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.