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Lydy's Anarchist Revival Meeting

22nd June, 2019. 8:55 pm. Three Random Topics from carbonel

Galaxy - As an sf fan, I am supposed to love astrophysics and astronomy.  I kind of...don't. I think stars are very pretty, and I know that a lot of galaxies look like stars unless you use a strong telescope, and sometimes even then.  I also know  that galaxies are designated by the letter M and a number, and that there was at least one Minicon that used the number of that Minicon, and an image of  the galaxy that it described.  Was that M31?  Really not sure.  Also, there was (is?) a famous sf magazine called Galaxy.  

Waltz - I cannot dance to save my life, and I'm crap at identifying time signatures.  However, I was delighted to realize (incredibly belatedly) that "The Times They Are A-Changing" is a goddamn waltz.  I have always wondered how much truth there was to the Vienna Waltz craze, where allegedly people sold their last stick of furniture to be allowed to waltz a bit longer, and some died of exertion after waltzing for several days, straight.  It sounds exactly like the many iterations of the killer drug and killer youth craze that I've seen in my own life, and none of those were particularly fact-based.  They were, however, reported solemnly by papers of record, and so historians are totally going to believe that LSD caused blindness, violence, and genetic mutations.  And that D&D was used to summon literal demons.

Train - Trains are much nicer than busses, and I really wish they ran more often.  I also know that Amtrak is badly managed by policy, and that we could have nice things if only the Republicans would stop trying to prove that they aren't fit to govern.  I also know that the whole thing is more complicated than that, but I pretty much want to start by turfing anyone who thinks that the point of being elected to office is to destroy the government from within.  Public transport is a public good, not a profit center.  Also, I used to really want to have one dress that had a train, but my goodness, where could I possible wear it?  Since I can't dance (see above) even if I were the type that got invited to historical re-enactment balls and such, I still wouldn't be able to show it to its best advantage.

I would also like to note that all three of my assigned topics are the subjects of passion and have intense fandoms associated with them, and wonder if [personal profile] carbonel  intended that. 

So, that's three random things about which I have demonstrated great ignorance.  If you also wish to have an opportunity to blather about three random topics about which you know nothing, I would be happy to assign them.

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21st June, 2019. 9:23 am. Jewelry Flash Fictions

`So, Elise sometimes requests flash fiction for pieces of jewelry of hers.  I've participated twice.  I didn't win, either time, but I'm actually rather fond of both pieces, and so I thought I'd post them here.  

Moon in a Rocking Chair

It was not that she was tired. Luna swung round the earth with effortless grace, the gift of history and gravity. She loved the dance of waxing and waning, the exciting dip of an eclipse. The howl of wolves and the stories of madness didn't reach her, high and serene above clouds and air, breathing in stars. But for all that she was younger than stars, younger than dirt, there were days when she felt her age. There were days when she shed her celestial visage, donned an old sweater and comfy slippers, and became a woman with a bit of knitting, finding comfort in rocking to and fro. She loved the movement of the chair, predictable and regular, so like her own orbit. She loved the simple mechanics of knitting, creating order from knots. People came to her, when she sat on the porch, pretending to be an old woman, and told her stories. She listened, but didn't understand. Luna understood light and motion, not speech and need. It didn't matter. They were tied together by the rhythms of light and gravity, and in ways that had no words, they comforted each other. When Luna felt young enough, she would leave her rocking chair. She would gently set aside her knitting, shed her sweater, and shake her night-dark hair. She would resume her shining visage, and return to her dance of history and gravity. Luna did not miss her story-tellers when she returned to the heavens. Luna was always, and forever, self-sufficient. The lonely people who came to her when she sat knitting did miss her, but when they looked into the night and saw the moon, rocking gently around the world, they were strangely comforted. Luna is lovely in the night, and sometimes that is enough. 

You Had One Job

Cecily had never liked dinosaurs. So, of course, Danny gave her a velociraptor for Valentine's Day. They were newly available, small and cute, very fast, but guaranteed to not eat your cat or your baby. The year before, he'd given her an interactive album by an artist she didn't like, and had been disappointed that she hadn't gotten through all the alternative tracks and created her own mash-up. For her birthday, he'd given her a fancy walking stick with lots of assistive technology good for long hikes in the woods, a thing she never did and never had any desire to do. Christmas had been...what had it been? Fancy soaps in scents that she was allergic to? No, that had been her mom. Oh, right, a fancy watch which went with none of her clothing, was heavy on her wrist, and told the time in seven languages. She never wore it.

“Rawrr,” went the little feathered monster, as it raced across the room, and flung itself into the curtains. She disentangled it. “Rawrr,” it cooed, as she absently scratched its head. It didn't like the Purina kibble especially designed for dinosaurs, so she got out a cold rotisserie chicken from the fridge. “Rawr,” it said, as it devoured the chicken, bones and all.

April 1st, she sprained her ankle. The ice was unseasonable, and slick. Danny sent her a sympathy card, with a note, “So sorry we won't be able to go bicycling like we planned. I will miss you.” Her mother sent groceries. Frozen dinners she didn't like, but at least she didn't have to go to the store for a week. A friend from work dropped by with Purina kibble and a couple of chickens.

June, on the phone, “Cecily? I'm so sorry. I know you wanted to go to the premier, but something's come up.” She sighed, and told Danny it was fine. They could see the movie another day. He couldn't commit to which day, but he was sure there would be a day. She was sure that there wouldn't be. The unnamed monster hopped up on the table, where it wasn't supposed to be, and rubbed its beak against her head. “Rawr.”

Later that day, a mutual friend posted a picture on Facebook of Danny in his boat on Lake Minnetonka, the sunset a glory of gold and magenta. So that is what had come up. The feathered biped settled down next to her, rested its head on her laptop. “Rawrr.”

For her birthday, Danny bought her tickets for a play written by a friend of his, someone whom she disliked, and whose work she had read and found distasteful. Danny insisted that it was “different when you see it performed.”

Two days before her birthday, Cecily took the tickets, put them in an envelope, and mailed them to Danny. She changed her Facebook status to single. She sat at the kitchen table and cried, while her velociraptor crooned. She decided she liked dinosaurs, after all.

Make Notes

12th June, 2019. 7:19 am. Hilton vs. Lydy, the Twitter update

 So, I posted a link to my previous post to  Twitter, and tagged Hilton Hotels.  They asked me to DM them the details.  This is what I sent them:

Please imagine my most exasperated tone of voice: the details were at the link in the tweet to which you responded.

My legal name is my handle, Lydia Nickerson. I have a reservation at the Doubletree Hotel in St. Louis Park, Minnesota for June 14th and 15th, which is the reservation which I originally called about. The very nice woman to whom I spoke surprised me by telling me I had a Hiltons Honor Program account, which is very possibly true, but I don't travel a lot, and so may have signed up for it some time ago and forgotten it.

She said that she would send me email with a confirmation of my reservation and my Hiltons number. What I got was an email inviting me to log into my Hiltons Honor account, a login screen which asked for the number which I do not have. Which is no big deal, but seriously, people, le sigh.

However, my actual serious issue is with the second woman I talked to, who very nearly gave me a panic attack. It was an incredibly distressing interaction, such that I will be avoiding Hilton properties in the future where I have an option. I do understand that for some people, points and discounts are a competitive game, and fun to play. These are also people, I assume, for whom, as the saleslady said, "Ninety-nine dollars isn't really a deal breaker."

If that is your preferred clientele, well, go you. But for me, a hundred dollars is, indeed, a possible deal breaker. Four days and a hundred dollars are a significant investment. I have wanted to go to Las Vegas to see Cirque du Soliel's "O" for many years now. The reason I have not is because I have not been able to afford it.

This offer made it seem like, with a little work and some effort, I might actually get to do such a thing.

Finally, do not call me. Any communication should be either via DM, or my email address, which is lydy@demesne.com. Under no circumstances do I wish to have another phone conversation with your company.

Oh, and, for the record, I have worked in customer service. I'm quite sure that the woman I had trouble with a) did not have her manager on the other line b) was following the script, and c) is the victim of a predatory incentive policy. You guys must be abusing your employees, to have them treat me in the fashion that she did.

We'll see what they say.  I feel a little bad for the employees.  Working for a predatory company sucks.

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11th June, 2019. 6:46 pm. In Which I React Badly to High-Pressure Sales

So, I called Hilton to double-check on which days I had a reservation for at the Doubletree this weekend, as this weekend is Fourth Street.  (Yay, Fourth Street!)  The person on the other end of the line was a lovely woman who kept on calling me Miss Lydia.  I asked her if she was in the South, she said she lived in North Carolina, and we had a pleasant, short chat.  She asked me if I would be wiling to listen to a presentation for an additional 500 Hilton points, and because she had been so nice, and I know that they use these sorts of metrics to judge their customer help people, I said yes.

The next woman was...nice?  I think?  So, it starts in media res, with her assuming a bunch of things about what I am there for, and I am starting to worry a bit.  I answer a lot of questions, allow as how I might like to go to Las Vegas, and decide that "single" rather than "cohabitation" is the useful category, since I don't usually travel with David.  Then it starts going faster and faster.  Because I don't want to investigate a Carribean cruise, they will refund the $200 that they are going to charge me for the 4 nights 3 days in Las Vegas that I am going to get to  go to in the next year if I book in the next 45 days, but I will still have to pay taxes, but that's only twenty odd bucks and as a special something I didn't quite follow they are now going to give me 5000 Hilton points, which would take me some amazing amount of time or money to accumulate and it's going too fast and I am not following it.  At some point, I give them my credit card number, since yes, I do want to go to Las Vegas, and am pretty sure Beth will go with me, because I really want to see O at some point, and it really does sound like a good deal.  Then the person tells me that she needs to reconfirm everything, and starts saying things, and one of them is that I agree to go to a two hour presentation and that if I have a spouse or co-habitor they will have to attend with me, and I say, "No way in hell am I sitting through a two hour presentation."

So then, the nice? lady explains that she had already told me that, and I had already agreed.  I think this was meant to be reassuring, with a bit of blackmail along the lines of "you already agreed to this."  I start to panic, thinking if I missed that, what else did I miss in the initial conversation.  Also, I think about sitting through a two hour presentation, and have flash backs to church.  (Ok, I had a really weird childhood, so sue me.)  I get more stressed.  She starts going on about how somehow I'm going to be posting a picture of a place that i go on some sort of social media, not Instagram but some travel place or something, and how this is how they generate buzz and of course I do want to tell the world how wonderful they are, and I have lost the thread and can't tell how this connects to the two hour presentation that I apparently agreed to, and I tell her to stop, don't process the money on the card, just let me out of this.  It's all moving too fast, and I'm starting to have a panic attack, and I do not agree to anything.

She then says something about her manager, who is apparently listening in, as per the disclaimer up front, has decided that she can also offer me an additional $200 for something and I am now really, really panicked, because every time I say no to something, it changes.  I cannot keep track of anything.  My stomach hurts and I feel like crying.  She starts asking me questions, and I tell her that I can't, just can't, I really want her to stop, now. and she says that she just wants to ask me if this doesn't sound like a good value, and I'm saying you need to stop, and then she says that her  manager has said that she can offer me an upgrade to a private apartment, and doesn't that sound nice, and I hear myself saying, "No, no, no, no, no, just stop, I said no. Do not charge, just stop."  And she's still trying to sell me, and I said, "I really need you to agree that you heard me say no, and that you won't charge my credit card" and she says, that she did hear me say no, but she just wants to ask me and I interrupt, "I am going to hang up the phone now, you need to not charge my card, I do not consent to anything."  

And hung up the phone.

Hilton is a reasonably respected brand.  I assume that I just passed up on a really good deal.  And, honestly, if she had slowed down, not constantly changed the terms, explained more slowly, been much more understanding when I told her I was having a panic attack, maybe she could have made the sale.  It really seems unlikely that it was a scam.  But it felt exactly, exactly like a scam.  

So, guess I don't have this great hotel deal for Las Vegas after all.  

Fuck Hilton.  I consider it a major victory that I neither dissolved in hysterical tears nor yelled at anyone after I hung up.  But it was a near thing.  

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17th April, 2019. 4:28 am. Car Shopping, in which I am Captain Obvious

My somewhat-beloved and venerable Hyundai Santa Fe, named B, managed to acquire a repair bill twice the value of herself. After a period of panic, I sold  her to my mechanic for $200.  He says that he can fix her up for his 16 year old daughter.  So, she should have a good life after me.  She was at 155,000 miles, and had done yeoman service for six years.  Her name was short for Behemoth, as she was the largest thing that I have ever driven.  Also, a nod to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  (David insists that my very first car, Orange Blossom, was larger.  She was a 1976 International Scout II Travelall, and this may be true, but she stopped running in the late 80s, and I do not remember for certain.)

I purely hate car shopping.  The choice space is just too big.  Upon recommendation from Sharon, I googled "Cars for Old People" since one of my actual issues is that getting in and out of normal cars hurts my back.  Not a lot, but enough.  I knew I really liked my old Subaru Forester, of no name, who I killed a while back by ramming a wall.  So, I ended up going to a Kia dealership to drive a Kia Soul, and then to a Subaru dealership, with the intent of test-driving an Impreza.  I got into the Impreza on the show floor, and that was an instant nope.  It was too far down.  It hurt.  I did test drive an Outback and a Forester.  The modern Forester was lovely, lovely, lovely, but the Outback...was like driving butter.  Really expensive European butter.  It was priced to match, you understand.

And so, to Car Soup.  I found a dealership that had a 2017 Kia Soul and a 2017 Subaru Outback, both ex-fleet vehicles, both at extremely good prices.  The Kia had Most of the Things, and the Outback had All The Things.  David and I went down and test-drove them both.  And, yes, this Outback was still like driving butter, oh god.  AWD and Eyesight and Blindspot and adaptive cruise control and heated seats and the fancy interface with my phone and really, honestly, All The Things.  The Kia was well set up, with stuff I care about, including cruise control, climate control, Bluetooth connection for my phone, a back up camera, but no heated seats.  So,  really only Most of the Things. In the end, I decided based on price.  The Kia was available for $50 less per month, with a loan a full year shorter.  And so

I am now the proud owner of a white Kia Soul.  Which, because I am Captain Obvious, I have named Psyche.  

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25th March, 2019. 10:36 am. Travails, Gynecology Edition, with side notes on Logistical Troubles

I sometimes wonder what gynecology would be like if the medical profession had any history of treating women's pain seriously. Of even their dignity.  Possibly it would be different?  

I have achieved a major life goal: no babies.  I have never been pregnant my entire life, and tests confirm I'm in menopause, so, Achievement Unlocked!  Howsomever, that also means that I need to have the IUD which has been my boon companion for the last five years removed.  The Mirena was lifechanging, I tell you what.  Gone were my periods, and with them crippling menstrual cramps.  I tried to talk my doctor into letting me just keep the damn thing, since any dilation of my cervix hurts like a whole host of blue demons, and this is gonna be terrible as hell, but she insists that no, just no.  Really no.  No with no sauce.  Under no circumstances no.  So I finally made an appointment.

And because the universe hates me, my car is in hospital.  The heating system has been wonky for about two weeks, and for the last week, the heat simply refused to come on.  Occasionally, there was a bad smell, like a skunk a long way off.  On the way home from Jen's wedding (which was very fine), I noticed that the engine was making a weird noise.  I looked at the temperature gauge, and it had pegged in the red.  I was seven blocks from home, there was no where to park, and I said fuck it, and drove the rest of the way home, alternately cajoling and threatening the car.  

The car is old, and falling apart.  We have reached the point of nickel and diming me to death, but I need to save up a down payment on a new car, and I don't have that, yet.  So I'm hoping we can patch the poor thing up for a little longer.  I wish some distant relative I don't like would die and inexplicably leave me money.  My life would be completely transformed by twenty grand.  But that's not happening, so I muddle through as best I can.  If the car is not salvageable, I can probably patch together transport to work for a couple of months while I get it together to get a new car, but it would mean that I can't go to other labs if there was overtime offered, unless David can let me borrow his car.  Which is not impossible but could be inconvenient.  

There's a reason professionals talk logistics, man.  It impacts everything.  In the mean time, my very kind friend Eileen is going to take me to the aforementioned doctor, because god knows gynecological services can't be provided at the clinic 17 blocks from my house, but must be in the fucking suburbs because I don't even know why.  

Still, no babies.  So there's that.

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19th March, 2019. 1:33 pm. Contempt and Politics, a Noodle

This is not a well-formed essay because I don't have all the pieces, yet.  But I want to put down what I do have, because I think it's important, and I think it might be important for other people, too.  Or, you know, not.  Do tell me in the comments.  

I've been thinking of the role of contempt in politics.  As a personal project, I've been trying to eliminate contempt in my own political discourse.   This is, you should understand, a work in progress.  I first noticed my own issues with contempt when I started following @NeolithicSheep on Twitter.  She is a small, sustainable farmer in Virginia, a Democratic Socialist, and extremely acerbic about city folk, especially Northern city folk, being condescending and judgmental about the rural South.  She makes a couple of really striking points.  When we talk about being progressive, we talk about caring about the poor and working class.  There is no definition of poor and working class that doesn't include the rural south.  More striking, the rural south has a lot of people of color in it.  When Northerners talk about writing off the South, we are basically saying that people who live in generational poverty because of the racist white ruling class are unimportant.  She says, often, "We don't leave anyone behind."  When Northerners think about the South negatively, we think about the white people.  Worse, we allow the white people who either identify with slave holders, some of whom are descendants of slave holders and inherited wealth generated by slavery, to define the narrative.  And it is to their benefit for Northerners to only see them, only see their issues and struggles.  All those sympathetic "Trump supporter" profiles continue to give voice and power to that narrative, and ignore the descendants of enslaved people, ignore the very vibrant and active progressives in the South.  Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum took Northerners by surprise, but they came to prominence because there is an extremely vibrant and active progressive alliance in the South which built organizations, and mobilized. It is an alliance which is regularly ignored or shit on by Northerners, except when they feel that they can use those people for their own ends.  Lord love a duck, how we adore the white savior narrative.  But the Civil Rights Movement, that wasn't born in the North amongst white people, though the stories we like to tell tend to be skew that direction.  

Contempt is a way of discarding people.  A way of walking away from problems.  When we say, "Should have let the South secede," what we are really saying is that the problem is too hard for us, and that we don't really care about the people who live there.  We are accepting the white supremacist narrative of the South.  I grew up in a Fundamentalist church.  My father was a minister, and I was fascinated by theology as a child.   I think that Fundamentalism is profoundly dangerous, and often evil.  But I am so very, very tired of people saying that Fundamentalists are stupid.  They aren't.  My father was very smart, my mother is extremely bright.  They held virulently horrible opinions about the world.  There are stupid Fundamentalists, but you don't have to be  stupid to believe in Creationism.  That belief system serves some very specific needs and desires, and very smart people do some very interesting intellectual gymnastics to believe in it.  They do it because they need something it offers, not because they are stupid.  Bigots and racists are not stupid, they are evil.  They are making choices that damage the body politic.  But shrugging and saying, "Well, what do you expect from a bunch of hicks," does nothing except make you feel good about yourself.

Contempt is a way of refusing to engage.  Refusing to look at the what's and the why's.  Which is going to sound like I think that you should debate Nazis instead of punching them.  No, no I don't think that.  I would argue that debating Nazis is often a form of contempt, not respect. Ask me how I know.  I used to go out onto Usenet (yes, I am that old) when I was bored, looking for people with bad opinions to argue with and condescend to.  It was fun.   It changed pretty much no ones mind, but it was entertaining to troll the trolls.  I held them, and their beliefs, in contempt, and I enjoyed demonstrating that on the Internet.  I was not engaging with them, I was mocking them.  They had nothing to say that I valued.  Dear friends, nothing a Nazi says is worth engaging in.  Nothing a racist says about race is worth engaging in.  Bigotry and hatred is not something to debate.  It is something to hate, something to excoriate.  My humanity is not up for discussion, and no one else's should be, either.

I think that many of those Trump voter profiles were actually rooted in contempt, masked as empathy.  I think that there was a sense that these people were so pitiably stupid that they had nothing to say, nothing of value, and that profiling them would make that clear.  And, yeah, no.  If someone you respect says something gobsmackingly wrong, you try to correct them.  Ideally without humiliating them.  I do come from a sub-culture where correcting people is considered polite, so I am biased in that direction. The profile of Richard Spencer, which spent a lot of time talking about how natty he was, and not about how hateful his views and goals were, is contemptuous to the point of malfeasance.  The only reason that Richard Spencer matters is because he is getting political traction for Nazi talking points, and a profile more concerned with his polish than his politics is contemptuous of both Spencer and the reader.  If you have nothing useful to say about the reason Spencer's views are dangerous, if you can't write a piece which constructive engages with his hateful bigotry (and I will grant you that writing such a piece may not be possible) then why are you profiling him in the first place?

I find that when I try to remove condescension from my political discourse, I have more room for both compassion and anger.  I am more willing to hold people to account for their own actions, and more willing to consider the context in which they have taken those actions.  I am more aware of what people do, and less judgmental of who they are.  

Here endeth the noodle.  

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27th February, 2019. 6:39 am. Letterkenny Progress

I can now report that the two hockey dudes are named Reilly and Jonesey.  I am unclear as to whether they have first names.  I have also been sufficiently acculturated that when Reilly and Jonesey decided that the way to win back Katy was to beat up her big brother Wayne, my second response was, "Could work."  I continue to be impressed that most of the people in this show are kind, that there is very little contempt, and very little embarrassment humor.  

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20th February, 2019. 4:03 am. These Are Their Problems

Ok, who else has seen "Letterkenny"?  And why, oh why, did you not tell me about it?

I am still in the "Oh, my god, what the fuck has happened to me" stage of the experience.  When they say, "This is for mature audiences only" they are not fucking around, my friends.  Is is easily the crudest, most casually obscene thing I have ever seen, with no graphic sex and very little violence, but oh my god, so crude.  Hysterically, hilariously, intensely crude.

Also, and not joking here, it is extremely poetic.  They use repetition in a way that I have not seen, but I believe some forms of poetry do use repetition in this fashion.  

I am unsure if I like any of these people.  But I am entranced by this show.  It is really, really rare to have something with intensely vibrant verbal pyrotechnics combined with an amazing range of obscenity and vulgarity and profanity.  I mean, they fucking use all the goddamn words.  All the words.  

 This, for example, is a description of a bar fight in alphabetical alliteration.  The guy giving the prompt is Daryl, and the guy describing the fight is Wayne, the toughest guy in Letterkenny.  

Warning, there is Language.

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16th February, 2019. 10:56 pm. I fucked up

I forgot that today is the Mnstf Pool Party.  It is one of the two (three, if you count Minicon) Big Deal parties of the year.  I have been having unusually bad brain weather, and so keeping track of things like, Today Is a Day I Go to Work has been difficult.  I didn't wake up until 9:30 p.m., and had to shower and red up the media room because Eric and Pamela are sleeping here to night, so I wasn't really ready to put on clothes and leave the house until 10:30 p.m.  By the time I got to the hotel, it would be 11:00 p.m., minimum, and many of my friends will have already left.  So, I've decided to stay at home and drink beer and eat nachos.

I'm really angry about this, but there's no one to be angry _at_.  It was no one's job to remind me, and no one's job to make me make plans, and I forgot, and I didn't make plans, and I haven't seen my Mnstf friends in forever, and I'm just really sad and pissed.

Possibly it will be more than one beer. 

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