Spring

Apr. 6th, 2014 01:46 pm
sasha_feather: dog looking over a valley (dog and landscape)
I had a lovely day yesterday!

-Sorcha woke me up early so I did my laundry early
-Comics Club at the library
-Extra long walk at the dog park
-Repotted some plants because it was so nice out
-My roommate cooked dinner and we ate it outside. She is rarely both home and awake so it was nice to catch up with her. Also the food was delicious.
-Watched the Badger Basketball game
-Read most of "Boxers" by Gene Luen Yang
-Read a bit of fanfic

Today I am pretty tired, and it is really nice out. I will most certainly not be as productive but I'm hoping to enjoy the weather a bit.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Some things I've been reading:

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. Really enjoyed this! Some of the comics were emotional, so I read it in short bits. The one about the toy parrot made me laugh so hard I gave myself a coughing fit. Some of these I had read before on the web; some are new material. The comics about depression are in here, and may be difficult for some readers.

Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh. I hated this a lot. The art and colors are gorgeous but the story was not for me at all. I don't need to read about dysfunctional lesbian relationships where the people seem like unhappy liars and then one of them dies. This is a love story?

Stand Fast in your Enchantments by [personal profile] devildoll. I loved this Teen Wolf story a lot! I just started reading TWoof even though I don't watch the show much-- I've really been enjoying fanfic and looking for new things to read, and this is what my friends are into. This Derek/Stiles story is largely about communication. At first Derek can't speak because he's trapped in wolf form, and then later because he's just bad at talking about his feelings, or bad at talking, and I can relate to that a lot (it seemed like/reminded me of selective mutism). Luckily, Stiles is a very good problem solver. This fic also keeps going after the point where a lot of stories would end, and I loved that-- it deals with the consequences of a traumatic event in their lives, the fallout, and they really have to live with the complexities of being in a relationship. It's not easy for Stiles and Derek, and the ending is earned. Totally excellent.

Night Vale

Mar. 23rd, 2014 11:41 pm
sasha_feather: white woman in space suit (Astronaut)
I had a great time yesterday going to see Welcome to Night Vale in Chicago with a bunch of friends, old and new.

Seeing the show in a full theater was like nerd church-- a huge crowd of *our* people, feeling similar things along with us, all rapt attention. Well, that's what I imagine church might be like for people who are religious. Cecil had us shrieking, laughing, and gasping on cue, and also reflecting on life, death, and other mysterious subjects. Dylan Marron (Carlos) is the cutest person ever.

Today has been a total exhaustion and rest day for me. I slept most of the day.
sasha_feather: neat looking overcoat (coat)
Sorcha is still whining incessantly. I see from my journal that this has been going on for more than a month -- probably more like six weeks. I'm taking her back to the vet on Wednesday to get her thyroid levels checked.

Other things we've tried:
I moved my bed so she can see me better from my crate.
I turned a night light on overnight.
Sitting with her on the couch to watch TV and movies. Three feet away in my chair isn't close enough-- I have to be like, touching and petting her to stop her whining. And I can't type with her on the couch because she paws at the screen and keyboard.
Distracting with treats.
A thundershirt. (Had to take a break from the shirt today because I may have left it on too long yesterday.)

The worst is when I try to lie down for a nap and she won't let me sleep.

I posted on the Greyhound bulletin board-- run by the rescue group-- asking for advice. So far, no help.

She does not seem to be in pain, not that I can tell. She still runs hard at the park, some days, and still hops in and out of the car, walks fine, etc. It seems more like anxiety, but that strange thing it how it started relatively recently.

Any ideas??
sasha_feather: Simon Pegg from Hot Fuzz holding a gun looking tough (hot fuzz)
Yesterday when I came home, I saw some people I didn't know in the front yard, and one person sitting on the stoop in front of my apartment. This is a little odd but not totally out of the ordinary, and when I looked a little closer, it looked like one of the management people was showing an empty apartment in our building. It was an unusually nice day so they seemed to be lingering in the lawn and on the stoop. I took the dog out for a walk, and when I came home I noticed some garbage out on the stoop and went to clear it. There was an apple juice bottle and a pocket book on my window sill; I assumed these had both been left absent-mindedly by the people seeing the apartment.

I called the phone number I found in the wallet and left a message. When the woman called me back, she said that her wallet had been stolen from the Walgreens store down the street! I went over and returned it to her; the money and debit card were missing but at least she got her driver's license and a few other items back. She had already cancelled her card and filed a police report. She also lives in the neighborhood.

I call my managers, left a message, and talked to them this morning. The woman who showed the apartment was "Yeah, I'll keep that in mind if they send in an application, huh", and she's going to talk to her boss about it. Clearly she knows who the people are since she has their contact information and spoke to them.

Not that I would ever steal someone's wallet, but even I know that if you do that shit, you're supposed to drop it in the trash! Good luck renting an apartment now.
sasha_feather: Simon Pegg from Hot Fuzz holding a gun looking tough (hot fuzz)
The Queen of Versailles, documentary, streaming on Netflix.

As the film begins we see some filthy stinking rich people who are literally presented as royalty: the Seigels, time-share barons in Florida, who live in a mansion with their 8 kids. They are on top of the world and are building the country's largest house, a replica of the palace of Versailles. Jackie is almost 30 years younger than her husband David and appears to be a trophy wife, but she is presented with complexity and with some sympathy. David is not presented very sympathetically. About 30 minutes into the film, the 2008 recession happens and the family's business suffers. They can't complete the house; their Las Vegas venture is in trouble, and the family must cut back. (Even then, they say they are cutting back but they still live in their mansion, etc.)

There are many "OMG" moments in this film, like, you almost can't believe people can get so out of touch with reality. Neither of these people grew up rich but they've been corrupted by their money, so that it has almost become meaningless to them. The most stunning thing from my perspective is the way they treat their help; the maids and nannies are raising the kids, and sending money back to their own families, and living like paupers. Jackie is buying thousands of dollars worth of toys that her kids don't care about and the nanny is living in the kids' unused play house.

But Jackie is not a villain, and she's not stupid. It's more like she's living out a role that is expected of her, that of the wealthy trophy wife. She just doesn't look around and question it. For her, looks and things are the way she earns respect.

Anyway, it's a really thought provoking film.

thinking

Mar. 5th, 2014 03:35 pm
sasha_feather: a fox curled up around a rabbitt (fox and rabbit)
Wisdom from [personal profile] jesse_the_k (paraphrased, from last week):

"Sometimes people think that violence is the only way to get attention from the powerful. But the problem is, it brings the wrong kind of attention. Violence makes the powerful feel like victims and they can use it to justify their further actions." (ie their own further violence).

We also talked about how access is like a living organism, that you have to keep tending it so that it doesn't wither away and die. You can't do access for a group or event once and be done-- you have to keep doing it, keep tending that living organism.

These days I find activists to be the most inspiring people. For instance I found this obituary for civil rights activist Lee Lorch super fascinating. He was a math professor and involved in de-segregating housing. He was a white person who taught at a couple of historically black colleges; he kept getting fired or denied tenure at his jobs due to his activism. He seemed to have no regrets.
sasha_feather: dog looking over a valley (dog and landscape)
Last year we didn't need dog boots; but this year has been much colder.

The first pair we tried were the only ones in stock at a pet supply warehouse, and turned out to be a total piece of crap product. They were similar to this "fashion" boot and dissolved after one go-round at the park. (I did like the cord tightening design). I returned them for store credit.

Next we tried Muttluks. These do seem to be a good product, but they don't stay on Sorcha's feet. It's possible we have the wrong size, I suppose, but I think the real problem is just that she runs really hard at the park and they fly off. Plus she doesn't have much fur for the boot to grab onto (little friction). So we lost one boot within the first week; it's buried somewhere in the snow. I tried affixing rubber bands on but that still doesn't help. Some people recommended putting on vet wrap around her ankles before each trip to the dog park, which I haven't tried, because it seems like too much work.

Next I tried the rubber balloon style PAWZ. These are made to be disposable after a few uses, and they have to be since the dog's claws pierce the rubber. They offer a barrier to salt and water, but no insulation from the cold (and it's been seriously cold here). They take three hands to put on-- two to stretch the rubber and hold the boot, one to hold and position the dog's paw. They also come off when my dog runs. The package of 12 didn't last all that long, and to keep buying them all winter is not a good financial choice for me.

Next, at the recommendation of my local independent pet product seller, I bought some "Ultra Paws" boots. These are "guaranteed to stay on" (I'm skeptical). They are much easier to put on, and probably would work well for most dogs. However, my dog, a greyhound, has really high toes. I tried them just on her back feet today and after a pretty long run/walk at the park, she had scraped bloody her two middle back toes from rubbing them on the boots. I plan on returning them.

I would rate the Muttluks highest out of all of these, but I am still unsatisfied and am unsure how to protect my dog's feet from the cold. I know that Greyhound-specific products exist, and I may try those.
sasha_feather: a fox curled up around a rabbitt (fox and rabbit)
By lucky timing, Sorcha and I happened to be at Mounds pet store when the Greyhound rescue folks came in to table and do a meet and greet. So, we stood for a while and were breed ambassadors with two other greyhounds. People admired her scarf and very soft fur.

Later I went to comics club and had a very nice time.
sasha_feather: Avatar Kyoshi from avatar: the last airbender cartoon (Lady avatar)
My Kobo decided to start working again. Yay! I've been reading a lot of fic of the "Live Free or Die Hard" fandom variety.

Saw the Lego movie today and enjoyed it.

A few things I've been enjoying during this long, cold, lonely winter:

I can Has Cheezburger Feed for cute and silly pictures and videos of animals.

Humans of New York (which is a Tumblr, but you can also subscribe to on FB). Portraits of people with quotes attached. Super awesome. There's also a book which I bought for my parents.
sasha_feather: ken watanbe with a horse and dog (ken wantanbe with pets)
Tough couple of days for the dog! Right now it is thundering which is so unfair and scary! She is pacing around whining.

Yesterday at the park, another dog knocked her down and she fell on the hard-packed snow. I thought she was fine but later saw that she had a huge, horrible-looking red bruise on her belly. I took a picture this morning. Squick warning. http://www.flickr.com/photos/sasha_feather/12659091483/
sasha_feather: Toph and Katara from avatar: the last airbender cartoon (Toph and Katara)
I recently finished 3 YA novels-- pretty darn good for me since I hardly ever read novels any more!

Inheritance by Malinda Lo. Not as good as the first book (Adaptation). This book couldn't quite decide if it wanted to be a relationship book or a thriller, and so the pacing felt off. It went slow, slow, slow, SUPER FAST, and then a whole bunch of fascinating stuff was packed into the afterward. I personally found the relationship stuff a bit boring, with the exception of Reese's friendship with Julian, which was an awesome queer friendship and very realistic. I liked the fast pace of the first book, and this time around I kept wondering where the story was going.

I appreciate this book for political reasons-- ie representation-- because the types of relationships portrayed here are just not seen very often in Sf/F or mainstream literature. Lo does really well with race, orientation and gender, and types of relationships. There was one use of "so OCD" language in this book which surprised me, and another instance where a person with a body difference (a deformed arm) was seen as being horrible. So, not the best on disability, which was disappointing since the first book had some cool embodiment things going on (Reese's body changing without her knowing what was going on, etc).

Overall, just kinda "meh" on this book. :/

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gibert Murdoch

Set in rural Wisconsin, this book is about DJ, who is running her family's dairy farm more or less by herself, because her dad is temporarily disabled. Her younger brother (who almost never talks) is her only help. This summer, quarterback Brian Nelson comes to the farm to help out and to "learn how to work".

The strength of this book is DJ's voice, the realism of the setting and people, and how DJ changes over time. She makes assumptions and mistakes, and she needs to learn to connect with people and talk about her problems. I really enjoyed this book, despite the football theme!

There is one scene of homophobia in the book. It didn't bother me much due to context-- ie, Reese is a dumb kid who has learned stupid messages, and that's what's being presented-- but it might bother other readers.

Half-World by Hiromi Goto

A beautiful, creepy tale about a 14-year-old girl, Melanie, who must venture into the Half-World, a place where the dead try to work out their traumas before they can join the spirit realm, in order to rescue her mother. She is tasked with trying to restore balance to the realms. I liked this story's focus on how one is only responsible for one's own choices, and how Melanie ultimately solves problems using courage and kindness. Melanie's guides are older women. Recommended.

doggie!

Feb. 14th, 2014 06:02 pm
sasha_feather: dog looking over a valley (dog and landscape)
I took Sorcha to the vet this week because she's been whining more than usual, especially in the evening and at night. She was keeping me up and waking me up with her whining, and also refusing to hop up into the car, which is unusual. I saw a new vet whom I liked much better than the previous two-- this one is not nearly so alarmist or in favor of intervention. She gave Sorcha some pain pills which seem to be helping, and then today called and said it could be due to a bit of hypothyroidism, which is treatable. She is the first person to call Sorcha's weight "perfect", rather than saying she's underweight. All in all, pretty good.
sasha_feather: white woman in space suit (Astronaut)
The Sapphires

This absolutely delightful film focuses on 4 women who form a soul singing group in the 1960s. They are Aboriginal Australians-- 3 sisters and a cousin-- who travel to Vietnam to entertain the troops and make money. Their manager is the white guy from the IT Crowd. Great to watch if you like ladies, music, singing, and movies that don't focus on white people. Content notes: overt racism, discussion of awful racist Australian policies towards native peoples, and some war violence. Has captions. Based on a true story.

I'm sure there are other things I've enjoyed watching lately but I need lunch!
sasha_feather: Steam punk goggles (Steam punk goggles)
Europa Report. 2013, 90 minutes.

This tense SF film is done in documentary style, about a troubled mission to Jupiter's moon Europa. I liked it quite a lot! It moves back and forth in time, contains "interviews" with mission planners and astronauts, and keeps you wondering until the end. It's one of these movies that has a fairly simple idea and does it well. A bit scary at times. Recommended.

The Bletchley Circle

I highly recommend this mini-series even though is about tracking down a serial killer. The heroine of the tale is a housewife who was a code-breaker / analyst during WWII, and now after the war she solves puzzles as a hobby. When she starts to investigate a spate of killings, she gets the band back together (3 more women) to help her. They use math and complex data analysis to try and catch the killer; one of them has a photographic memory. They do all this without the police's help, and their partners/husbands don't support them either. It's a brilliant show.
sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
I am watching "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" on Netflix --as many people are-- and I mostly love it. I am nearly done with Season 1. Phryne Fisher is amazing in so many ways. I think it was on [personal profile] meganbmoore's journal that I read her described as a James-Bond like character-- wealthy, always well-dressed, super-competent, etc-- a female fantasy role. She sleeps with many different men, helps educate young women, is open-minded, and delivers some great lines. She handles herself well in complex social situations as well as bloody, dangerous ones. I like the developing backstory and the arcs for the various characters.

The show itself does a nice job balancing serious situations with an overall lightness in tone. I appreciate that it takes on issues such as abortion, worker's rights, the lives of immigrants, and gay people living under the radar.

What I mainly dislike is that every episode is a murder mystery, as it says in the title. In some episodes, multiple people are killed, and one starts to wonder about the murder rate in Melbourne in the 1920s. As a private detective, Phryne would be much more likely to take cases that weren't murder, so I'm not sure why the show needs to be about murder (I do realize it's based upon books, so perhaps my real criticism lies there). (This is one issue where I agree with my mother: there is too much murder on TV, and I'm simply getting tired of it; perhaps I need to watch other types of shows.)

Also, the specific cases are sometimes a problem:
here be spoilers )
sasha_feather: Max from Dark Angel (Max from Dark Angel)
Warrior. 2011, PG-13. Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Morrison, Nick Nolte.

I went in with low expectations (I am not a sports or fighting fan) but I ended up loving this movie. It has a lot of emotions in it and tells its story well. Tom Hardy plays Tommy, a laconic former Marine who returns home to visit his alcoholic father in order to ask his dad to train him to get back in the ring. Meanwhile, his estranged brother, Brendan, needs money to save his house from foreclosure and decides to return to MMA fighting. This decision gets him suspended from his job as a high school teacher, and so he trains full time for a big upcoming fight. Naturally, the two brothers are going to end up at the same fight. Little bits of back story are revealed through out and the acting is good. It wasn't as violent as I expected, because it focuses on technique and emotions rather than brutality. It was just a solidly well-done movie and I loved it!!

North and South. British miniseries.

This adaptation had a "Jane Eyre" feel to me, except it's in a Mill Town rather than a manor. I liked how Margaret's ideas about places and people change. She has a complex relationship with an owner of one of the mills, who is a friend of her father. Margaret is an outspoken and compassionate person who seems fundamentally normal, and very relatable. Recommended.
sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
Occasionally I wonder if maybe I *am* the language police! Maybe I *am* too sensitive and it's not my job to tell other people how to talk or write, etc.

A few things reassure me.

One, lots of other people pay just as close attention to language and its political uses as I do, and some of these people blog about it. Some people blog about things I've never thought about, so maybe the things I notice are worth writing about.

For example:
Dave Hingsburger: Non-traditional doesn't mean unimportant.

The term I use, I insist that others use when they are speaking with me about someone they support is: non-traditional communicator. (As opposed to "non-verbal".)

Lydia Brown: Why the term 'psychopath' is racist and ableist. (Note: this post contains some upsetting language.)

Antisocial Personality Disorder, the diagnostic category that comes closest to approximating the lay definition of psychopathy, is most often a tool for criminalizing poverty, blackness and brownness, and disability. It is the diagnostic label that legitimizes non-compliance as a mental health problem.

---

Two, I find language and its uses fascinating. I will think about it anyway, so I might as well write about it.

Three, there are some phrases I use that make sense to me because not only do they seem like more accurate metaphors, they make the world a little kinder to live in.

For instance, when we speak of "lowering barriers" or obstacles, that seems kinder and easier than "overcoming obstacles". Lowering barriers is a group effort, a structural accomplishment that is done by many and benefits many. It agrees with the idea of the social model of disability. Overcoming obstacles might take teamwork, but it tends to focus on one person's drive, ambition, and success, and falls in line with the "supercrip" stereotype.

The same is true of interdependence vs. independence.

Language is subtle and it influences the way we think about ourselves and our world.
sasha_feather: white woman in space suit (Astronaut)
[personal profile] holyoutlaw asked: what are your optimistic dreams for the future, from your hoped-for life span through a few years after?

I think it's harder to be realistically optimistic than pessimistic, which is why I ask this.


I've been thinking about this and having a hard time with it, so I'm going to be unrealistically optimistic.

For myself:
My health will improve dramatically.
I'll become much more financially secure.
I'll figure out what I want regarding relationships, work, and my life in general! Magically things will just kind of work out! I will live close to nature but also close to my friends, in a charmed and happy life; a life filled with service to others.

For the world:
Suddenly humanity figures its shit out! We enter a golden age of peace, justice, creativity and problem solving. We work on healing the planet and ourselves. Art and research thrive.
Health care is free.
We send missions to Mars.
People can sleep as much as they want, if they want to.
No one lives in poverty.
In no country or place on Earth is it illegal to be queer, brown, or an immigrant.
Violence? What violence?
Negative carbon impact, clean water, etc.
Universal access for PWD for all public buildings!
No more kyriarchy!

How's that. Let's get started!

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sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
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