kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
Last night, I bolted out of a dead sleep at a little after 11 because the landline was ringing. I run downstairs, but let it go to the answering machine, which is basically a reflex at this point. No message.

I then look at my phone, because grabbing that when I wake up in the middle of the night is absolutely a reflex (though the Pip sleeps much, much better these days!) . . . and it was me. The cell had someone dialed the landline. [*]

I post this story elsewhere, and literally seconds later, I get the punchline )

[*] On reflection, it wasn't that late, so I think I fell asleep with the phone still on in my hand and touched it enough to keep the screen awake, until eventually I randomly dialed home. I checked, I hadn't made any other outgoing calls, at least.

Yuletide and bears

Oct. 18th, 2017 08:05 am
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
SteelyKid made teddy-bear-pipe-cleaner swaps [*] for her Girl Scouts bridging ceremony last night, which she was justly proud of because she'd figured out a better way to make them that didn't involve cutting up the pipe cleaners, and she distributed them by running up to people, sticking out her full hands, and saying, "Bears!"

Which made me laugh every time, thinking of friends writing Yuletide.

Anyway, her swaps were a big hit, and if you need a Yuletide beta and you think I might know your fandom, hit me up even if it's not on the spreadsheet. Comments are screened.

[*] Any kind of little craft on a safety pin that you can trade.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
 This looks like another "young outcast discovers his powers" book.  Wow, is it not.   Trust me. In the very first scene, Kellen needs to fight a magecaster's duel.  

There are three requirements to earning a mage's name among the JanTep.  The first is the strength to defend your family.  The second is the ability to wield the high magics that protect our people.  The third is simply to reach the age of sixteen.  I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn't be doing any of those things.

And we're off, into the duel.  Kellen's problem is that he doesn't have magic.   This is not a survivable problem.   But Kellep does have a very, very clever mind.  In a lesser book, Kellep would discover his magic and wipe the floor with his opponent, winning the acclaim of the crowd. 

This is not a lesser book.  Spellslinger is actually about a young outcast discovering and creating his own moral fiber.  Kellep's struggle, although he doesn't realize it early in the book, is to become a decent human being in an indecent society.  This is a far more interesting coming-of-age story than you usually get.   When the Mysterious Stranger shows up, she's not a kindly wizard mentor.  She's (possibly) not a wizard at all. She doesn't teach Kellep: she gives him opportunities to teach himself.  Kellep acquires some new resources, but they are challenges as much as gifts.

Oh, the Mysterious Stranger kicks ass.  I can't say more, because it would be a spoiler.  She is compelling and ambiguous and funny and tough.

The characters are engrossing.  The worldbuilding is unusual and clever. It's partly based around an original variant of a Tarot deck, but is in no way woo-woo; the cards do not predict your future, but (sometimes) illuminate your choices. The cards are playing cards, but are also a weapon.   The cards have nothing to do -- as far as we know -- with the magic of the JanTep.

The book itself is gorgeous, in a way that made me extremely nostalgic.  The red-and-black cover has two line drawings of the main characters, presented as a face card. (Don't look too closely at Kellep; it's a spoiler.)  Red is used as a spot color, very effectively.  There are interior illustrations of relevant Tarot cards at the beginning of each section.  And the page edges (forget the technical term) are red!  Taken as a whole, the book looks a bit like a deck of cards, which is, I'm sure intentional.

Here's the catch.  There (as of time of writing) no U.S. or Canadian distributor of Spellslinger or its sequel, Shadowblack.  If you're in North America and want to read them, you'll have to order from the, in my experience, reliable, fast, and cheap www.bookdepository.com or an equivalent.

Note: de Castell's Greatcoat books are also awesome.  If you like the Musketeers books, you should love them.  The nice thing is that they preserve the essential "three duelists against the world" spirit without either copying the plots or being pastiche-y.  The second nice thing is that the author is a stage fight choreographer and is able to communicate fights clearly to the non-fighter (me).

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.)
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
Nothing ages faster than style guides; the language moves on while the guide continues to shake a fist at the previous generation's shibboleths. (Lookin' at you, Strunk and White. Fowler is at least funny.)

Today, I give you Ambrose Bierce's Write It Right, published 1909. There are gems on every page, but here are a few:

THE BLACKLIST
A for An. "A hotel." "A heroic man." Before an unaccented aspirate use an. The contrary usage in this country comes of too strongly stressing our aspirates.
Note that this means he thinks you should say "HOtel". Some people (*cough*fuddyduddies*cough* still agitate for "An heroic", but I've never seen anybody objecting to "A hotel".

Chivalrous. The word is popularly used in the Southern States only, and commonly has reference to men's manner toward women. Archaic, stilted and fantastic.
I kind of love this. Boy, would Bierce hate "kind of".

Every for Ever. "Every now and then." This is nonsense: there can be no such thing as a now and then, nor, of course, a number of now and thens. Now and then is itself bad enough, reversing as it does the sequence of things, but it is idiomatic and there is no quarreling with it. But "every" is here a corruption of ever, meaning repeatedly, continually.
Good old false etymology.

Some forgotten slang and dialect:
Avoirdupois for Weight. Mere slang.
Clever for Obliging. In this sense the word was once in general use in the United States, but is now seldom heard and life here is less insupportable.
Decidedly for Very, or Certainly. "It is decidedly cold."
Gent for Gentleman. Vulgar exceedingly.

So. Tell me your favorites!


#PullTheFootball

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.)

Poem help!

Oct. 13th, 2017 10:01 am
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
Does anybody remember a prose-poem about a young man who is determined to see the truth of everything?  The important part is the ending, in which the man, grown old, looks into the eyes of young men and sees a kindly old gentleman who is fond of sunsets.   The last line is something close to

"That is what he saw in the eyes of those wicked young men".

I thought this was by Stephen Crane.  Does anybody recognize it? 

(no subject)

Oct. 11th, 2017 09:46 pm
cofax7: climbing on an abbey wall  (Default)
[personal profile] cofax7
it's all feeling a bit apocalyptic right now...

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.

(no subject)

Oct. 9th, 2017 11:58 am
vaznetti: (crossovers! yay!)
[personal profile] vaznetti
Good luck to all you Yuletiders! I hope you get a really good assignment, and are assigned to someone who loves your prompts! I will not personally be taking part this year because between now and December 8 I anticipate having roughly 0 days free of work, but I will keep an eye on the pinch hit list in December just in case I see something where I could do a good job quickly.

On the more positive side, I am nearly ready to upload my [community profile] crossovering story, which I think is the first piece of fanfiction I've written since 2015. Wow. (I have a half-written Yuletide story from that year, but I had to default, and a bit of handwritten drawerfic.) I'd also like to finish a treat I started, but we'll see.

The Good Place S02E01-E04

Oct. 7th, 2017 09:28 pm
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
(The first week was two episodes back-to-back, which is why we're up to episode four.)

I love this show very, very much. Also, Chad hasn't seen S1, but we watched the first four episodes of S2 together and he enjoyed it too, so while you definitely should watch S1—I think the characterizations work better that way—you can totally jump in at S2. (I did pause it once, to explain Mindy, but that was it.)

If you haven't seen it yet: go, see it! You'll almost certainly like it! And my goodness does it burn through plot at an extraordinarily high rate of speed, wow. This is really good, really funny, really thoughtful speculative fiction, and it makes me incredibly happy.

SPOILERS through currently-aired episodes )

Spoilers are ok in comments--please do, in fact!

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