church was agnostic usually but the songs were more hymns than carols in deference to many of the adults' Christian childhoods, and I always found religious lyrics alienating. Then we'd drive by and look at the ostentatious lights on the houses in the gated suburban communities on the way home. That was pretty much it for xmas traditions, and family visits were about the visiting, without even any special formula for the food (there was usually a lot of it, but that's it).

Here in Finland the traditions are family-oriented. The first few years I came to Finland, when Eldest Deitychild was an infant and the only representative of the next generation, there were Waxfamily gatherings where my mother-in-law had like, enough food to feed the seven adults present for two weeks and her flat festooned in greenery, red satin curtains, straw and red felt and brass traditional Nordic Christmas decor, three kinds of homemade candy with the Swedish gingerbread on the sideboard, and the Christmas Eve dinner was followed by Swedish drinking songs and snaps, wine, cheese, boardgames and puzzles. At that time, there was always plenty of snow at the end of the year too (hasn't happened the last five years or so), so the whole experience was a lovely advertisement for the Finnish holiday, and I was happy to go over to this model and felt no nostalgia for the childhood ones (except missing my family).

Now that my brothers-in-law have four and two children respectively, they have their own family celebrations in addition to the Waxfamily arrangements, which aren't hosted by my mother-in-law anyway. We've had some big holiday dinners hosted by Wax's brother and his wife, which were festive, but all the relaxed and pleasant atmosphere of the evening is removed by the noise of a lot of children and the fussiness that sugar and presents bring.

This is my mother-in-law's last year before retirement and she's mostly moved to a new flat nearby which is too small to host the whole family anyway, so that probably won't be part of whatever Waxfamily does in the future.

This is also the first year she's eaten xmas eve dinner with (just) us. We have a table with leaves this year, so that is doable for the first time on our end. We put out candles and a tablecloth and supplied mashed potatoes and bread and cheese. For three people - and Wax and I each typically eat about half an adult restaurant serving per meal - MIL brought:

  • A leg of cold mutton

  • Enough chicken and vegetable patés to fill our second-largest platter

  • A pan of sauteed mushrooms, which is a traditional xmas dish for their family

  • A big salad

  • An entire basket of fruit

  • A box of homemade chocolate truffles that we didn't even get around to eating

And Wax was deputized to prepare a disturbingly pink beetroot "herring" salad and a bowl of bright pink vinegared whipped cream on the side.

It took longer to put the food in the fridge and pack it up than to eat it, almost.

I made two kinds of Christmas cookies and some peanut butter cups and took them to brother-in-law's place today, where we went to eat pizza and give the niblings their presents. The cookies always get a warm reception there, and I enjoy making them (obviously eating them too, but making them for other people even more so). It doesn't seem quite as cosy and festive to me, somehow, though. Maybe I'll put cut greenery up or find a way to hang more ornaments without a pet-vulnerable tree next year.


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