labingi: (Default)
2017-10-10 08:29 am
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So My Home Town Burned Down

Yep, my home town has been one of the casualties of the California fires, specifically the Sonoma County fires. As far as I have heard, everyone I know is safe and well.

We don't know yet if our house survived. It's way up a hill where they're not going to get video from emergency responders driving by, and the mandatory evacuation is still in effect, so the tenants can't go back to see. All in all, as the photos start to come in, the damage is not as bad as it was in my head. The plants are going to come back fast, which is a comfort.
labingi: (Default)
2017-09-05 08:54 am
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More Carbon Offsets

Over here in Oregon, we are bathed in ash and setting temperature records as fires rage in the Columbia Gorge, and I have soothed my sense of frustration a little by purchasing 150 tons in carbon offsets from Climate Neutral Now.

It is true offsets are not the best answer. Like geoengineering, they can make us feel like we're doing something when what we really need to do is reign in our own carbon emissions. But they do do something: these UN-vetted projects are not only reducing carbon emissions but helping create jobs, education, and healthier local environments in the developing world.

As opposed to REDD+, which has been widely accused of exploiting indigenous populations in the name of industry offsets, Climate Neutral Now favors local projects that return benefits to the local ecology/economy. I encourage folks to check it out.
labingi: (Default)
2017-08-31 02:41 pm
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If anyone wants to join me in a small act of climate activism...

I’ve just written a critical—though, I hope, civil—letter to Rachel Maddow for her coverage of Hurricane Harvey, which, despite many interesting observations, was also twenty minutes of not mentioning climate change once:

I wrote her, as opposed to everyone else who hasn’t been mentioning climate change, because I suspect she really cares. And I suspect she’s under orders from her superiors at MSNBC not to get into climate change. She’s one person who, I suspect, if she were to get a lot of letters noting this omission might take it seriously and might even speak to her superiors about it.

If anyone else feels like dropping her a line, here is the contact page for her show, with lots of options for getting in touch:
labingi: (Default)
2017-08-21 11:40 am
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Good Eclipse Viewing!

We stayed home (in Oregon) for the solar eclipse. We weren't in the zone of totality, but it was still pretty awesome. Once the kids were pried away from screens, they enjoyed it. I really enjoyed seeing the crescent shadows in the tree shadows. And we did have a cricket come out.
labingi: (Default)
2017-07-20 09:53 pm
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Parenting: A Gender Moment

I was just reading [personal profile] veleda_k's great post on gender in The Lego Movie and commenting on how I worry about how messages like this affect my kids, but it put me in mind of a more hopeful recent gender moment with my son.

I've been reading him The Lord of the Rings, and we came across some line (I don't remember exactly) like whoever has the Ring, it will corrupt "him":

Son: Who's "him"?

Me: Whoever gets the Ring, whoever possesses it.

Son: But it could be a woman.

Me: That's true, but this older English from a time when "he" meant any random person, including women.

(Son looks at me like both I and the world are insane.)

Me: One day I will show you the Blake's 7 episode where Avon uses "he" (actually "his") to refer to a group of one man and two women.

(Son looks even more dubious.)

(Mom's heart is profoundly encouraged.)
labingi: (inu)
2017-07-08 09:42 am
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Reflections on Kagetora's Self-Analysis in Mirage 15.6

I've been rereading Mirage 15, and there is much to love, but I'm going to zero in on Kagetora's thoughts about his own psyche, which capture so magnificently how the human mind works. (And with apologies, there will be some comparison to my own life by way of exemplifying the text's realism. Yes, God help me, my life is like Mirage of Blaze—sometimes.)

Spoilers up to volume 15…Read more... )
labingi: (Default)
2017-07-04 04:59 pm
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Happy 4th of July, 2017

Happy 4th of July in a year with little to recommend it for America. On such a 4th, here are some things I am grateful for about America:

* The US Constitution. It is clunky in some ways and arguably suffers from being so much the prototype of modern democracies and, thus, less polished than some systems that came later. It's the first concept album of Les Mis version of a modern democratic republic, but if we didn't have it, we would currently be living under a dictatorship--and we're not. So bless the Constitution.

* The American belief in freedom of speech, not only as enshrined in the First Amendment, but as a cultural assumption. Yes, it has been abridged at times. Yes, it is under assault now. And, yes, it is very often used to voice idiocy very loudly.

But I truly believe that Americans are so deeply culturally tied to expressing their own voices that true diversity of discourse would be hard to radically suppress. America will not soon be North Korea. That is, perhaps, my favorite American cultural characteristic, for all its downsides.

* The grassroots resistance. It's only just getting started, but it's getting started in a big way. The pendulum is swinging left, and the serious move to reclaim democracy from corporatocracy is beginning.
labingi: (Default)
2017-05-14 08:07 pm
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Blessings Be on Robert Burns

Here was I feeling angry and self-righteous when Robbie Burns reminded me of this:

Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler sister woman;
Tho' they may gang a kennin wrang,
To step aside is human;
One point must still be greatly dark,--
The moving Why they do it;
And just as lamely can ye mark,
How far perhaps they rue it.

Who made the heart, 'tis He alone
Decidedly can try us;
He knows each chord, its various tone,
Each spring, its various bias:
Then at the balance, let's be mute,
We never can adjust it;
What's done we party may compute,
But not know what's resisted.

And I am rightly schooled. Thank you, Rab.
labingi: (Default)
2017-04-06 09:59 am
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When I hate being American (most of the time actually...)

Medicaid renewal hell has just opened for the year. I've just spent 2 hours doing my preliminary renewal application for myself and my kids, assembling about 10 pages of supporting financial documents, and starting a "paper trail" (detailing on what date I did exactly what in this application process) against the next several months of ensuing tug-of-war as the Oregon Health Plan repeatedly mails me to say my coverage has been cancelled because they never received the documents I sent them several times. (Bright spot: their forms are actually better this year and fewer documents are asked for, so maybe that won't happen for the third year running.)

This year I'm actually near the income cutoff for coverage (though maybe not once deductions are figured). (The cutoff for being poor enough to qualify is around $26,000 for a family of 3.) We'll see how they compute things. However, even if we keep our coverage this year, this will be a problem if I ever manage to have a career that pays a livable income. My employer has few health insurance slots and only for people who always work over half time--and I have yet to work a year there where I've been offered over half time for a whole year. The marketplace will be expensive. My partner currently has no insurance through his work (a contract position likely to end in 3 months), so he can't cover us on employer-based insurance. (He has ACA insurance now.) And this is the status quo: who knows what the Republicans might do.

Really, really tired of most Democrats not even mentioning Medicare for All. No wonder it's not part of that national conversation.
labingi: (Default)
2017-02-07 09:00 pm
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Linkspam of Proactive Things, Mostly for the Climate

Crappy day. In addition to the Trump Administration's daily attempts to end the world as human civilization has known it, my best friend's brother-in-law unexpectedly died. I'm going to respond to all this by taking a leaf out of [personal profile] umadoshi's book and doing an inspiring linkspam (though short by her standards).

How to search for a socially responsible credit card. (Word to the wise: It ain't Credo/Working Assets. They sold out to Bank of America a long time ago.) the United Nations' program allowing individuals and businesses to purchase carbon offsets, supporting green projects in the developing world. Bloody awesome!

Carbon Offset Program in the Philippines. I attended a meeting featuring a speaker who had been on-site observing this reforestation program. It seems legit.

Green-e Energy: helping individuals and businesses buy into green energy. I never knew this existed till today and haven't fully vetted it, but I see no immediate complaints through the BBB or just posted online. My first impression is it's legit.

Top 25 Retail Electricity Providers in the US: not solely geared toward green energy, but this list does include the company's green energy options as well as regions served and other info.

Donate directly to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: now more than ever, they need it.
labingi: (Default)
2014-03-27 02:58 pm
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Happy Belated Downfall of Sauron Day

It is a measure of my complete scatteredness that I completely missed Downfall of Sauron Day this year. I attribute that to three things:

1) It's usually closely associated in my mind with my spring trip home to California, which got cancelled this year for my adoption, then put back on at the last minute due to adoption delays, so I did get to Cali, but not for DS Day and in a last-minute rush.

2) The adoption: pretty much everything in my life since January has been measured in adoption timelines and bureaucratic delays. I've been on about 3-week watch to travel to Haiti for about 3 months now, and it does drive out most else.

3) Film scheduling: this has been taking up a lot of my brain power and has driven out other dates.

Anyway, I have nothing brilliant to say to DS Day this year. I really need to reread The Lord of the Rings. It's been way too long. And going into my second full year of intense reading frustration, it's probably a good time to go back and revisit a dependably good book.
labingi: (Default)
2013-09-24 04:56 pm
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A True Christian: Thanks from an Agnostic Niece

Recently my uncle, Bill Sanford, passed away at eighty-two years old. Bill was a minister in the Methodist Church. He was also one of the most purely positive role models in my life. I am grateful to Bill in countless ways for his loving presence, but I want to focus on the impact he had as a Christian on me as a lifelong agnostic. What a beautiful example he is of living the loving teachings of Jesus.

To explain Bill’s influence on me, it’s necessary to talk a little bit about me. I have always been an agnostic. I learned agnosticism at my parents’ knees as others learn Catholicism or Judaism. If I asked my parents if God existed, they would reply with “I don’t know.” This belief system was ingrained in me by the time I was five years old. In the years since, my sense of what agnosticism means has grown more complex, but I have never had the desire to be anything other than agnostic.

Being an Agnostic Kid in the United States

Compared to many countries, the United States, blessedly, has a high degree of religious freedom. But it is a nation culturally dominated by Christianity, and it is not always easy to be an agnostic child among a Christian majority. Here are a few of my childhood experiences:

In kindergarten, I had a Jehovah’s Witness friend. While she and her family were always nice to me, I was not allowed to play with her outside of school: my mother explained to me that they thought I was a bad influence because I wasn’t a Christian.

When I was five or six and playing with a friend at my house, I mentioned that I didn’t believe in God. My friend burst into tears and started walking for home (three miles away). As I followed her down the road, she explained, sobbing, that she couldn't play with me because I worshipped Satan. Finally I told her I did believe in God, which cheered her up. I think this is the only time I have ever flat-out lied about it.

At eleven, my lifelong best friend, a Catholic, noted offhandedly that I was damned. There was no malice in the statement: it was just a fact. I wasn’t a Christian, and only Christians are saved. (I should note that today's Catholic Church has a more nuanced view than this child's understanding.)

With such experiences, reinforced by cultural narratives like televangelists’, it is perhaps not surprising that as a child I was afraid of churches and resistant to Christian teachings. My mother dragged me to church once or twice for my cultural literacy. I remember sitting in Sunday School, being forced to sing “Jesus Loves Me” with a feeling of dark detestation at the fact that I was supposed to believe Jesus loved me because “the Bible tells me so,” as if we should believe everything we read!

But these negative impressions of Christianity were not my only childhood experience.
My Uncle the Minister )
labingi: (Default)
2013-06-16 09:14 pm
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Sunset on the Sycamores

Today I saw a stand of sycamore trees bathed in the yellow summer twilight like a painting my Maxfield Parrish. I'm on vacation in the California Central Valley with my father and back in the land of spreading trees.

It reminds me how from time to time I think about what I want my life to be like when I'm very old and in my final years. I always, always picture myself sitting in the sunlight. I'm always in California, in my wine country home. Of course, in my visions, the weather is always perfect, which California isn't. It's warm--warm enough to sit very still and still feel warm, but it's not too hot. It might be spring or summer or fall (or one of those crazy, global warming winter days--by the time I'm very old, maybe winter will be the only season when I can sit outside like that without frying). There are always oak trees and grass and quiet. And there's time at last to watch the light and birds and insects.

This tells me a lot about myself, about what I let myself miss in these years when life seems dedicated to rushing through life, as if rushing itself were a virtue.

Much of the rush is framed as the need for money. And I hope that when I'm very old, I will have money enough to sit in the sun and not have to work till I drop or find myself locked desitute in a cubicle in a convalescent hospital (like my grandmothers). I hope climate change will not have completely destroyed my oaks. I hope civilization will be intact enough that our lands will not be denuded and overrun by hungry masses. But I suspect that even if the world itself is in crisis, as seems likely, that beauty will persist and quiet moments if I look as I looked this evening.
labingi: (Default)
2013-06-11 11:46 pm
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Haitian Cooking Adventures

I had my second adventure in Haitian cooking with my fellow parent-adopting-from-Haiti and neighbor, M. We had pretty good luck a couple of weeks ago making rice balls and this week made potato and beet salad, which also turned out well. I would never do such involved cooking on my own, but it's a great chance to get together and talk.

Earlier in the day, I was a grip on a film shoot for a sitcom pilot by Ariel Castle and Maurice Welch. It was fun to be out in the world of film production again. It makes me look forward to production on The Eater.
labingi: (Default)
2013-04-09 12:13 pm
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The power of a kind word

I was grading essays outside Starbucks when a woman came up to me and said, "Thank you for being a teacher and taking the time to comment on papers." This almost brought tears to my eyes.

At a time when I'm looking at a high likelihood of losing one of my two jobs (the convenient one) after this term due to budget cutbacks and I'm one term with no class away from losing health insurance, when I get low pay and large classes, in a culture that doesn't bother to even include the humanities (including writing) in its "STEM" educational goals, hearing these words of appreciation moved me deeply. I told her so!

A few minutes later, she stopped by my table again and gave me a Starbucks gift card to show her thanks for my work. I was speechless. Thank you, lady I will probably never see again! And I'm glad I got a chance to say thank you and see your smile right then and there.
labingi: (Default)
2013-03-25 10:01 am
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Happy Downfall of Sauron Day!

Happy Downfall of Sauron Day once again!

Once again, I have managed to make it back to California for the day, and (unlike the past couple of years) the weather has been lovely. It gives me a profound sense of spring, and I have been lucky to spend a great deal of time outside, as I hope to today. I think Middle-earth folk would approve. With the possible exception of Dwarves, they pretty much all like it outside on a nice day. I don't have anything in particular to say about LOTR this year. I should reread it.
labingi: (Default)
2013-03-01 06:36 pm

General Update

Many thanks to [ profile] astrogirl2 for a very thoughtful review of The Hour before Morning.

In HBM movie news, we finished our Kickstarter interview video, which I hope to have posted soon (a bit before the Kickstarter itself). The movie is in picture lock and off to the audio guy (for another round).

In other writing news, I seem to have moved toward posting my fic directly to AO3 and bypassing DW and LJ. For anyone who's interested, my first fic to get this treatment is "On Liberty and Love", a slashy Les Mis gen fic of about 3500 words.

In reading news, I got a Kindle and am loving it so far!

In life news, I'll be moving in a few weeks (just across the river) to the house where I intend to settle in and nest for some years with the kids once they arrive from Haiti (another several months hence). I also got a local class to teach this spring, which makes me happy. :-)
labingi: (Default)
2013-02-12 11:28 pm
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A Heads Up

I will likely be drifting away from LJ/DW.

I have been less active on LJ and DW than I once was for some time, and most of the core group of fellow fangirls I bonded with back around 2004 has moved on to disparate things, etc., so I don't really feel much community here anymore. I rarely comment on others' journals these days and, unsurprisingly, receive almost no comments myself, and it feels a bit like shouting into the wind.

Therefore, I have been and will probably be more actively transitioning to other outlets. My fic will probably become more centered on AO3 (where I'm also labingi). My fannish meta will likely stay here for now, but if AO3 continues to support essays, my more serious fan essays will probably drift there too. Reviews or more general meta will likely end up on my blog at Goodreads or my more formal posts at the Geek Girl Project. Daily life stuff and movie updates are mostly going to Facebook. This feels very fragmented, but it seems to be how things are panning out in terms of fitting the right material to the right audience.

I expect I'll continue at least posting links to other platforms here for quite a while, and I'll update as my move evolves. This is just my first heads up.
labingi: (Default)
2012-09-30 05:19 pm
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In church today, the sermon started with Esther ch. 1 and the seldom told tale of Vashti, rebellious queen. This struck me as particularly ironic since today was the day I'd set to reread part 1 of "The Machine Stops" (which I've assigned for my writing class), wherein the main female character's name is... Vashti. There may nothing to it, but it's an interesting coincidence.
labingi: (Default)
2012-09-18 03:42 pm
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Comments on Romney's Comments

Thoughts on Romney's statements...

Romney: "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what."

Boy, I hope so.

Romney: "All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government..."

Of course, we're dependent on government. A population of over 130 million people is far too large to organize without its being managed through some kind of government. Does Romney really believe we have no dependence on government, i.e. we need no government? Is he, in fact, an anarchist? If so, why is he running for President of a government he feels is not necessary?

Romney: "... [47 percent] who believe that they are victims..."

I do to an extent. It depends on what you mean by victim. I certainly feel victimized by a social structure that enriches a tiny majority with ridiculous profits at the expense of funding for things like my--socially very important--job so that I'm underpaid and constantly in fear of losing my job. I feel victimized by living in one of the richest nations in the world but being alone among developed nations in having no reliable access to a doctor, in having my access to a doctor contingent on staying in job that is underpaid and I may lose anyway in a few years because my other immediate options would certainly provide no benefits.

Now, if by "victim" one means a mindset in which one does not put one's back into hoeing one's row (however horrible the soil), then I hope I'm not a victim. I do work very hard and dream hard, too, about possibilities for building a life I'd like. I'm like most Americans I've met in this.

Romney: "... [47 percent] who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. "

"You-name-it," of course, has no content. To this list, I would add "education." Beyond that, I can't think of anything I feel financially entitled to, except perhaps fair remuneration for seizures for eminent domain or of property by the police.

I sincerely wish I lived in a country in which 47 percent of the population believed in these entitlements. If I did, we might be well on the way to a genuine social democracy, in which all people are granted a basic right to life with basic dignity. Alas, I don't believe Romney's numbers are correct here. I encounter comparatively few Americans who really believe in this piece of common sense (even in my mostly Democratic town, in my mostly Democratic state).

Romney: "These [47 percent] are people who pay no income tax."

Here's an interesting article on why people don't pay income tax.

The statement that this 47 percent is identical to those who believe in entitlements is false: I pay income tax and I believe in entitlements.

(Romney text via Mother Jones)