attempting embroidery

Oct. 16th, 2017 10:18 pm
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
Somehow, I don't know how, I started following an embroidery blog, Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread. And I liked what I saw, but transferring designs seemed really tedious and also fraught with the possibility of error, and it's not like I don't have enough stitching projects on hand already.

. . . and then, of course, I found pre-printed "coloring book" fabric in a craft store, very cheap. So I decided to give it a try, using spare floss from my stash.

The fabric is "Zenbroidery", specifically the Garden print. The picture has suggested stitching, but, well, check out the big version: you could see the printing through the stitching, I just couldn't make myself do it. So I dug through the Needle 'n Thread archives for ideas, picked out some floss, popped the fabric on my Q-Snaps, and started out.

It was a lot of fun at first! Not having to look at a pattern makes things flow surprisingly quickly and enjoyably. And making the vines split off and curl around was very satisfying.

Here's as far as I got before I stopped:

picture )

(click to make huge, or view on Google Photos)

I'm stopping for several reasons: I don't like the colors I picked; it's too big (10" square); satin stitch with a single strand of DMC is incredibly tedious; and worst, the fabric is just awful: it's so thin you can see the brown desk underneath it, and every time I had to pick out stitches or try to set them close together, I was afraid I'd rip it.

So I'm going to put this aside and get some better-quality (and smaller) preprinted fabric from Etsy, as my travel project. Because I have also started gridding the Teresa Wentzler Celestial Dragon, nearly eight years after I was given the pattern, and that's not a travel project in the least. (I'm making myself a ruler for the gridding, and even with that I'm still so nervous about messing it up that I'm sure I'm going to recount all the blocks regardless, because I'm planning to do as she suggests and stitch the border first . . . )

Do you embroider? Do you have a favorite pattern source or type? (I think I might try crewel at some point, because the nice soft thick wool threads look very appealing.)

music lyrics?

Oct. 16th, 2017 07:04 pm
yhlee: Jedao's motto: I'm your gun (hxx I'm your gun)
[personal profile] yhlee
One of my favorite songs is The Bloody Lovelies' "Hologram" [YouTube, about 3:30] and while I normally don't care about lyrics, this is one of the times that I wish I could understand them all. I own the physical CD and the booklet-thing doesn't come with lyrics, nor have I been able to find lyrics online.

Is anyone willing to listen to the song and transcribe the lyrics in comments? I would be happy to write you a flashfic to a prompt of your choosing. :]

(Based on the snippets of lyrics I do understand, I consider this to be the unofficial theme song of Revenant Gun, LOL.)

ETA: ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Playing ping pong while the cat is lounging on the ping pong table. This lasted until a stray ping pong ball, uh, caught her in the snoot, at which point she scurried under the table...

Monday, Full of Monday Things

Oct. 16th, 2017 09:51 am
lydamorehouse: (swoon)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
 Death by a thousand cuts?  Eh, probably not, but today didn't exactly start out as smoothly as I'd planned.  

We're getting geared up for a trip to visit the in-laws in Indiana and I had wanted to get the car checked over before we took it on the road.  I dropped everyone off as usual at work/school, and headed for Dave's Auto.  I asked them when they might have time for me, but, alas, it was not today. In fact, probably not until Wednesday, which I agreed to, forgetting that I had to work. It occurred to me half-way home, and when I reached for my cell phone to call them back to cancel, I realized that I'd forgotten my phone at home.  I gave up and got myself a conciliatory coffee at Cladaugh and then made my way back home.  

Having had planned to spend my day dealing with the car, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do, but--you know, it's not like there's a shortage of things to be done, so I'm currently sitting at the laundromat waiting on a final load of rag rugs to finish washing.  Then, I'm going to dash over to the Super Valu or whatever the gas station is across the way and vacuum out the car in prep for the trip.  

We're not even entirely sure we're going to do this trip, after all.  Yesterday wen we were pulling out the air-conditioner to take back up to the attic for the season, Shawn's back went out again. She's in the delicate phase, where she FEELS like she can do all the things, but one wrong move will set her all the way back. She did the ONE WRONG MOVE.  If she's not feeling better by tonight, we will likely cancel the trip because 10 hours in a car is _not good_ for the back.

Mason and I were sort of looking forward to the road trip, because ROAD TRIP! Plus, I was going to make a special effort this time to find postcards of Indiana to send to my various pen pals.  But, we might still be on--even though it will mean leaving without having a chance to have the car looked over. Fingers crossed for things to turn out for whatever is best.

Okay, I think that's my buzzer.  

Guess the author!

Oct. 16th, 2017 10:07 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
"Atwood lifted much of HANDMAID from Heinlein. Yet the world thinks she’s an original."

Pull the Football

Oct. 14th, 2017 07:41 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
Rachel Manija Brown has started a campaign called Pull the Football, which in essence is a grassroots effort to get Congress to take the nuclear football (the ability to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on his own recognizance) away from Trump.

I think Gen X in particular (although hardly exclusively) grew up with a sort of fatalism about nuclear war. It was probably going to happen and because we were kids, there was nothing we could do about it. It became reified (thing-ified), turned from a series of decisions made by human beings into something like the monolith from 2001, unknowable and impervious to anything human beings could do. Many of us were shocked to reach 25, and we've never quite been sure about what to do with the fact that we have survived into adulthood. It would be horribly easy for us to slide back into that same fatalism, to go back to living with one shoulder unconsciously hunched against the monolith just outside our range of vision.

But we aren't kids any longer and there is something we can do. There is specific legislation already proposed in both the House (HR 669) and the Senate (S 200) that would take away the "nuclear football" that gives Trump the power 24/7 to launch a nuclear strike without consulting anybody. (It would take him about five minutes.)

Nobody should have this power. Nobody.

I think it's a sign of how sick the Cold War made all of us, not only that the President was given this power in the first place, but that it's never been rescinded, even though it's been 30 years since the Berlin Wall came down. The cure is simple, and that's the point of Rachel's Pull the Football campaign.

I don't agree with everything Rachel says--I don't think it's worth trying to persuade congresspeople who aren't YOUR congresspeople to do anything because all the staffers I've seen say anything say that non-constituents will be disregarded--but I am in 100% agreement with her goal and in 100% agreement that, while one person pushing gets nowhere, if we all push together, we can effect change.

So, yes. Please call--and keep calling--your congresspeople. If they are already co-sponsoring either HR 669 or S 200 tell them you support them and ask them to speak out publicly about it. (It is SUPER IMPORTANT to tell your representatives when you support what they're doing. They need that data.) If they aren't co-sponsoring their respective bill, ask them to get in the game. AND KEEP ASKING. A lot of people have spent a lot of time this year repeatedly calling their representatives about saving the ACA and that is in no small part why Congress has been unable to pass a repeal bill.

The Congressional switchboard is 202-224-3121. The voicemail system is extremely polite and easy to navigate (and has the only robot voice in America that I actually find pleasant to listen to). If you can't face the idea of talking to a real person, believe me I sympathize. You call call at night, in the early morning, on the weekends, and leave a voicemail. VOICEMAIL COUNTS.

Use Resistbot. Text resist to 50409, and it will help you write faxes or letters to your representatives.

Send email. Your representatives will have contact forms on their websites. Even unresponsive representatives like Senator Ron Johnson are marginally more responsive to email. You at least get a form letter telling you all the reasons why the thing you oppose is a good idea.

Send letters to your local paper. Congresspeople have staffers who compile press cuttings, and they are keenly interested in what shows up about them in public fora. Being a politician is largely about PR, so anything you can do that shows up IN PUBLIC will at least get their attention.

And when you call your reps or send an email, tweet about it or post about it on Facebook or whatever social media platform you favor. Show people that it's easy to make themselves heard. Remind them that their congresspeople are their elected representatives. It is their job to listen to their constituents. Even if you've got nothing but Republican apparatchiks, it is still worth telling them what you think and what you want.

My philosophy about representatives like Johnson, who seem to have been expressly created to embody everything I hate, is that even if I can't teach the pig to sing, I can annoy the snot out of him. I won't change his mind, and don't expect to, but I can make him less willing to, for example, vote yes on repealing the ACA. That's what killed it this last time in the Senate; McConnell decided he couldn't be sure of getting the votes he needed. Too many Republican senators were getting too much pushback.

Pull the Football is a little different, since the goal is to gain co-sponsors and yes votes, but the same principle applies. They're going to bend in the direction popular opinion is blowing, and what we want is to escalate popular opinion from a breeze to a gale. (If you like the image of congresspeople falling over like bowling pins, that's okay, too.)

I don't want nuclear war. I don't think anyone wants nuclear war (except maybe Trump). The nuclear football is a sick hangover from the Cold War, and honestly no president needs or should have the ability to pre-emptively (i.e., without provocation) nuke anyone.

So by whatever method you favor, please apply pressure to your elected representatives. Pull the football away from Trump.

signal boost

Oct. 14th, 2017 02:40 am
rushthatspeaks: (signless: be that awesome)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
It would, to understate the case, be nice if 45 no longer had instant access to the nuclear codes.

S.200/H.R.669, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act 2017, would keep the President "from using the Armed Forces to conduct a first-use nuclear strike unless such strike is conducted pursuant to a congressional declaration of war expressly authorizing such strike", which could also help put a stop to the string of wars-that-have-not-been-officially-declared that the U.S. has been in since WWII. (If we're going to be at war, Congress should have to admit it.)

This bill has been sitting in committee since January. Getting it passed is very important, since right now we are on the edge of a nuclear war even more than we have been on the edge of a nuclear war since 45's inauguration, and every time I think the danger level has to de-escalate he says something else.

[personal profile] rachelmanija has a script and phone numbers for those of you who are in the U.S. to call your Congresspeople and push for this to get out of committee. Note that this includes a link to Resistbot, which will fax, call, or write your representatives for you, free.

She's also trying to get the hashtag #PullTheFootball going, for those of you who use Twitter and other places that hashtag; getting a visible groundswell of opinion would be very helpful in moving Congress forward on the bill. If you're not a U.S. citizen but have U.S. citizens following you on social media, using this hashtag can help with visibility and with getting the word out about phoning/writing to your followers.

If this law passes, it could literally save the world. May the ghost of Stanislav Petrov watch over us all.


Oct. 13th, 2017 09:29 pm
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
Everything is terrible, but people living in the US, or US citizens abroad, take a minute for this?

Support the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act (S. 200, H.R. 669) to require a, you know, declaration of war by Congress before the President can launch a first nuclear strike.

rydra_wong has links and context, and rachelmanija has phone numbers and a script. (Don't, however, spend your time contacting members of Congress outside your districts; save your energy.)

UBC: Presley, The Phantom Killer

Oct. 13th, 2017 05:52 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
The Phantom Killer: Unlocking the Mystery of the Texarkana Serial Murders: The Story of a Town in TerrorThe Phantom Killer: Unlocking the Mystery of the Texarkana Serial Murders: The Story of a Town in Terror by James Presley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is another excellent book like The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America's First Serial Killer, equally local history & true crime. This time, the location is Texarkana (TX/AR) and the true crime is the so-called Phantom Killer of 1946.

I first learned about the Phantom Killer through an indie documentary called Killer Legends, which is about four urban legends & the real life crimes that might have inspired them. (Zeman and Mills investigate the Phantom Killer and The Town That Dreaded Sundown, which really was, for some benighted reason, remade in 2014; the babysitter as target of psychopath (Halloween, Scream, etc.) & a serial killer in Missouri who actually did target babysitters (otherwise, they find, babysitting is a remarkably safe occupation); poisoned Halloween candy and the vile Ronald Clark O'Bryan; and the epidemic of clown sightings in Chicago (which apparently hit again in 2016, after Killer Legends) and John Wayne Gacy.) This documentary is a follow-up to Cropsey (2009), which Zeman and a different research partner filmed about the same idea on their native Staten Island: the link between the urban legends they grew up on and the crimes of Andre Rand.) Presley is interviewed in Killer Legends.

Presley patiently untangles a snarl of personal histories: the victims, the investigators, the panicked people of Texarkana, and Presley's choice for the killer, Youell Swinney. Swinney was never tried for the murders (nor was anyone else), which is why they're still considered unsolved, but Presley's research (including interviews with cops who survived long enough to talk to Presley as very old men but were dead before he wrote the book) presents a compelling case for why Youell Swinney wasn't tried for murder; they chose to try him for something they knew they could make stick instead of relying on a witness who they knew equally was telling the truth and not telling the whole truth, which is just asking for disaster in cross-examination, reasoning that the important thing was to stop him. Presley goes back and forth between theory (FBI profiling developed in the years since Swinney's murders) and practice (what Swinney did) to try to tease out his motives. While I'm becoming increasingly dubious of the FBI's organized/disorganized schema, their theories about what sorts of things you see in the early childhood of signature killers does seem to hold up pretty well across the cases I've read about. In this case, Presley does a good job of lining up the reasons why Swinney would go after couples and what was at the root of his overpowering rage.
This was charming as a history of Texarkana and fascinating as criminology.

View all my reviews

please signal-boost

Oct. 13th, 2017 02:12 pm
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
[personal profile] yhlee
Pull The Football - Save the World by [personal profile] rachelmanija.

Are you worried about nuclear war? I am too. Keep reading for a way to stop it with one simple action.

Maybe you feel small and powerless. But many snowflakes make an avalanche. If we all move in the same direction, we'll be unstoppable. We will only fail if we choose not to act.

Trump has the power to order a pre-emptive nuclear strike for any reason - or no reason at all. He's always shadowed by a man with a briefcase of codes, called the "nuclear football," to enable him to launch nuclear missiles at any time. It would take less than five minutes from his order to the missiles being launched, and no one could stop him. Republican Senator Bob Corker says Trump is leading us into World War III. I believe him.

But we don't have to stand by and let it happen. Let's pull away that football!

Both House and Senate have bills to prevent the President from launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike without a congressional declaration of war. They're both called the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. Passing those bills may literally save the world.

See link for further details. Please signal-boost if you are so inclined.
lydamorehouse: (ticked off Ichigo)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
I volunteered this morning at Quatrefoil Library, like I do, from time to time.  As I was leaving, I ran into an older lesbian (the library shares its space with a 55+ queer-friendly and low-income housing) who saw me leaving the library and assumed I worked there. She wanted to know if the board position had been filed. I told her I thought it had, but they can always use more volunteers, so she should check with the staff when the library was open. I 'leaned in' a little to say that Q Library specifically needs more lesbians.  She leaned in deeper to say, "More *identified* lesbians."  I pulled back and give her the ?? stare.  She says, "Oh, I talked to some woman there not long ago and she was all, 'oh, I dunno, asexual, I guess?'"  I'm standing there with my mouth open because I'm thinking, "And?" and this woman thinks I'm aghast for a different reason and continues with, "I know, right? What did we fight for, eh? So these kids can be 'oh I don't know!'"  She's super affronted and horrified and kind of goes on in this manner for a while.  I just go, "Um." And make my excuses and leave, but in the car, I'm thinking about this exchange and I'm reminded, too, about some other older feminists in my life and conversations I've had with them and I WISH I had had the wherewithal to say, "Look, I'm sorry, but GLBTQIA+ is not some club *you* founded. It's an IDENTITY. You don't get to decide who is a member or not.  That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works. Ace and Questioning are absolutely part of the queer spectrum!"

But, I didn't.

I hate that. I also hate the assumption that because I'm (white and) older now, I'm down with whatever they-think-they're-still-the-radicals-but-they-actually-are-the-empitome-of-conservative agenda these other older, white women have.  The moment you say, "we fought for" in past tense, sisters, you're not radical.  Radical is walking in the now, present-tense--knowing what your twenty-something and under comrades are fighting for today and supporting THAT (or at LEAST shutting up and listening.)

I hate this especially now. We need -all- our allies, even the ones that don't fit into whatever image you have for queerness.  You'd think the older lesbians would remember that. You'd think they'd remember what it was like when we were all outsiders, all under attack.

Raven Stratagem audiobook giveaway

Oct. 12th, 2017 08:02 pm
yhlee: two voidmoths at war (hxx Raven Stratagem)
[personal profile] yhlee
I have one copy of the Raven Stratagem audiobook to give away. Comment if interested. Shipping's on me anywhere in the world. Over the weekend at some point I'll pick a winner via random number generator.

National Coming Out Day

Oct. 12th, 2017 08:58 am
lydamorehouse: (I love homos)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
 ...was yesterday.  

Yesterday, while I was taking a few bags of things to GoodWill, like you do, I ran into our gay neighbors down the block. (These folks are not to be confused with our now-former gay next-door neighbors, Lee and Chip, who is now just Lee, moved out years ago, but is still our tax consultant.) The new gay neighbors down the block are also an older white couple, whose names (OF COURSE!) I instantly forgot, but are comprised of a hairdresser and a lawyer.  I met the hairdresser on 11/9, when I was out raking and he randomly asked me, "How are you?" in that "I'm just fulfilling the social contract by acknowledging my neighbor" way, but I responded with a full on rant about Trump, which then caused him to lament honestly as well, us both to come out to each other, and form a 'we should get to know each other' kind of Minnesota friendship*.

That was a while ago now, but yesterday they were both walking together as I came out of my house with my donation bags, and we got to talking. I made a remark about the fact that it was National Coming Out Day, and I find out that the lawyer used to DATE one of the co-founders of NCOD. How cool is that?

His bit of information made me go look up National Coming Out Day on Wikipedia, and I discovered that I came out as a lesbian one year before the official establishment of National Coming Out Day in 1988.  Also a cool bit of information, wouldn't you agree?

In other news, Mason is off to see Romeo & Juliet at the Guthrie today.  He's basically missing most of his school day, getting to go to his two favorites: first period math and "510" debate.  He's also staying late tonight because it's the robotics team's recruitment potluck tonight, for which I made two dozen cookies (none of which were my best. I think I should always bake in the early afternoon when it's certain I've had sufficient caffeine for the job.)  Last night we went to Kohl's to buy him dress pants for homecoming, as well as some new school clothes, which he's been needing for a while. (Damn those growth spurts.)

For myself, I'm off to work at Shoreview Library in about fifteen minutes.

Anyway, here and queer in case you somehow missed the memo.  :-)

* Minnesota Nice is actually not what most people would consider "nice."  We tend to keep ourselves to ourselves, as the British might say, and so there's this whole category of friends to whom you cheerfully and 'sincerely' say, "We should do dinner sometime!" but really mean, "I like you enough to offer potential future closeness, but that will actually never happen, BUT *I think* I like you enough to say you would make a good dinner companion!" 

DIY electronic bullet journal

Oct. 11th, 2017 10:53 pm
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
I realized I've been using with a DIY electronic bullet journal since January and actually keeping up with it . . . consistently, the whole time? . . . so it's probably time to write it up.

tl;dr: I use Dynalist, a free webpage/app that allows you to generate collapsible outlines, to keep a to-do checklist and journal bullet points for every day. I like this because things that don't get done can just be dragged into a new day, and because bullet points for journaling lowers the mental energy required to keep up with it. This system is highly flexible, goes with me everywhere, and lets me keep almost everything in one place. (I use Google Calendar for things that need to be scheduled more than two weeks out.)

Setting the scene: )

Then, in early January, I read Tobias Buckell's post on bullet journaling, which made it sound sensible and appealing. After a little more reading (I noted down this Buzzfeed post), I found a recommendation for Workflowy as an electronic bullet journal—necessary because I will not carry paper with me everywhere and I need to have access to my to-do list at all times—the examples were way more complicated than I needed, but did show that it could be very powerful and customizable.

I stopped using Workflowy at the end of July for two reasons: first, the mobile app was not good, it was way too easy to drag stuff around by accident, but hard to move it on purpose; second, it only lets you keep a single (infinitely long and collapsible) outline, which was cramping my reference-note-keeping-consolidation.

Hence: Dynalist. Which is free, and which has an Android app in beta which is much more functional, and which lets you have multiple documents. (It also has a Workflowy import.) The paid version is a smidge expensive ($8/month billed annually), but I haven't felt the need for it; I might, however, end up signing up anyway just to toss them some money. I use a pinned Chrome tab (like so) on desktop, because I didn't realize it had a Windows desktop app in beta until I just checked.

Here's how I've adapted the general bullet journal idea to a collapsible outline app: )

I've sometimes gotten a few days behind, but never more than a few, and I've always gone back and filled in at least a point or two about the day. And I started on January 9, so that's really pretty darn good. It hasn't been a magic (heh) bullet about getting things done, but it has reduced the amount of effort I put into keeping track of things, which leaves more energy for actually doing them. So on the whole, I'm pretty happy with it; and in case it sounds useful to you, here it is.
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