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Lydy's Anarchist Revival Meeting

17th July, 2015. 11:17 am. Three Body Problem -- Arghhhh!

So, anybody else really unhappy with this much touted novel? Finished it today, and am so very frustrated. It doesn't go below No Award, but really, I was hoping for so much better.

Will talk to anyone who wants to talk in comments. Spoilers a-ok in comments.


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8th July, 2015. 9:32 am. Notes to Self: Knitting Edition

1. One can, in fact, use a bent paperclip as a cable needle, but one would much rather not.

2. One can also, if hard pressed, use that same paperclip to string a lifeline, and one would really, really rather not. One may, however, find oneself incredibly grateful for having endured said irritation a mere half-hour later. So, there's that.

3. Possibly, one should kit up a duplicate "knit kit" to keep in one's other craft bag, since one appears to be somewhat erratic about transferring it from one bag to the other depending on which project is being worked on at the moment.

4. Stitch markers pop off the needle with amazing frequency, and one has the devil's own time finding them again. One has lost two stitch markers this previous evening, and one is annoyed.

5. One has heard that five things make a post, and one has declared this to be, therefore, a post.


I have also committed a Russian join, and it appears to be adequate to the task. So, yet another new skill. Yay, me.

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3rd July, 2015. 1:28 pm. You say that as if it were a bad thing

So, Obama was in Wisconsin, like you do. And he said some things, like you do. Republicans were upset, like you do. But one of them is quoted as saying that Obama is "shopping his legacy." Um, that's a bad thing? Wanting to leave behind a permanent change that people will point to and say, "Yep, Obama did that." For fuck's sake, it's not like he's Andrew Carnegie, who really did buy a legacy. He was an oppressive monster (Homestead, anyone?), made a ton of dough, and then started worrying about his legacy. And, you know, I'm real damn fond of all those libraries. I'd be much happier if he hadn't killed so many miners and factory workers, you understand. Fewer libraries, fewer deaths? Yep, I'd take that bargain. But still, how is wanting to leave behind a positive change a discreditable thing?

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23rd June, 2015. 4:45 am. Knitting progress

I have reached that level of skill where I can recognize inadvertent yarn-overs and correct them rather than knit into them, but I have not yet reached the level where I don't make them.

I have embarked on a difficult afghan pattern, which has, I kid you not, ten different types of cables. Also, bobbles. Also, the trinity stitch, which I've done before and rather like, but it does involve this weird Make 3 thing. Best estimate is that it will take about 150 hours, total.

I am also finishing up a crocheted afghan that I'm not sure I'm entirely happy with. I'm piecing together 182 little hexagons. So very annoying. But that project isn't very portable.

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22nd June, 2015. 5:06 pm. Adventures in Bio-warfare, or Failing to Learn From My Mistakes Edition 9,132,872

So, I went for a walk with Eileen last Monday, and got bit by a bug. Actually, several bugs, but only one bite features in this story. On Tuesday, there was a bright red, oblong spot, a little longer than a quarter, but not as wide. It hurt when I scratched it, a kind of a burning hurt. And it itched quite badly.

Wednesday, at work, I looked at it in the mirror. It had grown to the size of my palm, in a roughly paisley shape. I carefully marked out the edges with a magic marker. By the morning of Thursday, it was a little larger than the outline, but not lots larger. I went to bed.

Thursday at work, I looked at it again. It was larger. It was now roughly six inches by three inches, still in a fascinating paisley shape. It had also developed some mottled yellow at the center, looking rather like an old bruise. Doing the thing that Beth told me not to do, I carefully marked out the new, larger red spot, rather than making a doctor's appointment. In my defense, it was three in the morning. It did not grow during my work night, however, and by morning, it looked to me like it had shrunk a little bit, and was possibly a trifle less red.

I had intended to go to the doctor on Friday morning, since I didn't have to work Friday night. But what with the reduction in redness, and the slight retreat, I thought, "Fuck it, I'm tired," and went to bed instead.

When I woke up Friday night, it had grown an additional three inches in length and added an ear-shaped appendage. So I went to Urgent Care Saturday morning.

The doctor had a British-inflected Middle Eastern accent. He looked at the rash. He said, "This rash. I do not like it."

"That makes two of us."

"There is a bug bite at the center. I do not know if it is a tick bite. I do not know if it is a wood tick or a deer tick."

"Me neither."

"I do not like antibiotics. You should take antibiotics. I cannot tell if this is Lyme Disease. You should take anti-biotics."

And so, I'm taking antibiotics.

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5th June, 2015. 10:37 pm. Pro-tip

If you are calling a large bureaucracy (say, a hospital) and having a lot of trouble reaching the person who can help you, and the person you are currently talking to asks you "What number did you call?" they are very likely trying to diagnose the problem. It is possible that they simply want to diss you for calling the wrong number, but not all that likely. Refusing to answer the question and being obstreperous about getting the runaround from everyone you talk to is likely to get you more runaround. In general, if people are trying to get rid of you, they won't bother asking you questions; they'll lecture you and hang up, or transfer you. If they actually try to engage with you, and ask you a series of questions about your previous experiences getting shunted from one unhelpful person to the other, they aren't making fun of you. They're trying to retrace your path so that they can figure out what you actually need. Being unable to distinguish between a sleep consultation and a sleep study, or a sleep clinic and a sleep lab will cause some confusion, and the person trying to help you will likely try to clarify the difference. This is not an attempt to tell you you're wrong, it's an attempt to figure out what the heck is going on.

tl;dr: Just work with me, ok? You were the one who called me.

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24th May, 2015. 12:18 pm. More adventures in miming

I sent David an email last night suggesting that for my birthday, he take me to the new Mad Max movie. This morning, we "talked" about this. I was able to successfully convey that yes, I wanted that movie in particular, not just a movie in general. Then we "talked" about lunch. I successfully managed to mime "give me a multiple choice question," and "yes, I don't like Chinese in general, although there are exceptions." However, I completely failed to convey, "But there's a SmashBurger right there, in the mall!"

David said, "I know there isn't one right here, unless there's one under your bed."

I had to resort to typing on my computer and showing it to him, at which point he said, "Well, why didn't you just say so?"

So, I yelled at him with my duck hands.

"Peking duck? But you don't like Chinese." And then he made his escape.

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23rd May, 2015. 11:26 pm. Who will give voice to the voiceless?

This morning is the first time in eleven days I woke up without a sore throat. For values of morning that involve waking up at four in the afternoon. It lasted six whole hours, and then it started hurting again. Sigh.

I lost my voice completely on Wednesday at work, some eight days after the onset of the sore throat. What is going on I don't even.

Communicating primarily by mime has been...interesting. David completely understood "How long until dinner?" but completely failed to understand "I woke up at 4:00 this afternoon." After a series of successively more off-target guesses, he tried, "I'm a very confused Lydy and I have nothing useful to say." I decided that was close enough, and nodded. Which amused us both.

At one point, I tried miming that I had So Many Things To Say by making a duck-head from my hand and opening and closing it, miming speaking -- or maybe quacking. Any gate, can you see what I mean? David said, "You are ranting with your fingers." I nodded with my duck-head. He said, "It's much more peaceful when I can't hear you." So I made both my duck-head-hands rant. He said, "La la la I can't hear you." Which made me laugh. Except not out loud, because that would hurt.

I really need my voice by Tuesday. I have a thing at work called a PAP nap which involves a lot of talking to the patient about PAP therapy. Which, you know, I don't think I can do in mime.

Oh, and in case you missed it, I'm working days at the moment. Only until June, but man it blows. Getting up at oh-god-thirty is precisely why I went and got a night job in the first place, for fuck's sake.

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10th April, 2015. 10:22 pm. Caesar's Wife

This is going to repeat some stuff Ctein has said in the "Violations and Ruminations" thread. I would just like to say that I am genuinely tired of the phrase Caesar's wife, especially when it comes to talking about harassment.

Here's the thing about Caesar's wife. She's not above reproach; she's human. With the best good will in the world, she's going to make mistakes. When we talk about being above reproach, we end up talking about appearance rather than actuality. We worry that we must look impartial and perfect and just, when in fact what we are are a bunch of squishy people trying to deal with messy problems.

Systems must not be designed so that they fail utterly if mistakes are made. Mistakes will be made. If you decide that any mistake is too costly, what you have done is not design a system that cannot fail, but a system that must indulge in obfuscation and cover-up. Any mistakes made must be hidden from sight.

Process is a process. This is not a tautology. A good process comes from thinking carefully about goals and consequences of actions, designing the best system you can, play-testing it as best you can (which often involves a lot of thought experiments), and then putting it live as beta, and seeing what happens. If you've done it right, the system is understandable and transparent, and has an obvious mechanism for feedback, so that when there are holes in the process or errors in input or output, this can be brought to the attention of the maintainers. Who then evaluate the current process, integrate the new data, and respond by either adjusting the process or clearly explaining why the process remains the same. Processes rapidly become outdated, so it's really important that this feedback loop never get closed. What works brilliantly the first couple of times out may actually fail.

We're seeing this with the Hugos, actually. The process of choosing the Hugos is quite old (when did we go to the current system of ranked choice?) and pretty robust. The most recent change, I think, has been on-line voting, which has been pretty darn cool, too. The accusations of the SP/RP slate are provably spurious. But they did manage to break the nomination process. Which is clearly understood, and reasonably transparent. So now people are involved in reviewing the system, trying to understand exactly what happened, how they feel about the outcome, and what, if anything to do next. This is an incredibly robust system, but part of the reason that it is is because it's transparent, understandable, and is constantly accepting input. Ok, actually drafting a resolution and going to the WSFS meeting is a pain in the ass, but that too is useful. It prevents flailing around and making a rules change every ten minutes. Go WSFS.

Back to Caesar's wife. She gets to make mistakes. She will make mistakes. What she needs is a way to acknowledge those mistakes and improve her behavior. Good processes allow that. And people will lie about Caesar's wife, because of her position. Everybody knows this, if they think about it. Look at what the SP/RP assholes have said about the Hugos and how they are awarded. I can't judge how sincere the instigators are, but it seems pretty likely that they have, indeed, persuaded some people of this story. Some of these people won't bother to look at the facts available to them. But because the process is clear and reasonably transparent, anyone who cares to can look at it and develop an informed opinion about how it works. In the end, the reputation of the Hugos is secure because we know what, exactly, it is.

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9th April, 2015. 2:22 pm. The Rules, They Are A-Changin'

So, one of the things I think is going on in my community is that younger people, mostly but not entirely women, are coming to the community with a different set of standards of behavior and stronger personal boundaries. And older people, like me, largely but not entirely women, are saying, "Wait, wait! That's an _option_? Cool. Sign me up. I will take a double-order of nope with that tasty, tasty no sauce drizzled all over, thanks."

And this is confusing for some people. While they might have been comfortable with simply treating the newer cohort differently, all of a sudden here are these people they've known for thirty years that want to be treated differently, too. And suddenly they're vocal and insistent. That's gotta feel like somebody changed the rules on them.

Of course, one could also argue that we're just asking that the rules from the 1970s actually be enforced, for a change. I mean, it's only been forty fucking years. Can I have my autonomy, now?


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