Read Yoon Ha Lee's 'The Battle of Candle Arc' and 'Extracurricular Activities'. Immediately brandished 'Extracurricular Activities' at two other non-binary people I know, because of Shuos Meng. I should say something about how much I enjoyed the story as a story
, because I did, very much, but I am still stuck on THEY/THEM PRONOUNS WITHOUT FUSS OR EXPLANATION. This is such a big deal for me. (And now ironically I have just made a fuss about the thing I'm applauding for not making a fuss.)
About a quarter through Aliette de Bodard's House of Shattered Wings
. I like the setting a lot, but I haven't totally warmed up to the characters yet.
Started Cynthia Kim's (blogger of Musings of an Aspie) memoir Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate
. So far I'm only as far in as the adult diagnosis story, and can relate to her reading the symptom list and going "but wait, isn't that everyone?"
Finished reading Daring Greatly
and arguing with Brené Brown in my head. (And making up spoonerisms for the title. Dearly Grating, Grating Dearly, Drear'ly Gating, Dating Grearly (who?), Grading Tear'ly, Gearing Dratly... Okay, maybe I haven't finished doing that.)
"I've come to believe that a leader is anyone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes. The term leader has nothing to do with position, status, or number of direct reports. I wrote this chapter for all of us -- parents, teachers, community volunteers, and CEOs -- anyone who is willing to dare greatly and lead."
That passage is interesting to me for two reasons. Firstly, it outlines who Dr Brown believes is her audience. She may say it's for everyone, but the people who come to her mind are the two overlapping circles of "people on the PTA" and "people who give TED talks or want to give TED talks and their regular audiences". In other words, her own peers. People who drive minivans, and people who use "disruptive" in an approving way with a straight face. People who were "a little wild in college" but settled down after that and don't want their children to follow in their footsteps. Principally women, specifically mothers.
The other reason it's interesting is that her definition of leadership does not have any requirement at all for the consent of the governed or the accountability of the leaders (except self-accountability.) It doesn't seem to involve a relationship
between leader and led at all. By her definition, right here in this blog post, by identifying ways that she could improve her book, without having addressed her or interacted with her at all, I am leading Dr Brown. (But if I lead her to water, will she drink it?)
I suspect this definition of leader
would be particularly appealing to people who want to feel like
leaders. But then, I'm not "in the arena" with her, so my criticism is not valid. (Question: does she count the people being led as "in the arena" with their leaders? Or only other leaders and would-be leaders? From her previous descriptions of accountability to criticism, I suspect the latter. And for a book about courage
, it's striking how the examples she gives of confrontation are mainly lateral or downward, e.g. confronting one's spouse, confronting one's child, confronting one's employee. Not confronting one's parent or supervisor or political leaders.)
My other beef with her last week about "normalising discomfort" as part of the learning process. I agree that discomfort is necessary for real learning. I do agree with that. BUT. She did not discuss the other half of this, which is that comfort
is necessary for real learning. I think it's irresponsible not to talk about the one without the other, especially in a culture where "more is better" is such a chronic problem. I think "normalise discomfort", without setting bounds on how much discomfort or for how long, or checking the students' current and historical comfort and safety levels or what their other stressors are, is very dangerous advice to give. I'm sorry if I stated that too strongly, on rereading this paragraph I'm aware I sound like That Person expecting way too much of teachers with limited resources. I'm sorry. I just... "normalise discomfort" without any qualifiers gives me the howling fantods.
Aaaaand then she lost my respect entirely in the chapter on parenting, with this passage:
"If there's real abuse happening, by all means, call the police. If not, we shouldn't call it abuse. As a social worker who spent a year interning at Child Protective Services, I have little tolerance for debates that casually use the terms abuse
to scare or belittle parents who are simply doing things that we judge as wrong, different, or bad."
I would have thought that as a social worker who spent a year interning at Child Protective Services, she'd have learned that sometimes in cases of genuine abuse and neglect, the police cannot or will not help. And I would have thought that as a sociologist she'd care more about the survivors of abuse and neglect having language to describe what they've experienced without having to worry about it meeting the standard of making a police officer care. Not to mention that different police officers will make different judgement calls on the same incident. Can I get a second opinion before I'm allowed to say the A-word or the N-word? What other things does she hold to that standard? Fuck you.
There were good things in this book. I appreciated her ideas on the gap between values and lived experience, and on fitting in vs belonging. Generally I like her better as a researcher than as a "thought-leader". She's a lot better writing about her research rather than her opinions or judgements.Fanworks
Chocolate Box! I got two stories, Shadow Boxing
and What He Needs
, both Iron Bull/Vivienne (Dragon Age: Inquisition) and both awesome. And I wrote one story, A Guide To Moods
(Long Live The Queen, mind the warnings.)
And Psychic Wolves for Lupercalia, for which I wrote Mouth of the Wolf
(Imperial Radch, mind the warnings for this too.)
I particularly enjoyed petra
's psychic wolf fic this year, Paperwork can save your life
(B99.) TV and Movies
Watched the DVD of the 25th anniversary concert performance of Les Mis
. That was the first time I've ever seen or heard the whole musical. I'd heard songs from it (it is not possible to grow up in this culture without hearing some songs from it, and definitely not possible to study music at university without hearing songs from it!) but I wanted to read the book first because I am strange and obsessive.
So that was a lot.
Not being familiar with the libretto, I was struggling a bit with not laughing at the rhyming couplets. Or at every use of the word "come" in the first act finale, because I'm clearly too immature to be watching this. (The DVD is rated PG for "mild themes". If I were Claude-Michel Schönberg, I think I'd be offended at that. Mild?)
I think this was a good choice for my introduction to the musical. In particular I thought Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean was really, really good. His fil di voce alone was worth the price of the DVD. Norm Lewis as Javert was not as vocally
amazing as Boe, but his voice was definitely still good, and his acting and presence were amazing. Lea Salonga, as Fantine, didn't really win me over in the first act, but in her last scene... yeah, okay. ;_____;
I liked Gavroche, but kind of expected there would be more Gavroche in the musical than there was, based on the book. Same problem with the Amis in general. Eponine was awesome. Nick Jonas as Marius didn't impress me. He wasn't terrible by any means, but he didn't impress me. But he was playing Marius, so that worked -- Marius is a very unimpressive character. I have heard better renditions of 'Empty Chairs and Empty Tables', but his wasn't dismal. The staging of that song was great, though, with the ghosts of his dead friends all standing behind him glowering, and then walking away in disgust when he sang "Ah my friends, my friends, don't ask me / What your sacrifice was for."
Tiny Cosette was simple and effective. (Twelve-year-old vass
has Opinions about the tempo and phrasing of 'Castle on a Cloud', but is prepared to blame the conductor for that, not the singer. Thirty-six-year-old vass
thinks Past Self and the conductor are both wrong, but the conductor's less wrong.) Grown-up Cosette was unimpressive, but like Marius, it's a very unimpressive part. Not her fault.
Generally I liked the Amis. Courfeyrac (Killian Donnelly) looked a LOT like someone I went to uni with. Enjolras, played by Ramin Karimloo, in contrast to Alfie Boe's combination of heroic vocal strength plus really good technique, was singing kinda like he knew he was going to die on the barricades tonight so it didn't really matter if he had no voice left tomorrow. Not saying he wasn't good
, just that wow that is not vocally healthy or sustainable. I hope he didn't have a matinee the next day. Or week. Grantaire did not sing like he was about to die (Good. One of those was enough,) but he did act
like he had just had the epiphany that if he's about to die on the barricades tonight, he's got nothing to lose by making that pass at Enjolras after all, and Enjolras might just be humanly scared enough to be receptive to "Do you want to die a virgin, Apollo?" as a pick-up line. After Grantaire's verse, Enjolras allowed R to put his hand on his neck in a way that implied he probably would be deflowering him under a table shortly before their shared martyrdom. So that was nice.
This production depicted the deaths by allowing the technical crew to do WHATEVER THEY WANTED with lights. Ouch. I kept thinking of Arthur Wellesly's reported reaction to being asked if Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture was like the battle. "If it had been, I'd have run away myself."Here is skygiants
' review of the same performance, with screencaps.Podcasts
Still on the Hidden Almanac kick. Am considering writing fanfic. I think it'd be great for fusion fic. "On this day, fifteen years after the end of the Time of Isolation, Emperor Dorca the Just appointed Piotr Vorkosigan to be his general. And it was on this day, four hundred and thirty two years before that, during the Zidiarch Trade War, when the fifth Count Vortala named his horse as heir. It is not known what sort of count Lord Midnight would have made, as the horse did not survive the war. In the garden, bloody puffwort is springing up. Many Barrayarans believe this to be a weed, but there are offworlders who think its rusty colour and unusual texture have a unique charm..." (the host in this particular universe would probably be Ekaterin, Countess Vorkosigan.)Crafts
First attempt at room spray. I used this recipe
, but instead of essential oil I used homemade vanilla essence, and instead of following the recipe I filled my little spray bottle about 40% full with distilled water, then another 40% with vodka, then the rest of the way with the vanilla, then capped it and shook it. It turned out very, very mild. Mild enough to be less "room spray" and more "faintly nice-smelling thing you could spritz yourself with to cool down."
In retrospect, duh: my vanilla essence is already a solution of oil in alcohol. I literally made it by covering a bunch of split vanilla beans in vodka and leaving them somewhere cool and dark for a few months. I should have done half an half vanilla extract and distilled water, or maybe 40/60. Also I should add a drop or two of something else, because it is very one note for a fragrance. I mean, literally it is one note.
Made a journal cover like this
. Which looks a lot more complicated than what it is, which is like a cross between cutting out Contact paper to wrap school books in, and making a cushion cover. Pro tip: you don't have to do a seam along middle of the top and bottom. That bit can just be folded up and should stay in place because it's connected to the part you do sew (if you don't cut it.) Ironing the seams well is important, though (ugh.)
I used a length of fabric I tie-dyed sort-of-vaguely-Shibori style
this time last year. I like to believe that in this way I will eventually get around to completing all my craft projects.
Coloured another bookmark.Garden
Some more tomatoes. Not a huge crop, but already more than I've ever grown in my life. That's not a high bar to clear, though.Food
Baked this bread
. It was as easy as promised, and the texture was good. Nice for Vegemite sandwiches -- the flavour is a bit bland for just bread and butter.