Thursday, May 19, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. This story about what losing access to a grocery store on a day that might be the only day that week people have to go shopping is one of the things that attacks on underserved neighbors exacerbates. 
2. I confess, I have been limiting my reading on the congregation members in Laguna Woods who managed to detain a shooter.because the story makes me incredibly emotional.  LAist has this piece about the man who was killed stopping the shooter.  
3. And the Journal of Popular Romance Studies has a special open access issue on Black Romance.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

On Faux Compliments

I know, I know, this poorly prepped for media parent is clearly vying for fame and I should just ignore her. 
And yet. As a mixed race person, who, by the way is part native Hawaiian, having people tell you weird things that in their brain is clearly a compliment but actually is just not, well it can be hard to explain. 
So, to the teen who is Black and white (but not Hawaiian) who's mom went on TV to say that school taught him to see himself as Black and to see that there is racism in the world, I am sorry. And then she said, on TV mind you, that you don't even look Black, you look Hawaiian. 
I am sorry. 
Because let's unpack what happened here. This parent decided that it was a problem that her child identified as his actual race. And in order to support her feeling that he should not consider himself Black, she stated that he doesn't look Black. 
A. If he is Black, then he looks Black. 
I realize a lot of people are confused by this. But people not looking the way you expect is not a failure of their appearance, it is a failure of your imagination.
B. People can be Black and Hawaiian. Just like they can be Black and white. 
And look, I know there are some people thinking, well, she just meant she thinks he's handsome like Jason Momoa or Keanu Reeves. And, even if she did mean that, the way to compliment someone is not so say they look like something they are not. Because if you actually appreciated what they were, you wouldn't need to change it to compliment them. 
Happy AAPI Heritage Month folks!

Monday, May 16, 2022

I Wish This Wasn't Normal

Mass shootings occur pretty regularly in the US, the thing that fluctuates is the ones where we are sure the victims did not deserve it. So grocery store shootings, church shootings, and the like get treated as special. To be clear, I would like the number of people killed by guns to be zero. 
But I am aware we remember to talk about gun violence sometimes, and ignore it others.
One of the mass shootings this weekend involved a Civil Rights activist who had, among other things, taken the time to write about gun violence last year. 
If the news has angered, enraged, or saddened you, consider looping into local violence interruption efforts and looking at what kind of support they need. Sometimes it's money, sometimes it's letters written to local electeds to tell them you support such efforts. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. Hat Tip to NapMinistry for pointing me to this post on trauma drive, and how motivational slow down can be a good sign.  I am aware that there is a current cultural excess in the use of the word trauma, and yet, I do think pandemic living means more of us are experiencing it than not.  
2. This post about digital privacy is aimed at if Roe v. Wade falls, but as is noted, the consequences for many of current reproductive law are already here.  
3. I am really intrigued by the Smithsonian's announcement that they will return unethically looted items, and look forward to seeing how they and other museums form such policies.  

Monday, May 09, 2022

Reading Mad

Sometimes I know a book is not for me, and yet I keep reading. Sometimes I want to see if the story pulls itself away from the ditch my brain has shoved it into, but the reality is that happens rarely. Not because I am mean or terrible or even prescient. Okay, I'm a little bit prescient. Because not about the world, just about stories. 
So sometimes my brain is like nope, and I'm like no, we judged too fast and my brain is right because the signs of a thing I will not like are already there. 
But sometimes I keep reading anyway. And it occurred to me that sometimes reading is escape, but sometimes the escape I need is to be mad at something terrible. So reading a book I know is going to make me mad feels like control. It's making me mad, but I knew it was going to make me mad, and so I am mad because of this and only this. *Ignores the entire rest of the world* 
And I am not a professional psychologist, but just like folks exploring their sexuality often focus on celebrities because you get to gush and squee and yet it is entirely expected for this person to never call you, never show up, never speak directly to you. So you have signed on to a one sided relationship.
And similarly me reading a book that is making me mad lets me be mad, and then put the book away. And sometimes that is what I need. 

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Three Interesting Things

2. I am not a librarian, but Anne Helen Petersen's talk to librarians about work these days may resonate for folks in a lot of fields right now. 
3. Jackie Lau compiled a list of Asian Romance authors with books in $5 and under range. 
Also, I created a Bookshop list of some Hawaiian authors writing in a range of categories (includes me). 

Monday, May 02, 2022

Be Gentle

I spent the last week trying to be very gentle with myself.  I'm coming up on some anniversaries of things, and heading into parental holiday season, and well, it is both a lot, and it is fine.
This is often a transitional time for folks.  On the northern hemisphere, while it is still spring, signs of summer are beginning to appear. School kids and teachers are eyeing summer plans, and those of us in jobs that don't automatically shift for reasons are still aware that time is shifting.  
Businesses often do quarterly reporting, evaluating how things are going, and schools often do too.  So as humans, we are trained to look out for these changes, and re-evaluate what it means.  
Pandemic rules are different of course, but most of us have more non-pandemic traditions embedded within us, than not.  (Shout out to my pandemic born cousin, who has only ever known a life where his parents telecommuted. It's a good life, kid.)
For folks who make five year plans, the plans are likely a little dented, even if you've rewritten them a few times.  
So, be gentle.  Progress isn't the only measure of success, sometimes survival really is an achievement. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. I hope this open letter to the person who emailed to correct this person's grammar was as satisfying to read as it was to write.  (Note: WaPo link.)
2. Continuing my trend of reading about TV that I'm not watching, this chat with costume designers for three shows featuring characters underrepresented in historical dramas. 
3. Montgomery County teens won a CSPAN documentary contest

Monday, April 25, 2022

This Post Will Not Self Destruct....

But in light of recent Twitter news, I'm going to deactivate the account this was pushing Twitter links to. It coincides with me thinking I probably need to be scarce on social media for a bit anyway. I will still be here and on the newsletter. And I'm not sure I'll be able to successfully break, but I'm gonna try.

Project Grief

I've been reading The Grieving Brain, so my thoughts are more focused than usual on the lens of grief. But we were talking in one of my creator groups about that point where you the creator think everything is terrible and really this making things was a bad plan and someone should have stopped you phase. I referenced an old Gaiman post about that:
And similarly Yarn Harlot had a post about the feeling of coming to the end of a yarn project.
And I think in both cases, it's grief. Maybe not explicitly or exclusively. But part of what The Grieving Brain talks about is that part of the work of grief is your brain adjusting to the difference between what was and what is.
And that happens when you make things. The difference isn't necessarily bad, but in the execution things shift and change. 
I do also think some of it is anticipatory decision making. Like once I'm finished what next? And even if the answer is editing or blocking or finding the next project, it requires shifting gears. 
And so while you can trash it. Or stop. Or go write something else. You can also keep going. Partly because it is easier to evaluate a finished project. And this is not to say finish everything no matter what. If the sweater clearly will not fit, then stop. 
But also, some of this feeling bad is an expected part of the process as you realign your expectations with reality. The feelings are still there, and still valid. They just don't always mean stop.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. As someone who has consumed a lot of Amy's Kitchen products, I was saddened by this story about the labor conditions.  I hope the workers are able to get their conditions improved.  
2. These striking strippers have been doing theme nights for their strikes, and one of them was OSHA violations at the club.  It's a combo of pretty and horrifying.
3. This 90 year-old lei maker is showing up once again for the Merrie Monarch craft fair. 

Monday, April 18, 2022

Life Lessons

I remember back in the day, as a newly minted adult asking my mom for advice on doing my taxes.  She said, well, you'll get a bunch of things that say tax information, and just use those.  At the time this advice seemed, well, lacking.  
But, as I was trying to solve a missing document housed online, as an experienced tax filing person, I mostly kinda look for all the forms that arrive that say tax information. 
So, thanks, Mom.  
Of course many of the things and trappings of adulthood are bureaucratic and sometimes byzantine, as well as shrouded in secrecy.  
I never had to take a personal finance class in school, but a friend of mine did and she said learning things like budgeting, and just getting used to terms and processes was helpful.  
My parents were firmly of the we are adults and some of the things we do are not your business camp, and so some things, like figuring out how to turn on or off utilities, or file taxes seemed like mysterious processes that I was on my own to figure out.  
Some days it feels like adulthood is the long process of figuring out which of the things your family did were normal, and which wasn't.  And deciding which were weird for good reasons, and which weren't. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. Xochitl Gonzalez wrote about the feeling when it's your neighborhood that gets attacked
2. Sylvia Bell's interview with Serena Williams focused on her finding more comfort as she makes ever more plans. 
3. I found this look at how Ijeoma Olua and her family approached building and filling a house after their rental burned down really lovely.   
Also, if you are or know a teen who could do with electronic access to some Banned Books, Brooklyn Public Library has an offer for that. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Progress Markers

I remember going on a tour at a rug factory, and they showed us to a woman hand weaving a rug, and asked her how long each rug took.  They took between one and two years. Walking away I said something foolish to the effect that, I could never work on something where your progress was so infinitesimal, that you were dedicating over a year to doing one thing.  I know.  I was young.  
Because so many projects unfurl over long stretches of time.  This is why we have all these things like word counters, and task lists, why we get into micro-tasking, and breaking tasks into smaller parts.  
It's true of social justice - where sometimes there are great leaps forward, and often slides back, and the periods in between where many people think nothing is happening, even though people are pushing each day. 
I thought of this as I worked on a knitted on border on a shawl.  For those unfamiliar, knitting on a border, basically means after knitting the shawl, you knit a border on sideways, along the longest edge.  So the rows are shorter than the shawl, but now you have to repeat that over and over, and you start to wonder why you decided to do this, haven't you been doing this forever, or maybe that's just me.  
And so I plunked a bunch of stitch markers along the length, so that I could pause and cheer each time I made it to one.  It's still the same number of stitches and rows, but it helps make my progress a little more concrete.  And sometimes being able to see those markers along the way, help me keep going. 

Friday, April 08, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. This story of systemic gaps that led to a delay in family members being notified after an unhoused person was found dead is the kind of deep local dive that alt-weeklies spend time on.  It coming out the week the Washington City Paper announced an end to paper and a reduction in staff is sort of a sad reminder of the losses when local coverage contracts.
2. I am not a Ward 3 resident, and so have not paid much attention to the various candidates, but this teen running for city council seems to have some great ideas.
3. And now there is BINGOAT, goat bingo

Monday, April 04, 2022

Changing Benefits

I used to have a job that paid for my internet. It's worth noting that I was hired as an in person employee, the company made the decision that the rent on my office was too high, and so made us telecommuters and paid for our internet.
And then a few years later they decided to stop. They argued that everyone had internet anyway. Never mind that our telecommuting policy said that you should not be using said internet for anything other than work during the work day, should have any household member stream movies or other bandwidth hogs on a different internet or on non-work hours. 
The telecommuting policy also required a certain level of speed. 
And yes, I had internet before they paid for it. But I had internet that worked for watching a movie or doing whatever, but not necessarily for being in use for 40-80 hours a week of work. 
And let's note that the pay raises we received that year, were, for me at least, low enough that losing the free internet basically meant a net loss of pay that year. 
I thought of this as I was sent a job posting recently that wanted to hire people for a six week contract. The workers needed to have prior industry experience, pass a grammar and typing test, have their own computer, have their own internet of a certain speed, but they would get to telecommute. And yes, the salary was above minimum wage, but probably not once you include equipment and utility costs.
I talk a lot about telecommuting in part because of things like this. Telecommuting has pros and cons, but one of the biggest cons to my mind is the assumption that my space, that I pay rent on, my internet, that I pay, my desk, that I bought, my computer, that I bought, my accessories, that I bought, are all things I don't deserve to be compensated for when the employer wants me to use them for their convenience. 
That I should not just be grateful to be paid, even though the startup costs are all mine. 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. My non voting member of Congress spoke about how a DC judge is up for Supreme Court justice, and DC does not get to vote on that
2. And I happened on to this delightful fictional restaurant review this week. 
3. Was pointed this week to this story from earlier in the pandemic when people wanted really cool books for their video chat backdrops

Monday, March 28, 2022

Greedy for Plots

This past weekend, for a variety of reasons, I binged a bunch of short fiction.
Even when I'm reading anthologies, I tend to bounce in and out, getting a little long fiction in there too, resetting a bit. 
And this weekend, I decided to be indulgent. To just keep glomming the next, pausing only to track the titles as I went leaving my brain a glorious mismash of ghosts, and kisses, and spaceships. 
It felt very decadent. And yet why? I mean of course there is privilege involved in being unneeded for two days. But why should just reading feel so decadent? I think there are all these little things set up to make us feel guilty about not doing. One of the things I like about tracking reading is that it makes reading look more productive. Reading doesn't have to be productive and reading fast or slow is not a value judgement. One could certainly argue that metrics encourage people to read more when processing what you have read can also be useful. Certainly the faster I burn through stories the more likely I am to look back and go, I think that one was in space? Or something?
But I find even when the details are fuzzy, I remember the feelings: happy, sad, confused, elated, scared, triumphant, resolved, and much more.
And how fun is that, to go all these places and feel all these things, from my couch.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. I felt this piece about "Licorice Pizza" delved into the issues of using racism to use as a punchline about a character isn't a neutral decision.
2. This piece looked at several people around the world and whether they were or were not still telecommuting. 
3. I'm always fascinated when people find some ancient seeds and manage to grow an ancient date palm.  (Yes this is from two years ago, but pandemic years.)

Monday, March 21, 2022

Daylight and Systems

I saw someone posit on Twitter that the Daylight Saving versus Standard Time thing is a fight between morning and night people. Now of course the factions are more nuanced than that, and full disclosure, I consider myself an afternoon person and a Daylight Savings stan.  If I have to pick more dark mornings versus more dark nights, I pick mornings.  
I found this article about the time we went all daylight saving all the time interesting mostly because it seems people really like it when there's lots of daylight and really hate it when it's not. 
I am going to digress a bit and tell you when I started at my university they were on a trimester system.  So most classes you enrolled in for the entire year - had two normal sized trimesters, and then one shorter one that had several weeks dedicated to final exams.  We had a winter break and a spring break between the first and second, and the start time of the first was designed to run us, through to winter break.  
Of course, not everything is a course designed for an entire academic year. So there were half courses, and if you were enrolled in one, you started with the other classes and then ended at a point in the middle of term two, and likely started another that then ran through the rest of the year.  
While I was there, the university began discussing moving to a semester plan.  In order to provide a small mid-semester break so one didn't have classes for a much longer period of time with no break before winter, the proposal involved shifting the start of semester earlier, truncating the spring break since it would now be a mid semester break, and then ending a few weeks earlier than we currently did.  
People were so upset.  They were losing summer, they were getting less time off, this was all a terrible idea and also their professor told them that because we were changing to semesters they had to get rid of classes.  
Now of course, if you did the math, the breaks and the days of classes were exactly the same, they were simply differently distributed.  Also, semesters were going to change course offerings, not because semesters were killing courses, but the opportunity to offer course aligned to semesters, was of course going to have departments re-evaluating their course offerings.  
A lot of the time change stuff feels like this to me.  I love getting to see sunshine midweek.  For me that means sunshine in the evening.  But of course if there was more sunshine in the morning and I choose to do things like sleep, then that is my choice.  
We have twenty four hours regardless of the times we assign them.  I will still be bad at calculating Alaska time.  (Sorry Alaskan peeps.  I'm working on this.)  Because we have school in winters, and because we get down to eight hours of daylight in most of the US, children will wait for and/or get off a bus in the dark. 
But see all those becauses?  Because we have school in winter.  So what if we didn't?  What if we had a longer break in winter to account for the lack of daylight?  
What if school was shorter so the number of days that was an issue was less?  
What if school started later and ended earlier?  
And I know there are ripple logistics.  Many schools don't have AC, so the academic year needs to wrap before the heat kicks in.  
Many school districts have limited bus drivers, so they stagger start times. 
But all these things are system failures we are accepting.  
And look, I work at a job where I need to show up at an exact time, and I get it.  Not everything can change and some of these changes are expensive and resources are slim these days.  
But I am fascinated that we have decided changing the time we call it, will cover up the issues we've been letting drag on for a while. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. There is a container ship stuck in the Chesapeake Bay.  I suspect this is just going to become a common problem as large boats and climate change collide.  
2. Nikki Grimes wrote about how stories about the bad things that can happen to teenagers are appropriate for schools, and taking that away just makes it hard for the students who could learn from them. 
3. A lost ship has been found in the Antarctic, still looking well preserved. 

Monday, March 14, 2022

A Different Pandemic

I spoke to someone who said something to the extent that well, with COVID everyone does in a hospital. And it was not the time or place to well actually someone's grief. But it was a reminder that while the virus impacting everyone across the globe is the same, we are all having different experiences. I personally know people who were hospitalized and people who were not. Some survived, some didn't. For some families that I spoke to, getting the person home for hospice was a goal, once other goals became unattainable. Some folks have been simply discovered deceased after what they thought were symptoms of something else. 
Some people have easy access to the vaccine, and some do not. Some people are telecommuting, and some are not. Some people have masks or tests provided by jobs or governments and some do not. And it's easy to forget those differences, to assume that it's the same for everyone. But it isn't.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. I did a lot of research on lei making for Aloha to You, and so I appreciate both the work and the sleeplessness involved in trying to replace 500 leis in a matter of days for the school song contest. 
2. This story about Brittany Griner I think covers the careful dance for why people are talking but not, you know, too much about Griner's detainment in Russia.  My thoughts are with both her and her loved ones, waiting on stuff like this is the worst.  
3. And the Iditarod is happening, and this story about rescue dog Zeke's participation is adorbs.  
Also, some literary agents are putting together some things for Trans Texans.  The auction starts tomorrow. 

Monday, March 07, 2022

Your Brain is Like an Algorithm

Once upon a time, there was a a site that if you told it things you like, would recommend other things to you. And it was wonderful. Some of the things it recommended I had already tried, so I spent time giving it more data. And it was great. Until eventually, it had so much data about me, it was no good. To me the recommendations seemed entirely off, or just plain terrible. Eventually it seemed to try to self correct, filtering down to only the last three things I like and working from there.
I read about a study once that said people who have just met people are better at picking gifts for folks than people who have known each other for years.
Being an informed aware person is a good thing. But your brain can only process so much data before the algorithm goes a bit haywire. Sometimes you need to take a break, let the well refill, let the data churn a bit before you add more. It can be easy to go all on or go all out. Learning to float a bit is a skill. And you can't float all the time, so sometimes you will have to switch.
But letting it process a bit isn't lazy, it's smart.

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. It's always interesting when folks show up in what they assume is a niche community, and well, discover that niche does not always mean small or unused to people trying to market at them.  Yes, I am discussing the folks that bought a knitting domain and announced plans to use yarn folk as the test ground for their series on how to market.  WoollyWormhead had this post about why this isn't just a popcorn situation. 
2. This piece looked at some of the logistics families displaced by the water situation in O'ahu are working with. 
3. Also, with the various acts of war happening to Ukraine right now, resources that Americans can donate to are not always easy to find, but there are some options listed here, including some focused on refugees, which there will of course continue to be many of as a result of this. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Books for Donation Receipts

It's been an overwhelming week of news. 
Following the lead of others, particularly R. M. Virtues, I would like to offer folks books in exchange for donation receipts. Or a query review, if that is a thing that you are into.
With so many things calling for attention at the moment, I am not going to be super picky about where you donated. 
With recent legal news in Florida and Texas, Lambda Legal might be a great option. There's also romance folks raising money for the Transgender Education Network of Texas here:
Food is always a concern in troubling times, so Feeding America or World Central Kitchen are options.
I know I have readers in Japan, if there are places that are more open to donations for you, I'm going to trust that. 
Some fine print.
This will be for ebooks. I don't have capacity to be shipping at the moment.
Send me your receipt either using the contact form or emailing tara+contest @ tarakennedy dot com.  
My preference is to route you through Book Funnel for the freebie. If you hate that, let me know in the email, along with your preferred format (mobi, epub) and I'll send it to you. 
$5 - donation - 1 novel or 2 novellas
$10 donation - 2 novels or 1 novel and 2 novellas/shorts
$15 - 2 novels and 2 novellas/shorts or 4 novellas/shorts
$20 - Query Critique or 2 novels and 3 novellas/shorts or 5 novellas/shorts
$25 - 7 titles of your choice, or query critique plus 1 title
$30 - 8 titles of your choice, or query critique plus 2 titles
$35 - All 9 titles or query critique plus three titles

Novellas/Shorts are: Bait Girl, Aloha to You, Repeated Burn, Bored By the Billionaire, and Cocker on the Porch, which is currently not for sale anywhere.
Also Let's Talk About Fictional Sex is novella length.
Novels are: Undercover Bridesmaid and Hot Bartender.
Query Critique means I will review and make suggestions/revisions on your query for up to 3 rounds or 60 days, whichever comes first.
I will update this post when the offer is closed. 

Monday, February 28, 2022

Sometimes What About is the Right Question?

I'm seeing this pop up in writer and fandom spaces again and I know nuance is hard and you can never truly define one thing so that it excludes all other things. But I do think people have latched onto the term whataboutism and are using it to shut down a lot of discussion.
If I show up at a breast cancer rally and start shouting, "Pancreatic cancer matters!" - I am absolutely engaging in whataboutism. Working to address breast cancer is a thing that needs done, and people working on that aren't saying there are no other cancers. 
However, if an organization that received a lot of negative press for treating an Asian American person badly and then that organization decides to provide a scholarship for Black Americans, people asking what their plans are to address harms done to Asian Americans are not engaging in whataboutism. 
Similarly, we see a lot of US authors resolve to not attend events in a state that passed some regressive and bigoted legislation, people asking have you checked the laws for every state you've already done events in is not whataboutism.
And some of the current conversation is about where to hold cons, and look, I know there's no perfect answer to this. But saying, I couldn't safely attend a con in this country is one thing. Saying that everyone saying well actually, here's a running list of atrocities committed by the government of the con you apparently happily attended is not whataboutism. And if you say, but I know how to call a lawyer there, I know what to do there, you actually aren't proving that country X is worse. You're just proving you know you have enough privilege in country Y to get out of jams. And look, this is a fair calculus. 
I went to school abroad but I did it when the idea that the entry laws might change while I was on the plane was unfathomable. I would have a very different conversation with anyone considering that now. 
Also, I know we are so so ready to people again, but you can skip a con. You really can. Or lobby for better virtual attendance options. These are all choices. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. This article was not the first I have seen comparing COVID 19 to smoking, but I think it's a useful analogue because while the greatest risks are to those who are unvaccinated (which yes, I am aware includes children and others who cannot get vaccinated, I have not forgotten you, small humans!) their illness potentially affects the rest of us, so the mitigations need to factor all of that in. 
2. This piece on skier Eileen Gu talks a little about the paradox of being Chinese American and the dual culture nature of things. 
3. As you may know, a real life story gave me the initial scenario for Hot Bartender. Obviously, I invented the rest of that story.  But I appreciated this follow up with these folks and hearing that they are still friends.  

Monday, February 21, 2022

Doing It With a Whine

There is a dog that lives near me. I have not, to my knowledge seen it, only heard it. The dog whines a lot. In the way of writers I have imagined many possible back stories for this. I do want to be clear, I have no reason to suspect the dog is being mistreated, I simply suspect something about the going outside multiple times a day ritual makes the dog unhappy. It could be dislike of weather, outside, strangers, seeing cars, being leashed, being unable to hunt down that squirrel, or any number of things. 
Because dogs need to do their thing regularly, I hear the dog a few times a day. 
And honestly, dog, I feel you.
The world right now hardly seems interacting with some days. There are many things I can't do, or can't do the way that I want to or used to, and yet, it turns out I still have to do them. And so I do. But I am not happy about it. And even if I personally am not making noises that carry around the side of buildings, it's not because I haven't thought about it.
There are still good things, and things that work okay, or not badly. And I still have the privilege of avoiding many things right now. But still need food, and to do laundry, and really, laundry in this economy and in a pandemic seems incredibly unfair. 
So, dog, I feel you. You're expressing yourself, but you're still showing up.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. An older piece, Ashley C. Ford shares her thoughts on red velvet cake (spoiler: not a fan).  
2. Jeff Yang shares why people who want to wear shoes in houses with no shoes rules, can just stay away
3. Adib Khorram writes about the stories we lose when there is book banning afoot. 

Monday, February 14, 2022

A List of Shout Outs

Shout out to teachers, who are facing unprecedented challenges, and trying to still actually educate folks in multiple ways, on multiple platforms, with so little notice, and while risking their lives, in often underfunded buildings.
Shout out to delivery folks, who have seen incredible demand, and have worked through lots of logistical challenges to get the things to people, often life saving things. 
Shout out to parents, who have faced incredible child care challenges, along with trying to keep tiny humans both entertained and safe.
Shout out to grocery store workers and food purveyors. Food is something we all need, and the work and challenges you have faced are so big. 
Shout out to health care workers. I hope you are now at least getting better access to the equipment you need as you work what have always been ridiculous hours. This is and has been an especially long journey in this country.
Shout out to everyone who works somewhere that has been touting lean staffing for years, and is now discovering that lean staffing suffers when folks can't work while sick, and when a novel virus hits, more people get sick all at the same time. 
Show out to folks who are in jobs where they've been expected to carry on, because the wheels keep turning.
Shout out to folks in industries where customers and users treat staff as peons, who are not fully human. 
Shout out to you.  It seems a little silly, but surviving a pandemic is no small thing.  Keep on keeping on.  

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. A cat who'd gone missing six years before turned up, thanks to a microchip.  
2. This article on the MarySue details issues international authors face dealing with the payment and other vendors designed with a North American bias face.
3. NPR Life Kit did a piece about how passion does not and mayhap should not be the highest priority in your dayjob. 

Monday, February 07, 2022

Books - And Access to Knowledge

It is not lost on my that one of the toughest years of my life (aka last year) my reading was on the high side for me. Sure there were lots of factors. I have generally had little interest in TV during the pandemic, which has freed up a lot of time. I started a new job and the schedule has often meant that I have reading time before I start, which has also been great for my reading time. 
All of this is a long way to say, books are incredibly important to me, not just because I am an author, but because I was and am a reader first.
Watching wave after wave of book banning is incredibly disheartening. Every book removal means many people, many of them kids, won't have access to that book. Sure some people who watch the news, may hear about the book. Sure some people who are very plugged into social media will hear about the book. 
As a kid I mostly found books by literally scanning the shelves in the library. And yes, I am an old, but many kids do not have control over their own money, do not get to spend freely in bookstores, may not even live near a bookstore. So they are finding books in libraries, be they public or school ones. Books that aren't in those places are unlikely to be on their radar. 
I recognize that this is like cycle 278 of book removals, challenges, and bannings in this country, but every time the hypocrisy stings. These books are not being removed to protect the children, they are being removed so children won't get ideas, so children won't ask uncomfortable questions about a society that allows atrocities and does little to prevent them. The idea that children don't know the world sucks is honestly only something someone who doesn't listen to kids thinks. 
Please pay attention to your local school boards and library boards and keep reminding them that you are in favor of kids being able to read books about the world we live in. 

Thursday, February 03, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. As an old who read a number of books for school that featured violence, war, racism, and sexual assault, it is not lost on me that the books being banned and challenged today are the newer ones, the ones about now, the ones that make it clear bigotry didn't magically end in the 1960's or the 1980's or whatever new date we're pretending.  Because many of the books left contain all the things that these adults claim to be protecting kids from.  All of this is preamble to the text of Randy Ribay's speech from ALAN, which he recently relinked. 
2. I think synthetic voices are better than no audio versions, but wow, audio narrators are worth every penny.  
3. If you want an incredible dive into the use of costuming to create differing silhouettes between two of the characters in "The Witcher", this tumblr does it. 

Monday, January 31, 2022

2021 Reading Tally

Reminder that I have nerded out on the reading data in the past very many times. Here's a link to last year, which links to other years.  
Total reads: 174, which ties my previous high in 2012!
4 were novellas.  One was a reread.  
147 authors (including those writing under multiple pen names). 
Oldest book was from 2006.  100 were from 2021, so more than half.  
88 were new to me authors.  
Most read was the writing team known as Kit Rocha who have also written as Moira Rogers at 10.  Some weeks you just need to binge a series, and well, I did.  Ann Aguirre was second at 7, and 6 of that was the Ars Numina series which brought me incredible comfort at a time I really needed it.  
May was my biggest reading month at 21.  
December was a close second at 18.  
27 audio, the rest were e.  About 70 of these were library books from the various library systems.  Shout out to libraries.  
Romance was my leader at 77, with contemporary being the top subgenre there.  YA  at 51. 
Reading highlights for the year are over on the newsletter - first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, and fourth quarter

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. In what will come as no surprise to those who have read Hot Bartender, I find stories of folks who find themselves in a different dating scenario than they thought they were in fascinating.  Brandon Taylor's dive into both the online discussion of West Elm Caleb and also Sense and Sensibility is fascinating. 
2. The ALA Youth Media Awards were this week, and there are some amazing titles on the list. 
3. This tribute to Louie Anderson and the ways his relationship with his parents informed so much of his work is wonderful. 

Monday, January 24, 2022

In Person Cons and Acessbility

I want to draw attention to this post by Mari Ness, who had hoped to attend Discon Iii in DC here last month and talk a little about my experience planning a workshop for the RWA convention.
As Ness's post points out a lot, lot, lot of conventions are held in hotels that are old. Partly that's space, partly that's price, some things happen in the various planning stages that are out of folks control. Discon in particular was originally intended to be held at two hotels, and then one of the hotels went bankrupt in the pandemic, so there are lots of things that happened that the various planners could not have planned for ahead of time. 
But one key point in this, is that communication of the issues is key.
The RWA convention, at the time I was planning my workshop was a large behemoth. So as I invited speakers, I was asked to have them fill out a form that asked, among other things, what accommodations they needed, and then that was passed on to me. 
I then communicated the info I had been given about the layout of the space to all my speakers.
And then I arrived early to make sure it really was set up the way I had been told. Now my workshop was first of the day, which gave me some time to alert folks if things needed to be changed.
But here's what I couldn't plan for. One of the escalators that made moving between the lobby and the meeting rooms easy was broken. Only one, but one that meant if you needed assistance now you had to use the elevator. The elevators in that hotel were not sufficient for an entire convention of people all trying to hit the same three meeting levels at the same time.
We were super lucky, only one panelist was late. (I had not warned the speakers but I am a big believer in starting on time and letting people join the stage when they get there.) And that panelist, as it turned out had sprained her ankle earlier that week and so had had to wait for an elevator. 
So I say this not to pat myself on the back. But here's an obvious thing I could have done. I could have checked in one more time with everyone to see if any of their accessibility needs had changed.
As someone who wore a knee brace for the San Antonio convention, I know accessibility changes. 
But back to Ness's post. Yes, in person cons need to do a better job of thinking about accessibility at the hotel booking stage. But also, cons need to be clear about what the space looks like, and what challenges it presents, because you cannot ask people to pay for an experience they can't actually enjoy. Or fully enjoy.
And I think people want to put a happy spin on it, but really, saying hey, this is the space we have, let us know if there were things we can do to make it better is great. 
Saying oh, it's all compliant, there will be no problems, is not. 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. Despite having read a historical romance last year about undersea cables, I somehow had not considered how that might be an issue post volcano in Tonga. Also, here's a lit of some resources if you are in a position to send funds here are some folks looking to provide help to Tonga
2. This teenager discovered that he could get vaccinated without parental consent if he was willing to travel a bit, and is hoping to make this option more widely available.  
3. This article looks at the tennis dude who's immigration issues made a lot of news.  I think in addition to the rules are for others stuff, there's a point that immigration is often challenging and capricious for people who are not followed by reporters and it would also be nice if that were not true.  

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A Knitting Allegory

I picked a sweater pattern that had unusual modular construction that let to a boxy but cute sweater. I have a tendency to picky boxy patterns and then wish they were less boxy even though a pattern doing what it promised is a me problem not a pattern problem. 
I had to reknit the front three times due to a reading problem on my part. 
And then I got to the sleeves. The pattern had you pick up the entire side and then decrease to make a very wide dolman-esque sleeve. I don't mind a dolman sleeve. But when the sweater is boxy, the dolman sleeve means a sweater that falls off your shoulders. So I figured, okay, I'll just decrease faster. 
And well, some of you know that if you decrease to much you basically get bunched knitting, so yeah, that happened. But I figured, well, it will block out. Or maybe if I pick up for the second sleeve the counterweight will balance it out. So I did that. And tried it on. If by balance we mean both sides bunched, it worked. I spent an evening trying to convince myself I wouldn't care. The bunching would be under my arms so who even would see it?
And then I ripped back and tried decreasing more than the pattern called for but less than I had initially tried. Less bunchy. 
And then I had a revelation. I could essentially just knit the sides together and start with less sleeve. Because the problem was I was trying to take a structure and make it something else, and instead I could change the construction. 
Of course then I overcorrected and made a very snug sleeve but well live and learn. 
So I called this an allegory because sometimes the problem stems from picking the wrong pattern, or from expecting that by adjusting a thing we can make it into something it wasn't intended to be. 
And sometimes you just have to rip back and try something else.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. As anyone who still thinks about that time a TV design show glued hay (an allergen!) to the wall of a children's playroom, and thought about the risks involved with TV design shows (Free makeover yay!  You might hate it, no!), this newsletter from Meg Conley about her friend's bad experience and also empire building, might be of interest. 
2. I found this article fairly honest about the challenges that reliable masking, staffing, and testing pose to keeping schools in person.  (I wish we were not calling remote school closed. But that's a discussion for another day.) 
3. This couple thought they were buying a blender, instead it turns out to be a new tower in the cat perch dominance standoff of their household. 

Monday, January 10, 2022

Information and Outcomes

One of the most interesting things in an episode of say "Leverage" is when after all their research and planning, they start the work and then one of the people they are working with zigs instead of zags. Because we all have that moment where we explain something to someone and they react inna way we didn't predict. 
There's a website with a recommendation algorithm that worked great for me when I first joined, and I noticed eventually it had too much data about me, that it would start recommending based on the last three things I had bought, no longer able to crunch all the data I had given it.
I feel like in some ways we all feel this way about the pandemic. Sure, a new virus means some of our information has been refined, and of course variants and new wrinkles, new zags. 
But also I think it's hard not to shut down and stop accepting new data. It's hard to spend this much time calculating risk, figuring out what things are in your control, and where you have to rely on the good sense of those around you. 
Snow and other weather events are reminders that we are all connected. The choices my neighbors make about shovelling and salting affect me too.
It's been a long stretch of thinking about our own safety and it's tempting to want to knock down the to do list by thinking less about others. But it is only collectively that we will see progress. 

Friday, January 07, 2022

Me in Other Places This Week

Over one the newsletter, the Fourth Quarter Reading Roundup is up:
And I was back on "Let's Go Steal a Podcast" to discuss "The Golf Job", come for our lack of interest in the sport, but stay for our amusement for a con that involves the realities of never having a day off when your job is saving people.  

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. There has been a lot of discussion about being friends with people of differing political views, that lumps together people who hold differing views from me about taxation and people who hold differing views from me about who gets to be people.  I think this Jude Ellison S. Doyle piece gets at some of this.  
2. This article talks about the Latinx legacy of the DC punk scene
3.  Would you like an article about movie cat trainers?  Please enjoy. 

Monday, January 03, 2022

RIP Ms. White

I heard that Betty White had died and then I grabbed a stick of butter out of the fridge to let it soften. I know Ms. White's career was longer than one role, for example I loved her work on "Hot in Cleveland". But to me she is Rose. During the pandemic I rewatched the all available episodes of "Golden Girls", and the show had more fatphobia than I had remembered and well, it's stance on sexual assault was not modern. But the idea of three (and then four) women who found themselves widowed or divorced, who started as roommates and became friends, who believed in the transformative power of cheesecake, well that part is all there. I love media about romantic love. Love is incredibly fun to write, read about, and watch. But seeing this fictional example of creating a life after your romantic love has ended was equally as powerful. 
I turned the butter into shortbread, because that was the dessert I had ingredients for, but I think she would have understood.
There are many remembrances, but these two captured the longevity and the wit.