frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)

I'm trying to figure out this whole "Where I slept in 2014" meme. I'm not great at remembering the past in a linear date-tagged sort of way so I bet this is incomplete.

I'm more than happy to answer "why the heck were you in...?" sorts of questions; I don't mean to be supervague, but neither do I want to write up a travelogue for the whole year!

So far I've got:

  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Melrose, Massachusetts
  • Somerville, Massachusetts
  • Wilmington, Massachusetts
  • Troy, New Hampshire
  • Augusta, Maine
  • Ellsworth, Maine
  • Portland, Maine
  • Bangor, Maine
  • Waterville, Maine
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Tacoma, Washington
  • Vancouver, British Columbia
  • San Francisco, California
  • Berkeley, California
  • Mariposa, California
  • Lee Vining, California
  • Livermore, California
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Cooperstown, New York
  • East Greenbush, New York
  • New York, New York
  • Westford, New York
  • Madison, Wisconsin
These are long-haul trains that I slept on; I'm not sure exactly how you'd count that. Lots of airplanes, too, but those are relatively boring and hopefully you don't interact with the landscape much:
  • Boston-Chicago (Lake Shore Limited)
  • Chicago-Seattle (Empire Builder)
  • San Francisco-Seattle (Coast Starlight)
  • Vancouver-Seattle (Cascades; wasn't an overnight but I needed it)
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
Earliest sunset in Boston this year (standard assumptions; your atmosphere may vary) is the 9th. In Seattle it's the 11th. (The days still get shorter, they're just shifting later faster than they get shorter.)

I'm not usually up at sunrise, so in practical terms for me it marks the return of the sun. (Really just knowing this makes me feel better; it's not like it's going to be changing noticeably fast for a while but I like knowing it's going in the right direction.)

On the other hand, if you are in Wellington, try not to do anything reckless with that 15 hours of sunlight. You might want to send me a few hours for safekeeping to keep yourself out of trouble. You can totally have some July mornings next year in return.
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
In the last few weeks I've had a whole bunch of crap going on (some of it rather closer to my life to other bits) that's been some combination of appalling, distressing, awful, and at the very least intensely distracting.

I'm not writing about any of that. I'm writing about this, which I didn't know about until a few minutes ago, because writing about relatively happy things is so much easier:

cover art of the new Diana Wynne Jones book

Diana Wynne Jones left behind a manuscript, since completed (apparently quite competently) by her sister, with the book published a few months ago. This seems to have been a happy surprise for more than just me, so I thought I'd warble about it, so there you go.

Also it has a cat on it.
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
Leaving aside existential angst for once, another way of answering "why are we here?":

Highly readable summary: http://www.voxeu.org/article/are-towns-stuck-wrong-places

Rather more dense paper: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/13112/paper684.pdf

The links on the first page are interesting, too, if you're interested in how cities and urban populations evolve, but you might find yourself wondering where the week went. (It's Thursday already?!)
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/03/nsl-found-unconstitutional/

Even the existence of National Security Letters bother the fuck out of me. I do not like secret government and secret law enforcement by secret police one damn bit. Happily I have never been served one, though I suspect at times it's been a near miss. Still, how would I even know?

http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/03/opinion-analysis-justices-reject-publishers-claims-in-gray-market-copyright-case/

That one is more wonkish, but with the direction the world is pointed, first sale doctrine is getting more and more important to just about everybody and anything that weakens is is a huge problem. (The concurrence points out what might be a saner path.)
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
11 January, MIT 32-123, 18:30. Topics loosely construed as craft-related. Five minutes and 20 slides per speaker. Free, though advance signup is in theory required:

http://www.commoncod.com/ignite/

I like these sorts of things. The people that sign up to talk at them seem to be really highly engaged and motivated, and almost anyone who's that engaged and motivated in what they're presenting on is interesting for at least five minutes.
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
I was going through some old knitting patterns and found an interesting article from the late 1940's on the back of one.

Some of the language is harsh and some of the embedded assumptions are problematic, but the overall attitude and especially the conclusions are surprisingly good and I find them a good reminder of "hey, wait, people's heads haven't always been completely up their asses!" (Actually, the lead-in text comes across as very harsh indeed, though I don't think that was the original intent.)
cut for size and ablist slurs )
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
Readercon had a problem with an attendee. I consider their reaction to the problem (http://readercon.livejournal.com/21805.html et seq) to be a related but new problem of their own making, and I'm somewhat cranky about it all.

On the other hand, some of the commentary there about the nature and behaviour patterns of harassers and abusers is more useful and insightful than vituperative, and if the Readercon BoD reads it and does some thinking it's possible something could be salvaged out of this.

Which is why I haven't actually posted this there:
not a cat macro... )
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
I'm culling possessions madly. Among the ejecta is a large batch of t-shirts of SF fandom and software companies. If you want to show your support for the likes of 95 in '95 or DIScon III, or just want a huge stack of ancient green (green) FTP Software shirts (Catch the Wind with Winsock 2!), I am willing to have them show up on your doorstep in finite but nondeterministic time, just let me know! (Note: you get all or none. Guaranteed to be mostly low-enthalpy, non-dark matter. Money back if not satisfied, but you still keep the shirts.)
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
I don't watch any TV news to speak of, rarely read newspapers, and only sporadically read online news, which overall means that to a large extent I could be considered to live under a rock. (I do however have a lot of very well-informed friends, and somehow manage to have some idea of what's what in the world.) Thus it surprises me that there are two stories I've seen in the news lately that I hadn't heard about socially first. (Or at least the Uzbekistan situation hasn't been in the news that I've noticed for several years.) Both of these come from the BBC because I generally like both their reporting and website layout, but you can read much the same and more elsewhere.

So, if you need more rage about reproductive rights, go read about Uzbekistan's public health policies. In particular go read about government quotas for doctors that lead to coerced or completely nonconsensual sterilization; the article is somewhat heavy-handed emotionally but given the content I'm already maxed out on the rage-o-meter:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17612550

By way of small disclaimer I should point out I've never been there, but from everything I've read, Uzbekistan, human-rights-wise, is a shining example of doing just about everything wrong. The problem is that it's not just "those people over there"; given some of the public debate in the US lately about whether we control our own bodies this hit way too close to home. I still, still hear people say things like "nobody would ever really do that" when there are a few thousand years of contrary historical examples, and now here's a nice current one too.

Next up is the latest round in the ongoing legal wrangling involving prostitution in Canada:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-17520140

I really like that the rhetoric here is all about protecting sex workers without turning it into some kind of bullshit morality play, though I'm sure I could find awfulness if I dug enough. The actual court decision is just so, so reasonable! I'm still really conflicted about the larger issues here, because my "consenting adults should be free to do whatever they want" impulses are warring with my observation of the larger coercive forces in society and the lack of real options that a whole lot of people have (context, as always, is key!), but I'm in any case pleased that this debate exists without having politicians falling all over themselves to bloviate in not-quite-but-almost-as-many-words about how the godless harlots are going to hell anyway so who cares?

There's a lot I like about the US, even still, but the larger political debate just gives me teh crankies. Grr.
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
I thought "mid-latitude Northern hemisphere sunset is earliest in early December" was one of those little oddities that most people knew, but based on a conversation elsewhere, maybe not. So: Hey! We get more light at the end of the day already! Yay! In particular for where y'all might be, the earliest sunset was the 11th in Seattle, the 9th in Boston, the 8th in New York, and not until today in Reykjavík. Y'all in Whangarei can just shut up already about the lovely spring weather.

While I have the traditional respect for the solstice, I'm also usually not someone who's awake to see the sunrise, so effectively that makes my shortest day in early December sometime. I don't really like the paucity of daylight this time of year, but even though we're only talking a minute or two either way knowing it's all downhill from here still gives me a kind of small existential happiness to get through the dark times.

(That I've also been up to see the dawn for the last couple of weeks is something I hope I don't start making a habit of! For me, seeing dawn is reliably equivalent to being chronically underslept, cranky, and generally miserable, and all this during a season that has enough stressors already.)
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
If you haven't heard any paypal horror story, I'm mildly surprised; I've heard a bunch, and seen firsthand just how randomly sucky they can be, but just in case it's news the latest episode of the one that's been making the rounds lately is here: http://www.regretsy.com/2011/12/06/sooner-or-later-youll-pay-pal/

I have a really annoying relationship with paypal. In some ways it's really useful, and on the face of it the service they offer is of fantastic utility and does things that really weren't possible before, but their management of same is the very essence of arbitrary and capricious, and once you do anything that's at all different from what everybody else is doing they're liable to freeze every asset within reach with no notice and with very little particularly meaningful oversight or recourse unless you can manage a bunch of negative publicity.

From where I sit, that entire last paragraph works just as well with "google" instead of "paypal". The assets, one might note, are electronic communications and social networks instead of money, which surely makes a difference, but either way it represents value and I don't find either company particularly trustworthy. While most people have always taken some care with their money it seems rather more popular to put one's entire online identity into rather more shaky online edifice instead.

Consider this, perhaps, an urging to occasionally contemplate the nature of one's business relationships, particularly those with large companies with complex and opaque motives.
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
One of the things that always feels a bit weird about visiting the southwest is the car culture. It's not as if my end of the country is free of it, but in southern California in particular most people drive a whole lot, and most of them seem to really bond with their cars and consider them an important part of their selves. Many of the retail services available are all about cars, the advertising is all cars cars cars, and the whole vehicular way of life seeps into one. (Or at least me.)

So, having just been there for a while, it was extra-weird to come home and then spend a whole bunch of today in a junkyard. Even here, sliding into the driver's seat of many of these cars is to put one's self into someone else's life in a small way. The dashboard toys, the pictures of loved ones, the stickers, even just the worn-shiny bits that tell you exactly where and how the previous owner sat and held the wheel, not to mention the side and shape of their backside. Sometimes they come with books, papers, employment badges, and the like, and the only assumption I can make is that the previous owner was in no condition to collect them before the insurance company declared it totaled and dragged it off into oblivion. (Or at least to the seedy backside of suburban industrial areas to be stacked two- or three-high and picked clean by the flightless vultures.)

While they still kind of annoy me, I have also come to more appreciate those roadside crosses that people put up as a memorial of loved ones. I've had the poor luck to have seen a couple of horrific crashes lately, and it's a kind of marvel how the cops and ambuances and tow trucks show up to pick up the pieces. When I pass the other way an hour later it's all swept up and gone, with nothing but perhaps a quickly-fading skid mark and a bump in the guardrail to note the spot. A week or two later the wreckage filters through the insurance yard and ends up in the mud, and there I sit next to the blood stains unscrewing some plastic interior widgets so my sun visor can be less floppy.

I didn't really have a point when I started writing this, but while in many ways I still like cars, and I think they're quite useful for utility and recreation, the degree to which modern American life is designed around them bugs the crap out of me.
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
Friday: I was having a cruddy morning, then I walked by (and stopped briefly to observe) someone sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car who was playing with a kitten in her lap. They were both having a ridiculously good time, and it was contagious.

Today: my morning was not as cruddy, but was still improved by my unplanned walk through Justin Herman Plaza at the same time as the goofy happiness of the launch of the local World Naked Bike Ride.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring...
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
Hey, pop culture (today in the form of NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me), I'll stop being humorless when you stop basing all of your humor on sexist stereotypes. Note however that taking some time out to switch to racist stereotypes doesn't particularly help.

I think that show in particular has actually gotten worse, but maybe I'm just noticing more. My understanding is that Peter Sagal writes all his own stuff, which argues for more consistency over time, but I could easily be wrong there.

Last night I was contemplating the same basic thesis vs. music, but that's a longer and sadder topic.
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
Someone I know (not that I remember who) wanted to know when the next class started at Tech Squares.

It's tonight, 8pm, at the MIT student center, 84 Mass. Ave. in Cambridge. (Parking on Albany St. usually works pretty well.)

More info is here: http://www.mit.edu/~tech-squares/

I enjoy it. It's quite unlike what I remember grade school "square dancing" to be. (For one, I enjoy it!)
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
I went and dusted the bin of matchbooks by the woodstove. I don't think we actually finish them much.

Yankee Candle
Thunderbird Lodge (Canyon de Chelly)
Balloon (?)
Shur-fine, The Brand you can count on. (capitalization theirs)
Zula Cafe and Restaurant (NYC. sigh.)
Uncle Pete's Hickory Ribs (East Boston, then Revere, then not. sniff.)
Amsterdam Cafe (NYC)
Stash Cafe (Montreal)
Pizzeria Due (Chicago)
Wildwood Motel (Shelburne, NS)
Hotel du Quai Voltaire (Paris)
Patout's (LA (both kinds!))
Madonna Inn (SLO)
Rickie's (NYC)
Sidewalkers' "Home of the Maryland 'Crab-Bash'" (NYC)
Kublai's (HK)
Papenaux (no idea, but it's really really fancy; maybe Montreal?)
Periwinkles (Essex)
the common man (NH)
Howard Johnson Plaza - Hotel
Peppermill (it mentions Reno, though I could swear it's from the restaurant in Las Vegas)
the old spaghetti factory (Vancouver)
Park Plaza (no, actually the one in Las Vegas)
Diva Indian Bistro (Somerville)
Chez Flamingo (Montreal)
Shiroi Hana (Philadelphia)
La Casa Del Zorro (Borrego Springs)

PS: Wikipedia has a "Defunct Restaurants of New York City" category! Who knew?
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
I enjoy taking and looking at photographs, both for documentary reasons and for their general aesthetic qualities ("art photography", more or less).

I also like film for some things, but I find the timeless debate (or is it just a wankfest?) about tradition vs. the artificial aesthetic of inconvenience, et cetera, somewhat tiresome, mostly because people seem to be so emotionally invested in one side or the other that they can't even start to discuss things rationally. (I can summarize the tradeoffs (as I see them!) in a comment if anyone's curious and not also already sick of the question.)

Arguwanking aside, and in a completely acknowledged bit of nostalgic wanking of my own (but also because everything was pretty and snow-covered and the light was really fantastic), I went out this afternoon and shot my last couple of rolls of Kodachrome.

Kodachrome is an amazing thing, really. It was the first really practical color reversal film, but in many ways has remained technically superior to its successors of the last 75 years. The role of film photography in the modern world is still shrinking rapidly, though, and there is only one place left in the world which develops it (the development process is horrid), and they're stopping as of Thursday.

It's also, by the way, the subject of a catchy Paul Simon song.
frotz: an unusually broad selection of cats (Default)
I've been thinking about anger a bunch lately, mostly triggered by knowing lots of people who spend a great deal of time angry at or about something-or-other.

I often get fleetingly irritated at something (and quite highly irritated at that, especially when reading about political stuff), but it never really sticks with me beyond perhaps a background sense of dissatisfaction about something. It's not that I don't do something about it, but I don't seethe.

The people who are always pissed off seem to get a lot of energy from it that spurs them to do things. (Sometimes great, sometimes at least constructive, sometimes destructive, sometimes channeled into other things completely. ("I cannot vote in this election. Therefore I will knit a sweater.")) It also often seems to leave them unhappy, stressed, sleepless, and in ill health.

Dunno where to go with that. To counter the oft-seen button, I think I'm paying attention, but I'm not usually outraged. Should I be?

(PS: sorry, I meant to start my dreamwidth wotsit with something light and fluffy, but this is what's on my mind. Here, have some lolcats.)
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