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Jul. 25th, 2017

settiai: (Blue Beetle/Booster Gold -- dreadable)

[personal profile] settiai

FedEx: A Dramatic Tale

As I've mentioned in the past, I tend to have trouble whenever I pay FedEx extra for an evening delivery (between 5-8pm). Unfortunately, if I order anything that needs a signature, that's my only option as I'm not home to sign for packages earlier than 5pm. So requesting evening delivery is the only way for me to actually get what I order, since they won't deliver after 5pm unless you pay extra.

Cut to the last week of June. I ordered two packages that were scheduled to be delivered on Thursday, and I paid for evening delivery. As has happened several times in the past, the packages never showed up as being on the truck to be delivered. So around 7pm or so I called customer service and started a paper trail, as well as started livetweeting the whole story on Twitter.

FedEx managed to get in touch with the local facility, who told them the package was out for delivery. The driver just hadn't scanned it when he left. ("Uh-huh," I told the poor customer service rep with more than a little skepticism.) This gets a bit long, but it's honestly a rather amusing story. In retrospect, at least. It wasn't so amusing at the time. )

... and that's why I will never again order from any company that only offers FedEx as a shipping option.
havocthecat: belly dancers with zils in a circle (hobbies belly dance)

[personal profile] havocthecat

You can take my body positivity and CHOKE ON IT, because you're not getting my money.

Sometimes you look at a belly dance clothing vendor, admiring the beautiful clothing and considering a purchase because you need a new pair of pants (well, "need" is such a strong word, but "budgeting for a vanity purchase" is longer), but you notice some things:

You say to yourself, "Huh. All those models are really, really, REALLY thin."

REALLY thin.

You notice there are a couple of pictures of slender non-model dancers, and that's pretty cool, and a troupe of slender-to-average non-model dancers, and that's also cool.

Then you keep scrolling down and see that picture of the one non-model dancer wearing their clothes who might be considered larger-than-average has been cut off at the chest. You pause. You click. You see she's got a belly.

She's not fat. She's not plus-sized. Just larger-than-average. With a beautiful stomach, but one that's a little bit bigger than any of the other pictures that are actually visible on the site.

There aren't any plus-sized belly dancers on this site either. AT ALL. Which is weird. Because there are plenty of plus-sized belly dancers who are happy to buy dance wear. Especially custom-made dance wear.

That's when you realize that this clothing vendor doesn't want lardasses like you sullying their goods with your impure body.

So you close the tab and remember the name of the vendor, because you won't sully their bank account with your fat-stained money either.

(Edit: I don't have to add an "ALL body types are beautiful" disclaimer, do I? Or mention that the issue isn't that there are thin models, but that the one person on the largest size of the bell curve was CUT OFF below her chest in the picture. Let's face it, belly dance is a hobby where most of your customers aren't going to be model-thin.)
bluemeridian: (WW :: No Man's Land)

[personal profile] bluemeridian

Recs! Humor and Heartbreak

I spent a good bit of time last Saturday writing this rec list up in Semagic. Sunday morning I did a last sweep and some final edits before calling it complete. Then opened a new file that I made some changes to and hit save-- which promptly saved over top of my completed rec list. Semagic has a weird save quirk that makes this possible when hopping between different files but I never remember that when I need to and I'll let you imgaine the swearing and clawing at face that proceeded, especially after I tried an immediate salvage of the file autosave and failed. So I then spent a good chunk of Sunday rewriting it from the scraps of memory. This time in Notepad ++ as all future posts will be drafted. *glares at Semagic icon*

ANYWAY, before all that excitement, when I first called up my rec tag shortlist, I realized I had over a dozen that were either Avengers/Captain America or Wonder Woman related (or, in one case, both), so I decided to run with those and give them their own list. These are heavy on the Steve, Bucky, and Diana, not surprisingly, along with two from Antiope's POV. They also feature significant appearances by Peggy, Tony, Pepper, Pietro, Wanda, Steve [Trevor], Donna Noble, and Bruce Wayne. Mostly fics as usual but one exceptional vid and a serendipitous art experiment also made their way in. There's 14 recs all together and the rec notes were written in order but you can, of course, pick and choose as you like. <3

ETA: The first couple of recs had a missing div coding error so they looked like one rec with the wrong title/link/author. That's been fixed now. :)

Onward to the Recs! )
fignewton: (humor)

[personal profile] fignewton

We interrupt this episode for a very important announcement

Ahem.

I never mention RL issues here, but...

EEEEEEE I BECAME A GRANDMA FOR THE FIRST TIME YESTERDAY

What an amazing, incredible blessing this is. My new granddaughter is beautiful. My daughter is a trooper. My son-in-law is utterly besotted. Quite frankly, so am I. :D

We now return you to your regularly scheduled SG-1 fannishness.

Jul. 24th, 2017

settiai: (Liara -- bleeding_muse)

[personal profile] settiai

A fannish update...

Now that I've talked about real life a bit, I guess it's time for a bit of a fandom-related update. I'm not watching a lot of television lately, and the handful of shows that I am watching tend to be webseries rather than more traditional series. We'll see if that changes in the coming months?

I finally was able to start playing Mass Effect: Andromeda and have fallen back in love with the whole ME universe. I know a lot of people didn't like ME:A, but I really loved it. It's not my favorite game (that's still ME2), but I do think it might have moved to the #2 spot on my list. Could it have been better? Sure. But that doesn't mean I don't love it (and the characters) any less.

On a somewhat related note, I still love Dragon Age. I haven't been playing it as much lately, since ME has been taking up so much of my time, but I've gone back to working on fic. Which is a good thing, because DA is one of those rare fandoms that makes me want to write longfic. Even though I kind of suck at writing longfic and take forever to finish stories that are more than 5000 words.

I've also continued with my Critical Role obsession, to the surprise of nobody. The current storyline is slowly drawing to a close, and I'm expecting Vox Machina's tale to come to a close by the end of the year. Which makes me sad, since I love the characters. But on the other hand, a new story! With new characters! My chances of convincing people to start watching will greatly increase when they don't have 400+ hours to watch in order to get caught up.

Speaking of which, Dungeons & Dragons continues to eat a lot of my free time. I have two weekly games that I play in online via Roll20, one on Friday nights and one on Sunday nights. Then I have another Roll20 game on Saturday nights where I'm the DM. And then, because I have no sense of self-preservation, every other Sunday afternoon I walk over to the gaming store near my apartment to play in another campaign.

So, basically, every other week? I play four D&D games in a little over 48 hours. And even when I'm not cramming four games in, I'm still playing three. Which isn't much better.

Oops?

Um, let's see. What other fannish things should I talk about?

Geek and Sundry and Alpha are behind most of the webseries that I'm watching nowadays. There's Critical Role, of course, which I've already mentioned. Then there's Eric's TBD RPG, an awesome Doctor Who RPG that just recently came to an end and was replaced with Shield of Tomorrow, a Star Trek RPG. Oh, and Sagas of Sundry which is just... gods, it's hard to describe. It's creepy and amazing and I highly recommend it.

I'm not watching Vast yet (another one of their RPGs), but I've heard good things about it. It's definitely on my list, whenever I have free time again. (I also watch The Wednesday Club, but it's a bunch of geeks sitting around and talking about comics for two hours each week rather someone I'm particularly fannish about. It's a lot of fun if you like comics, though.)

Based on the recent Doctor Who casting news, I'm cautiously optimistic that I might be able to start watching regularly again. I managed to watch some of the episodes from this most recent series but not all of them. Still, the ones that I was able to watch reminded me just how much I miss this show. I really hope that, once Moffat is gone, it will feel more like Doctor Who to me again.

The upcoming fourth and final season of Star Wars: Rebels has me both excited and terrified. I want to see what happens, but at the same time... well, it's Star Wars. I know going in that there was a good chance a lot of the characters wouldn't actually live through the show. The question is this: who and how?

I really need to start thinking about Yuletide and what fandoms I want to nominate this year, since it's coming up fast. This might be the first time in years that I haven't even started thinking about it yet, though. That will deserve its own post in a few weeks, when I try to start brainstorming.
settiai: (Cass -- shoemoney2night)

[personal profile] settiai

A long overdue RL update...

So, yes, I'm still alive. Life in general has been busy lately, and the little bit of spare time I've had has been taken up by D&D and Mass Effect: Andromeda. Oops?

Work has been ridiculous lately. It's not really something that I can talk about in detail, but there's definitely quite a bit of tension between the higher ups and, well, a large percentage of the employees who aren't being paid six figures annually. Let's just say that the amount of work expected of most employees has gone up while salaries haven't (except for the higher ups, who magically were able to get raises when people making significantly less than them weren't), and I'm very worried the directors are going to find out first-hand just how screwed they are if a large number of people all turn in their notice and walk.

Mainly because I'm not in a position where I can afford to do that, no matter how much I might want to sometimes. Which means I'll also be somewhat screwed if anyone turns in their notice.

Add in the aforementioned extra work and the fact that several people have been out for health-related reasons, meaning our workload is even heavier, and... well, needless to say, it's not been fun.

Let's see... I should probably talk about the cats, huh?

Garrus and Percy are getting along surprisingly well. The first few weeks were a bit rocky, but once they got used to each other (and realized just how similar they are), things became a lot smoother. They're at the point where they're regularly grooming each other and sleeping just a few inches apart, which is a lot better than I was hoping for after less than two months.

I still miss Tali a lot, obviously, but the fact that Garrus and Percy are getting along so well is definitely helping. Percy is a doll, and I'm already at the point where I can't imagine him not being here. I just, you know, sometimes wish that I could have had all three of them, even though the realistic side of my brain knows that I never would have met him if I hadn't lost her.

VividCon is next week, which... I have complicated feelings about. Brain weasels! Aren't they fun? )

Anyway, I'm hoping that my brain weasels will go away once I'm actually in Chicago. At the moment, though, I'm not nearly as excited about the con being next week as I usually am by this point. Which makes me sad. Hopefully that will change somewhat over the next week-and-a-half?

... oh, I just realized that I never posted about my week of hell with FedEx here on Dreamwidth. I should rectify that. I want to make a separate fandom-related post first, and then I'll post the whole terrifying tale.

Jul. 23rd, 2017

rydra_wong: Doonesbury, Watergate, two congressmen: &quot;If only he&#39;d knock over a bank or something ...&quot; &quot;By George, we&#39;d have him them!&quot; (bank -- watergate)

[personal profile] rydra_wong

Everything's happening very fast again

So Sean Spicer's resigned (we all knew it was coming), Sessions discussed the Trump campaign and policy issues with Kisylak in 2016, and Trump looks like he's revving up to fire Mueller and Sessions and then pardon himself and his family for everything they've done ever.

And all I can focus on is this story that Sean Spicer stole a mini-fridge from junior White House staffers.

Jul. 21st, 2017

havocthecat: the lady of shalott (Default)

[personal profile] havocthecat

Pixar has free storytelling guides on Khan Academy

For anyone who might be interested, Pixar has Pixar in a Box on Khan Academy.

It's primarily directed at film writing, but I think it can be used for all types of narrative storytelling. I've been listening to The Art of Storytelling video series.

It starts out with "We are all storytellers," (I'm there still) which I think is an admirable point and has a number of their creators talking about their amateur efforts and how they got started, like Betty and Veronica fashion fanart. :)

It leads to characterization and story structure, and while I don't know that visual language is going to be terribly helpful to us print writers, it might give good ideas for descriptions of scenery to go around dialogue. There are also lessons and activities that you can do, should you choose.

(I can't find closed captions on Khan Academy, though. That's my one quibble thus far.)

One of my favorite pieces of writing advice is still this graphic: Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling.

No, I'm not saying they have to be YOUR rules too. I'm just saying I find the list as a useful set of way to help me go through one of my stories and figure out what's not working and what I need to do to make it work. Or sometimes, for me to just let go and stopy worrying at something, and maybe come back to it later.

Jul. 20th, 2017

grav_ity: (books)

[personal profile] grav_ity

Book #47: Sovereign, by April Danvers

This book comes out next Tuesday, and is the follow up to Danvers' book last year, called DREADNOUGHT, about a trans superhero in a future, but recognizable, world.

OMG, I LOVED IT. It was funny and engaging and heartbreaking and good. It contains possibly my favourite line in any superhero story ever. It manages to pick at the awkward spots in superhero stories without making you feel bad for liking them. I love all of the characters.

Highly, highly recommend this book (and the first one!). They are more hard proof that we don't have Superhero Fatigue, we have Straight White Dude Fatigue.
taselby: (Manjuice (tall))

[personal profile] taselby

Drink Recipe: Barley Twilsley

This is a refreshing, nutritious, non-alcoholic drink that's a favorite of my daughter and me. I have a pitcher in my refrigerator right now!

Barley Twilsley

2 1/4 -2 1/2 quarts water (you want 2 quarts left after cooking)
1 cup pearl barley
3 lemons
1/3 cup honey

Put the water and barley in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 min.

While the barley is cooking, peel the lemons, being careful not to cut into the white part (the pith). You just want the yellow outer part. Juice the peeled lemons. Put the peels, juice, and honey into a 2 quart pitcher.

When the barley is done cooking, carefully pour the water through a sieve or strainer into the pitcher. Save the barley for other uses! Stir, and chill overnight. Lemony, lightly sweet, and entirely delicious!

Other uses for the barley: use in yogurt in place of granola, make barley and mushrooms (I cut that one down a bit, use 1 onion, 8oz mushrooms, and 2 cups cooked barley), or beef-with-barley soup. It's a great, nutty substitute for rice.

Makes about 2 quarts

1/2 kids approve!

Jul. 19th, 2017

grav_ity: (books)

[personal profile] grav_ity

Book #46: Moxie, by Jen Mathieu

(still sick. v. annoyed about it.)

ANYWAY, so Moxie is a book about a girl whose mother used to be a rebel of sorts, until her dad died, and she moved back to her hometown to raise her baby daughter. Now Vivian, 16, keeps her mother's keepsakes to help her through bad days...and there are quite a few bad days, because her high school is something of a disaster.

MOXIE, in this case, is the name of anonymous zine that Viv starts to draw attention to the sexist boys and teachers at the school. It's mostly low-key protesting until someone anonymously submits a poster that says the captain of the football team tried to rape her at a party, and the principal (the captain's dad) covered it up.

This book was really good. It's kind of like a manual, but not boring. It teaches girls how to be smart and brave. It levels up constantly. And, somehow, it's even aware of its own whiteness. All without being precious or preachy. It's just really, really good. I highly recommend it.
havocthecat: the lady of shalott (Default)

[personal profile] havocthecat

Anyone want to talk about writing projects?

ETA: Logged out and gone to sleep. Good night, all!

I'm going to be trying to figure out what city I should be setting my urban fantasy in. (Or at least, what it should be an analogue to, geography-wise.)

I'll be on Discord for a couple of hours, if anyone wants to join me:

https://discord.gg/w9PK3Yg

(This time I'll remember to edit the post to say when I log off Discord!)
rydra_wong: Doonesbury, Watergate, two congressmen: &quot;If only he&#39;d knock over a bank or something ...&quot; &quot;By George, we&#39;d have him them!&quot; (bank -- watergate)

[personal profile] rydra_wong

Honestly, "Trump unsupervised" is scary enough before you add "conversation with Putin"

The Guardian: Trump had undisclosed second meeting with Putin, White House confirms

New York Times: Trump and Putin Held a Second, Undisclosed, Private Conversation

Note: it was "private" as in "out of earshot of anyone except Putin's translator" and "not mentioned to the public". It was not private as in "it was held in view of most of the other G20 leaders OMFG ARE YOU KIDDING ME".

Just to make the whole thing even stupider (on Buttercup's part) and more of a blatant power play (on Putin's).

[tumblr.com profile] plaidadder breaks this shit down: A Million Encores: Putin And our Playable President

And spells out one point in particular:

Why do we know about this? Because some of the European G-20 leaders were so concerned about this that they called their global risk consultant to get his opinion on it. That’s what Ian Bremmer does: he assesses global political risk for people who want to use it to make investment decisions.

Jul. 18th, 2017

taselby: (Food: apple)

[personal profile] taselby

Drink Recipe: Cranapple Martini

If Snow White's stepmother had offered me this, I'd be a goner. This makes a lovely, sweet-tart, rose colored martini. A personal favorite.

[hopefully a pic will go here]

Cranapple Martini

Makes two, because sharing is caring!

2oz vodka (I use Costco Kirkland brand American vodka)
2oz apple vodka (I use Skyy Honeycrisp Apple)
2oz Sour Apple Pucker
2oz cranberry juice cocktail

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake and serve.
Can also be served on the rocks, but why?

I really need martini glasses, if only for the pics. :)

Jul. 17th, 2017

taselby: (Food: pomegranate)

[personal profile] taselby

Recipes for the Cooking Impaired: Zighini Beef Stew

link to original recipe at Food52

This is a blatant tweak of a recipe at Food52 -- see link. So, I wandered into this blind. I've only had Ethiopian cuisine once, and had thought the spiciness was a quirk of the restaurant rather than something endemic to the dishes themselves. I had no idea what berbere spice was, and had to order it online (Amazon has a jar for about US$3). But the recipe looked simple enough, and even if I didn't like it, it wasn't a huge investment.

Warning: this is hella fucking spicy, like weaponized spice. BUT! It makes the house smell amazing. It's also super delicious and satisfying, and the heat calms down somewhat the next day (the flavors develop more, too! Yum!), but right out of the pan it was right up to the edge of what I could handle. Please note that I live in a highly Latinx area, and routinely eat spicy traditional Mexican dishes and salsas.

Next time I'll probably toss in some carrots and potato chunks.

USE AN OVENPROOF PAN WITH A LID!

Zighini Beef Stew - this is a one-pan dish, but it will take some time: ~2 to 2.5 hours depending on how fast you are at prep

1 lb beef stew meat in 1" cubes (recipe calls for boneless short ribs, but they're expensive, and the regular stew meat was fine)
salt & pepper
olive oil or other neutral cooking oil
1 onion, about the size of a baseball, chopped
3 Tbsp berbere spice (half this if you don't like the super-spicy)
16oz canned tomato sauce

Preheat your oven to 350*. Coat the bottom of a heavy pot with oil and heat over med-high heat on the stovetop.

Season the beef with a little salt and pepper, and brown the beef in small batches in the oil. The browning gives a nice flavor to the stew. Move the browned beef to a bowl, but do not clean out the pan. Reduce the heat to medium.

Add a little more oil if you need to, and put the onion in the pan, scraping up all the tasty stuck bits in the bottom. Saute the onion until it's translucent, about 10 min. Take your time with this, really.

Add the berbere spice and stir. Cook about 1 min. Stir in the beef and it's juices, the tomato sauce, another pinch of salt, and 2 cups of water.

Bring to a boil, cover, and place the covered pot in the oven to keep cooking. Cook until the meat is tender and the stew is thick, about 1.5 hours.

NOTE: I needed to cook mine for closer to 2 hours, and it still wasn't what I'd call "thick." This is where personal taste comes in. Check it often, and listen to your gut.

Serves: recipe claims 4, but probably closer to 2 or 3
Sides: I served it with rice. (Bread, mild veggies, plain yogurt, cucumber -- these would also be good)
Drinks: Something cold and fruity! Peach tea or raspberry lemonade

1/1 kid approved, but begged for milk! (1 kid was out of town)

havocthecat: polly (red-haired geek with glasses) and celia (blonde loner) of st. trinian&#39;s (st trinians polly/celia)

[personal profile] havocthecat

Doctor Who (and St. Trinian's)

The best part of the Doctor Who casting announcement is that it opens up EVEN MORE amazing possibilities for horrifyingly beautiful St. Trinian's crossovers.

"Oh, Beverly!" called Miss Fritton from her office, leaning over and waving one hand. Beverly could see one her out of the corner of one eye.

"Yeah, miss!"

"What's that little knobbly thingummy you're pointing at the door?"

"It's a sonic screwdriver, miss!"

"What's it for?"

"Nothing, miss!" There was Dalek invasion and the First Years were busy lobbing explosives from the tower while Beverly - the Doctor, really, but she'd been undercover for years and thought of herself as Beverly still - remodulated the alarm system to broadcast a frequency that would short-circuit their disruptor beams. The Daleks, not the First Years.

Though Beverly privately thought the First Years infinitely more dangerous to let loose upon the human race than the Daleks, but she did have standards after all, and centuries of enmity with the Daleks to uphold.

"So what you're saying," said Miss Fritton, appearing in her doorway with an empty bottle of vodka in one hand, "is that we're out of vodka and you forgot to stock up, is that it?"

"Get the gin, miss," said Beverly, holding back a sigh.

Jul. 16th, 2017

havocthecat: the lady of shalott (Default)

[personal profile] havocthecat

More Google fuckery, this time of the "associating ads with your name" variety.

https://www.propublica.org/article/google-has-quietly-dropped-ban-on-personally-identifiable-web-tracking

At the bottom of the article, there are instructions on how to opt out.
sixbeforelunch: movie era spock giving the ta&#39;al salute, text reads, &quot;live long and prosper&quot; (trek - movie era spock)

[personal profile] sixbeforelunch

virtual garage sale

So it appears that I'm going to be moving again in about two months. I'll save the whys and wherefores for another time, but in order to clear out things I don't feel like moving, and raise moving funds, I'm holding a virtual garage sale. If you're interested in any of the books of DVDs below, comment or PM me.

Marvel comics, literary criticism, and more. )

I am willing to negotiate on everything except the Stargate DVDs, which I have sentimental attachment to and for some reason am willing to part with, but only if they all go out together. Shipping is free in the US. I will send everything USPS Media Mail. If you're outside of the US, we can probably come to an arrangement.

Jul. 15th, 2017

rydra_wong: Text: &quot;Your body is a battleground&quot; over photo of 19th-C strongwoman. (body -- battleground)

[personal profile] rydra_wong

So yeah, got scurvy again

For the sake of pedantic clarity: much as I like saying that, I don't actually have scurvy -- quite.

I do presently have plasma vitamin C levels which (Google tells me) would qualify me for a scurvy diagnosis if I was showing any particular symptoms. Which I'm not, beyond my usual levels of fatigue and physical crud (there's stuff -- flare-up of an old injury, etc. -- which, with hindsight I could construe as maybe related somehow, but basically I'm very well, and said stuff would not have made me suspect that anything was wrong). Possibly I'd get symptoms if I let the deficiency run on longer, but that's an experiment I am disinclined to try.

N.B.: this is on an intake of fruit and veg which should easily supply far more than the RDA from diet alone, plus supplementation of a gramme of vitamin C a day.

Which is absurd mega-dose levels.

It used to be two grammes, as that's what it took to drag my blood levels back into the normal range when this showed up on test results before; this past year I suggested tapering down to half-as-ridiculous and monitoring my blood levels to see if they stayed okay. Which they did, at least until last autumn.

Then I was getting a blood test for something else completely, my GP suggested checking my vitamin C levels, and boom, they have fallen through the floor again.

So now, back to double-ridiculous doses and waiting to re-test.

My medical Google-fu is usually pretty good, but it's failed me so far on this. I've asked my doctor to consult colleagues and see if I should be referred to a relevant consultant or WTF, on the basis that it's such a bizarre and extreme test result we should probably see if there's an underlying reason that could or should be treated (or, for example, something which might cause the test to give inaccurate results).

Anyway, I thought I'd lob it to the hive mind in case anyone's heard of a similar case or know of something that could cause this, because I am so baffled. And I realize that my belief that bizarre medical things should happen because of reasons has been shown to be delusional before, but still.

... maybe I have a tapeworm that consumes nothing but vitamin C.

Jul. 14th, 2017

sixbeforelunch: tos era spock, text reads &quot;fascinating&quot; (trek - spock - fascinating)

[personal profile] sixbeforelunch

If my brain put half as much effort into important things as it does into figuring out how fictional universes work, I might actually be able to make some progress in life.

Me: What should I do about this housing situation? Should I move or shouldn't I?
My brain: Dunno, but you know what could explain instantaneous Vulcan telepthy across light years? Quantum entanglement.
Me: Um, thanks?

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