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kit
05 April 2017 @ 12:21 pm
I don't *want* to leave Livejournal. I've been here seventeen years and have a paid-forever account and all of that. But it's thinly populated anyway, and they're rolling out these new terms and conditions that require users to comply with Russian anti-LGBTQ laws, which, y'know, no.

So effective immediately, I'm no longer cross-posting from mizkit.com to here. You can follow me at mizkit.com itself, or mizkit.dreamwidth.org, which is where all the cool kids are headed (or have already set up shop). I may even go so far as to port the entries over to dreamwidth, although, well, IDK.

Anyway, if you head over there yourself but change usernames on the way, let me know so I, uh, know who you are. :)
 
 
kit
03 April 2017 @ 04:41 pm

I grew up in a small town in Alaska. It was on the road system, which meant we could and did drive to Anchorage once a year, maybe twice, but my town didn’t have, say, a McDonald’s, when I was a kid. I remember when the Dairy Queen opened, and the Arby’s, which was less of a big deal because it opened after DQ, but the first time I went to McDonald’s I was around 11 and I froze. I had no idea what to order. I hardly had any idea *how* to order, even though I’d gone to DQ and Arby’s. But that had always been with my parents, never leaving me on my own to order.

I remember standing there in the McD’s, staring at the menu in a panic. There was so much STUFF and I didn’t know what was *good* or…*what*. I ended up ordering a Big Mac, because two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun was basically all I could think, so it’s what I got. (I thought it was awful.)

And that was the first McDonald’s experience for a kid on the road system.

I have a friend who teaches in a Yup’ik village on the west cost of Alaska. You fly in, to get to Kotlik, or if it’s winter–and the ice is safe, which it often isn’t anymore–you can take snow machine (mobile) up the river to visit other villages. There aren’t many cars. My friend brought the first *cats* the kids had ever seen to Kotlik. The nearest movie theatre is 200 miles away, in a town you have to fly to, to reach.

Three of her students have qualified for a Yup’ik language spelling bee in Anchorage this year. They’ve never competed in the bee before, and didn’t expect to do so well. Their school has no money to send kids to Anchorage, so my friend is running a GoFundMe to get them there.

They’ve paid for the basics. They’re hoping to cover all expenses, at this point. They’re hoping to be able to go to a movie, which they’ve never done in a theatre. They’re hoping to eat at a sit-down restaurant, which isn’t something that exists in Kotlik. They’re hoping to go swimming in a pool.

It’s almost impossible to convey how much it means for me to see these kids get to experience what is almost certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity. Kotlik is threatened by climate change, but most people don’t leave the village, and most of them will only move with the village when it has to move, rather than going somewhere else.

It’s not just that they’ve got the chance. It’s that they’ve got the chance through academic achievement. It’s no insult to the kids to say most rural Alaskan schools aren’t well known for their academic prowess. They’re small, underfunded schools in tremendously remote locations. So I am *so proud* of these kids, and I want so badly for them to get to do all of the things they have a chance to do here. I think about me, eleven years old or so, overwhelmed by McDonald’s, and I think about how amazing and overwhelming and exciting this is going to be for them, and I want it for them so much.

If you have a few dollars to spare, it would be amazing if you could help these kids do the things that an awful lot of us take for granted, and that they’ve never had the chance to do.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

 
 
kit
31 March 2017 @ 09:27 pm

Picoreview: Ghost in the Shell: I think it’s probably the kind if thing you’re going to like if you’re going to like it and the kind of thing you’re not going to like if you’re not going to like it.

I apparently decided the hill to die on was “female-led films need to do well at the box office” rather than “whitewashing is evil” and went to see it last night. Having only seen the anime once, and not having particularly cared for it and remembering almost nothing about it except a handful of iconic images, I thought it…wasn’t bad. It didn’t seem good, either, but then, I didn’t like the original, so.

The visuals were good. Excellent, even. Scarlett Johansson’s bodysuit/shell, in contrast to my recollection of the anime, is the least sexy thing I’ve ever seen. I suppose really enthusiastic teenage boys might be titilated by it, but seriously, it utterly lacks in titilation. I loved Johansson’s body language: she moved like a tank, stiff and unconnected to her shell, which was exactly right for the process that created her. I thought she went through a reasonable emotional story arc, although I kind of felt that Pilou Asbæk really did a fair amount of heavy lifting for the film’s emotional arc, without having all that much time on screen. He was good.

I don’t really know how to feel about the casting. From my perspective, as a white American lady, it was a problem. My vague understanding is that while many people in Japanese fandom (which is to say people who are fans in Japan, not of Japan) would have *liked* an Asian actress in the role, they didn’t expect one and figure Johansson’s at least got star power. On the third hand, the Major isn’t drawn as particularly Japanese in the anime, and there’s story stuff related to that. So I just don’t know. I personally would have liked an Asian actress in the role, but at the same time I didn’t feel that Johansson was badly cast.

A couple of very minor spoilers, more or less regarding the casting, behind the cut.

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

 
 
kit
31 March 2017 @ 04:37 pm

I wondered aloud the other day if I were to consistently get enough sleep, whether I would still be tired all the time. I recall an experiment in this field a couple of years ago, where for about two weeks I made a real effort to go to bed early and get enough sleep. After a couple weeks I felt so great I…stopped…

Anyway, after a very busy day yesterday I slept 11.5 hours* and this morning had a lot of weird dreams, the highlight of which was about a troop of gorillas living along the creek behind us. There were three of them, an adult couple and a younger male, and they were well-known all the way up and down the neighborhood.

But then they had twin babies, and I became a little concerned about my 6 year old and the babies (or, more accurately, their parents), so I called Dublin Zoo and told them they should perhaps get these gorillas and bring them to the zoo for everybody’s safety.

The zoo, quite reasonably, insisted that there couldn’t possibly be a troop of gorillas living wild in Ireland without them knowing about it. The whole thing turned into a rather intense discussion, and came to no satisfactory conclusion.

*I probably only SLEPT for about 9.5 hours, as this morning I kept waking up and thinking I should probably get up but I was bound in such comfortable sleep paralysis (I’ve loved that sensation ever since I found out what it was) that I didn’t want to break it by moving, so after a while I’d fall back asleep and that went on for quite a while…

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

 
 
kit

Nearly 8 years ago now I started the ‘war room’, a chat room for writers to log into and keep each other company while we write. It’s a combination of support group, inertia-breaker, guilt-inducer, and social space. People log in from all over North America and Europe (I don’t think we have any other continents checking in), and it works really well. (Michelle Sagara dedicated the latest Elantra book to us. ♥ :))

I wish I could figure out a way to make something similiar for more off-line activities work. Going to the gym, for example (or at least, exercising). The best way to get me to the gym is to have somebody I don’t live with expecting me to show up there. It doesn’t matter if they’re actually my workout partner; they just have to expect to see me there. Etc.

But it’s different to have somebody expect you to show up in physical space. When there are thousands of miles separating you it’s harder. Past experiments with “I’ll email you when I’ve worked out, and then you’ll have to, too!” haven’t been…I mean, they work for a few days, but then somebody misses either a workout or an email and the whole thing peters out, and it’s months or even years before it gets picked back up again. I don’t know how that can be dealt with.

I mean, at the moment I’ve got a bit of positive feedback loop going with my friend Ellen, who was inspired by my spring cleaning post the other day and then did one of her own that inspired me and back and forth a bit, but I’m afraid we’re running out of speed on that one. (Although I got the table cleared off, Ellen!) So I dunno.

Anyway, they (“They”) say to become a (relative) expert in something, all you need is to do it consistently for 20 minutes a day. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a 15 minute body weight workout that he says is all you need to get fit. (I’ve done it. He’s right. It’s a great, by which I mean ass-kicking, workout. Unless you’re already pretty fit, don’t try all four reps in your first workout unless you don’t want to be able to walk for a week.) Even overlooking DuoLingo, there are a ton of 20-minutes-a-day language study programmes.

I’d like to get myself doing those things. Arnie’s workout, studying Spanish for 20 minutes a day, drawing for 20 minutes a day. Assuming some lead-in and wind-up time for those, they’re half an hour each. A total of 90 minutes a day. God knows I could afford to lose out on 90 minutes of looking at Facebook or Twitter every day.

(Obviously there are forty other things I’d like to do too, but I kind of think managing 3 is a big ask all by itself, even if it’s HARDLY ANY TIME, so, y’know. Baby steps. Or at least, medium-sized steps…)

(And yes, this is like a combination of Spring Sunshine Makes Me Ambitious and New Hair Means I Could Be A New Person, Right, so, y’know. Stupid brain, or something.)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

 
 
 
kit
25 March 2017 @ 12:04 am

This is our family’s go-to brownie recipe:

Cocoa Brownies
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temp or softer
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk the dry ingredients together. Add butter, eggs and vanilla and mix. Scrape into a 9×9″ buttered pan. Bake at 350°F for 15-18 minutes, until barely done (a fork inserted in the centre should come out slightly gooey but not *wet*). Allow to cool. Frost as desired. (I usually use chocolate buttercream frosting.) Eat! Makes 16 brownies.

(This recipe scales well and can be used to make up to a quadruple batch successfully. I’ve never tried anything larger. We often make double batches, though. :))

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

 
 
kit
24 March 2017 @ 04:52 pm

My hair has been driving me increasingly crazy. I challenged myself to grow it for…three years, or something. Around the time Indy was born, until my 40th birthday. And I’m now a few months shy of my 44th and had kept it long, but all I ever do with it is pull it into a ponytail, or sometimes braid it, and eventually get the ends that are wrecked from ponytail holders trimmed off. And it’s just been driving me nuts. Not the weight, but the presence. The bits sliding into my face. All of it. Just hate.

So I got it cut off yesterday.

The hairdresser, whom I’ve gone to for some time and whom I have warned since the beginning that someday I would come in and tell her to cut it all off, still asked me four times if I was sure.

I was sure. She said, after a while, “It’s so weird to actually get to *cut* someone’s hair. Usually people are really precious about their hair and want a millimeter off. This is really strange!”

“Have you had short hair before?” she asked. “All my life,” I said. “Long hair is not my norm.”

“…I actually don’t remember what you looked like with long hair,” she said, upon finishing. “It’s like you’ve always come in for this haircut. This is your haircut!”

Which is true, but I still almost don’t recognize myself. Except it also looks more like me than long hair, so that’s confusing. :)

I’d told Indy I was going to get my hair cut almost as short as his. He thought that was pretty funny. This morning when he saw me, he gasped and said, “Cute haircut! It IS almost as short as mine!”

I managed not to use a gallon of shampoo (in fact, I was trying so hard not to I didn’t use quite enough!) but I forgot I wouldn’t need two towels anymore. It took two seconds to blow it dry and spritz some stuff into it for shape and then I was done and it was wonderful.

I figured my head would be cold and feel weirdly light for a couple of days, and I was prepared, upon walking out of the hairdresser’s, to go BRRR! Except I didn’t. It just felt RIGHT and FINE and GOOD. And the only time my head felt lighter was *immediately* after she took the first really big hunk off the back. It’s just felt *better* since then.

So I’m glad I whacked it all off.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

Tags: ,
 
 
kit
21 March 2017 @ 05:11 pm

I read an article the other day that said the average American household has 300,000 items in it and now I want to get rid of everything we own. :p

I mean, this isn’t really like a sudden new urge. I’ve been suffering from the Tyranny Of Things for a while now, and I keep grimly trying to do something about it. It doesn’t seem to get anywhere. More books appear. More RANDOM PIECES OF PAPER appear. I hang on to clothes in the hope that I’ll get slim enough for them or the fear I’ll get fat enough for them. There are unnecessary numbers of shoes. On and on it goes. And today I’m trying to clean the office. It’s not going well. Like, so:

oh look at all these rogue figurines do i really need to keep all of these they mostly just collect dust

oh look at all the art supplies i can’t justify because i never do any art

oh look at all the sewing supplies i can’t justify because i never do any sewing

oh look at all the bags i can’t justify because NOBODY NEEDS THIS MANY BAGS, JFC WHY DO I HAVE 8 CAMERA BAGS

oh look at all the unnecessary copies of my own books i have, why am i keeping french copies, it’s not like i read french

oh look at all the history books i have which are never going to be useful if i don’t read them so i can write books drawing from their info

oh look at all the great bookends i have but can’t use because i have TOO MANY BOOKS and they go from shelf-end to shelf-end

oh look a rogue wig & 2 white wigs meant to be test cases for a nebari/chiana costume if i ever got less fat/sewed again do i need those NO

oh look jr high & high school yearbooks? do i need those? no. i do not. their only value is briefly entertaining children. and yet.

oh look dictionaries of angels. am i ever going to write the not-exactly-post-apocalyptic fallen angels books? probably not. so do i need the angel dictionary? no. AND YET.

The really grim thing is despite appearances I do keep trying to get rid of stuff and it JUST KEEPS ACCUMULATING. Part of that is almost certainly that, for example, I managed to clear off enough shelf space to TAKE STUFF OUT OF BOXES. And I got rid of a lot when I took it out of boxes, BUT STILL.

Anyway, I feel like I’ve gone about as far as I can today. At least in this room.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

 
 
kit
20 March 2017 @ 04:20 pm

I woke up feeling really ambitious this morning, between the head cold and 6 hours of sleep:

I decided Ted should start working out and get in shape like The Rock.

(honestly, i have no idea where that came from but it’s so hysterical i thought it was worth sharing. i liked how *i* wasn’t gonna do this shit, no way. it was an ambition for TED. a really really extreme one! in retrospect, i thought, y’know, getting in shape like chris pratt would be a sufficiently impressive ambition. :))

As far as my own ambitions are concerned, well…I got home from bringing Indy to school and I’m still on the couch. I need to get the hell off social media. (I was wondering, somewhat grimly, how much, and what, I would accomplish, if I could manage to limit myself to 2 hours of social media time a day. Since I read like 40 books the 6 weeks we didn’t have internet, I probably have a pretty clear idea, really….)

A friend told me St Patrick’s Day was the traditional day for early harvest potatoes to go in the ground. Yay! I thought. Great plan! But my ambitions were scuppered by this cold. We spent the holiday watching movies and sleeping. Which was good! But not much like digging up the front garden plots and planting potatoes. My new ambition is to have them in the ground by the 21st, which, somehow, is tomorrow. That, frankly, doesn’t bode well.

My next ambitions may be to pull the drapes closed so I can’t see the rain, and watch some Farscape…

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

 
 
kit
20 March 2017 @ 12:41 pm

Picoreview: Beauty and the Beast: exceeded my expectations by a considerable margin.

(Also, irrelevantly, I was sitting between two little girls who sang all the songs they knew, and an older woman who kept wiping her eyes, both of which I found pretty charming. :))

The showing I went to go see originally was sold out, which meant I basically spent four hours wandering vaguely around downtown Drogheda (spoiler: it hasn’t got 4 hours worth of entertainment in it) so I could go to the next one. I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to be worth four hours of puttering around.

I was, in fact, feeling pretty…cautious about it, overall. I hoped I’d like it. I wasn’t sure. The animated film has problems, especially with the timeline, that I figured would be extant in the live action version as well. I mean, obviously it was a *chance* to fix those problems, but every time I think an adaptation is going to take advantage of BEING AN ADAPTATION and FIX PROBLEMS WITH THE ORIGINAL, it doesn’t. So I didn’t have much faith.

But the screenplay was actually much stronger and dealt with…basically every issue I had with the animated movie. I was astonished. It had *other* problems, new ones of its own, but that’s what I want out of an adaptation, as expecting perfection is unreasonable. :)

Having JUST written my own version of BatB ([begin shameless self-promotion] ROSES IN AMBER [end shameless self-promotion]) there were moments early on where I went “oh but that’s not the way the story went,” but I got over those swiftly and settled back in to this being a new, improved version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. And I really do think it was improved.

I shall have many thoughts, but not many spoilers, behind the cut.

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)