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Blanche DuBois had a point

This image has been my icon on Ravelry for over a year now.

I created it soon after the Orlando nightclub shootings, borrowing the words from the sonnet Lin-Manuel Miranda read at the Tony awards, right after and in response to the shootings. (Go

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<p>This image has been my icon on Ravelry for over a year now.<br /> <img src="http://www.riseagain.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/love_rainbow_xlarge.jpg" alt="" width="240" height="240" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-4827" srcset="http://www.riseagain.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/love_rainbow_xlarge.jpg 240w, http://www.riseagain.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/love_rainbow_xlarge-150x150.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 240px) 100vw, 240px" /></p> <p>I created it soon after the Orlando nightclub shootings, borrowing the words from the sonnet Lin-Manuel Miranda read at the Tony awards, right after and in response to the shootings. (Go <a href="http://<a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2016/06/lin-manuel-miranda-tony-speech">sonnet</a>&#8220;>read it again</a>; it&#8217;s the right words for today. I&#8217;l wait.) World events ever since then have been such that I haven’t once been able to bear the idea of taking it down and going back to a ‘normal’ icon. Clearly I won&#8217;t be taking it down today, either.</p> <p>But yesterday a random stranger on Ravelry sent me a note. She&#8217;s een my icon and loved it. She told me about the pretty Black Lab in her own user icon there, then sent another note sying she&#8217;d read about me and we sound a lot alike. I&#8217;m not convinced of that part, entirely; for one thing, she added, &#8220;In my town there is no majority &#8212; we are all people&#8221; and well, I don&#8217;t live in Utopia yet. She also sounds a lot more cheerful than I am!</p> <p>So I told her the story of my icon, and why I&#8217;ve kept it up so long (typically on Ravelry, LJ and elsewhere I&#8217;ve always used pictures or drawings of myself, since the icon is there by my words). She answered back, </p> <blockquote><p> Paula &#8211;</p> <p>Hugs and more hugs and a spare one to put in your pocket (it does not expire).</p> <p>No, you are not a downer. Looking at your lovely icon reminds me of a tea cup I have in as many colors-red, orange, yellow, blue, darker blue, and don’t know what to call it.</p> <p>First saying is Whatever your mind can conceive and beleive, it will achieve.</p> <p>Dream great dreams and make them come true.</p> <p>Nothing in the world can take the pace of persistence.</p> <p>and on and on and on. Were it possible, I’d hand it to you right this instant. Full of tea/cocoa/coffee/cafe con leche or whatever you like best.</p> <p>I’l think of you every time I use it henceforth. </p></blockquote> <p>So like I said, I&#8217;m not entirely sure she got what I was saying, and she&#8217;s clearly way more cheerful than I am feeling today &#8230; but damned if I don&#8217;t feel a little better on account of these kind words from a total stranger.</p> <p style="text-align: right"><small>Mirrored from <a href="http://www.riseagain.net/wp/2017/10/02/blanche-dubois-had-a-point/" title="Read Original Post">Dichroic Reflections</a>.</small></p>

Some Yom Kippur thoughts

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I was thinking about the approaching holiday. Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Jews are supposed to repent for their sins in the previous year, and ask forgiveness from Lowe’s they have injured or offended.

I’m sure that this year, as every year, I have Knight at my husband, remove about my family, then annoyed at coworkers who are only trying to do their best, goofed off when I should have work harder, or not done the kind act that was in front of me, And for all those things I am truly sorry.

This year, though, repentance for everything comes harder. I suspect that the times when I have most offended others were when I was speaking out in favor of love and freedom against hatred and repression. I am not sorry for speaking out. I am proud. I’m sorry for those. Probably, though, there were times when I could have spoken better. There may have been times when, in the satisfaction of righteous indignation, I offended someone when I could have actually change their mind. I’m sorry for that. There may have been times when I was unclear, and thus alienated someone Who might otherwise they’re on my side. I am sorry for that. Maybe there were times I could’ve been more persuasive if I have chosen my words more carefully I’m sorry for those missed opportunities. here may have been times when I didn’t recognize the common humanity in those I opposed – not the true haters, but those with a legitimate grievance who then got swept along on a riptide of demagoguery. I know that happens with the best intentions: you don’t have to be much of a student of history to have seen it again and again. Did I ever put a hand out to those in the riptide? Was I swept along myself? I hope to do better in future.

Most of all, I am sorry there were times when I should have spoken up, but didn’t.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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starting the new year with an outing

Last night, I met up with 5 other local knitters, took the MAX (lightrail) downtown, had dinner at Kenny & Zukes (so I got to have matzo ball soup for Roash Hashanah dinner, yay – and it was good, too) and then went over to Powell’s to hear Clara Parkes speak about her new book, A Stash of One’s Own (a collection of essays about the yarn stashes that every knitter tends to accumulate, revel in or guilt-trip over, pet now and then when no one is watching, and sometimes *gasp* cull).

It all felt like such a Portland thing to do 🙂 It might not have been the most traditional way to spend Erev Rosh Hashana, but I heard a speech by a rabbi the other day in which he talked about how we try to begin the year as we want it to go on – I could deal with a year full of friends, fun outings, knitting and yarn talk, and good food.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

Toys

New iPad, complete with keyboard and Pencil. Am typing this just because I can, and noticing that my brain seems to be wired to think that keyboard+mouse is an inseparable set. I keep wanting too grab a mouse instead of touching the screen to select stuff. (This also keeps me using the touchpad when working on my work laptop, which actually has a touchscreen.) The iPad arrived yesterday, so I went to Verizon to turn in the old one for credit – good thing I remembered to ask about the keyboard, which the person last time I was there apparently had marked as having been a sale rather than an order. I only ordered it because they didn’t have any in stock – I bet that was wrong too, since today they found only one, that had been shelved in the wrong section. I got suspicious after noticing they’d emailed an order confirmation for the iPad itself, but an order receipt for the keyboard. And, come to think of it, neither one for the Pencil – I got a paper receipt for that one.

Next week they will be rolling out iOS 11, so I should be able to have even more fun with the pencil then.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

at least I get to knit on the way

Tomorrow should be interesting, if somewhat lacking in the sleep department – I’m traveling to the Santa Clara office. One of the better perks of working for Intel is getting to go on the shuttle (corporate jet) between the major offices. However, to get the maximum time there, I need to check in at 5:45 AM and I land back home at 8:30 PM (and still have to drive home, but it’s only ten minutes or so). This is way better than flying commercial, because you apparently just show up, show ID and get on, no major security hassles.

Also, I had a midyear review today (my first formal review since starting here) and was nervous, but the boss seems to be happy enough with me, so that’s good.

Meanwhile, I figured it was time to post a few more finished objects. Some socks, a toy for a coworker’s new baby, cowls (the blue one for me, the dark red for a swap)
and a couple summer sweaters.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

Charlottesville: two points

I have a question. Is there *any* accurate (non-alt-right) evidence that the “antifa” engaged in unprovoked violence in Charlottesville? I am seeing a few well-intentioned people saying that they deplore racism yada yada but that they deprecate violence on *both* sides.

I went combing through the news and the only evidence I could find of violence from people on the left was that the protests and counterprotests devolved into ‘taunting, shoving, and brawling’. Of course I’d like to believe that the Nazis started it, and others were only defending themselves – but either way, in my opinion, brawling with people who are brawling with you is waaaay different than

1) Arranging a riot and showing up armed and ready to fight
2) Trapping activists inside a church where they’re holding a prayer vigil
3) Surrounding and roughing up a small group of UVA students trying to defend their campus from interlopers
4) running your car into counterprotestors and then reportedly backing up over them to cause maximum damage

So, OK, I’m against initiating violence, but even violence has degrees – and defending yourself and others is not only OK but required. It’s not a binary “did it happen or didn’t it” thing, and while I’m perfectly prepared to call out my own fellow travelers for conduct unbecoming when required, I don’t think there was any here that needs to be called out.

While I’m at it, another quick question: I first saw that term “antifa” or “anti fa” used by the alt-right. Now I’m seeing it everywhere. Are we reclaiming it? Is “anti fa”, with the space, meant to mean “anti fascist”?

II.
I just heard a fascinating and somewhat depressing discussion on Federal prosecution of the man who killed Heather Heyer. Apparently this may be tricky for them (this applies only to the Federal case; VA laws may differ).

  • They may not be able to make a hate crime charge stick because, no matter who he was aiming at, the victim in this case was white. (Maybe they can still get that to stick because others were injured? I don’t know.)
  • The Federal KKK law will only apply if he turns to to have been conspiring with others, not if it was a lone-wolf attack
  • If they call it terrorism, that gives the investigation more power but they can’t prosecute it as terrorism because the Federal law only covers the international variety, not domestic terrorism.

Sounds like we need to rethink some laws. At least murder is still illegal.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

the second stage

I have been reading Victor Kloss’s Royal Institute of Magic series – a somewhat depressing endeavor, since I just finished book 5 and he died (tragically, of lymphoma at age 35) while writing book 6. They are fun, though there are klunky bits the size of speed bumps throughout. One question I’m left with is, why does everyone in the vignettes from Queen Elizabeth’s time speak and write in a completely modern style? Even a house furnished in the late 1600s and deserted since then has “all the modern conveniences”. Also, since most of the book is set in modern England, why is everyone white, cis and able bodied?

A thing I’m liking about some children’s books today is that more and more are second-stage diverse. What I mean by that, is that it always seems like when authors are trying to introduce more diverse characters, the first stage is always “I’m ____ and that’s the central issue of my story,” where the fill-in characteristic could be poor, Black, geeky, fat, gay, Jewish, unathletic…. whatever. Those books are important and I’m not putting them down; they serve a needed purpose for broadening the world of literature, for providing representation to readers in those groups and for letting other readers step in the shoes of people not quite like themselves – or maybe surprisingly like themselves. But they’re not what I want to read, at least not as a steady thing. And they have a danger: read too many and you might start thinking that being (poor, Black, geeky, fat, gay, Jewish, unathletic, trans…. whatever) is in itself a problem.

What I want are the second-stage books, and I’d like to see even more of them. If I’ve got an old book that starts with a few (probably white, cis, reasonably prosperous) children in 1903 or 1955 or 1978 finding a magic amulet or garden or creature and having Adventures, and a somewhat newer book that starts with “It’s Mississippi in the summer of 1955, and Rose Lee Carter can’t wait to move north. But for now, she’s living with her sharecropper grandparents on a white man’s cotton plantation. ” (like one Amazon just recommended to me) then what I want to read is where young Rose Lee in 1955 gets that magic and those adventures. I don’t want her to become a Nesbit character with brownwashed skin, either; she’s got real problems in her life, and no Psammead or half-magic coin is going to change the entire Civil Rights movement. But she’s still a kid, and still deserves Adventures. Maybe along the way they change a few minds in her town, or fortify her to face what’s coming in the next few years. Or maybe it’s a different kid in a fictional setting with fictional challenges, but whose ethnicity or gender identity influences who they are and how they defeat their particular bad guys. I’m flexible that way. 🙂

For some concrete examples, Rick Riordan does a nice job – more so with each new series – of having kids with a variety of backgrounds fighting fictional guys. I can’t think of a good example of a “Rose Lee Carter the sharecropper’s granddaughter gets magic” sort of thing, though I’d love to hear of one. The closest things I can think of are Adam Gidwitz’s The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog or maybe Chris Moriarty’s Inquisitor’s Apprentice – don’t ask me what it is about inquisitors! Jane Yolen’s Devil’s Arithmetic and Delia Sherman’s Freedom Maze do the opposite, sort of, using magic to send a modern girl into the rougher parts of her family’s history. Kate Saunder’s Five Children on the Western Front turns my question around, showing what happens when Nesbit’s privileged children face some real adversity. (Also, though I wouldn’t credit the series with very diverse characters, I was amused by a moment in one of Victor Kloss’s Royal Institute of Magic books where a character wonders if he’d have issues dating a half-elven girl.)

For adults, diversity might be a step ahead. I can think of a number of examples of characters who have some trait lower on the privilege scale being involved in fantasy adventures that happen more or less in our everyday world – the Twenty-Sided Sorceress series has a bunch. Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson is a native American MC, Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant is biracial, and I know there are a couple different lesbian superheroine stories in my Kindle’s to-be-read folder. Kate Daniels doesn’t live in our current Atlanta but hers is a direct descendent of ours and the population is realistic. It took me a few minutes, but I thought of a few historical (or alternate history) fantasies involving characters who are unprivileged in the worlds they live in- Gail Carriger has a trans character who shows up in a couple of her series (and Lord Akeldama, who might be gay, but doesn’t really count – he’s rich and powerful enough to never have to deal with prejudice). And there’s Sherwood Smith’s Coronets and Steel trilogy, especially the third book with its biracial heroine (and her Jewish friends) in Napoleonic Europe).

It has occurred to me more than once, though, that the above paragraphs can be summarized as “Sure, I’ll read books about diverse characters … as long as they’re exactly the sort of thing I already like.” I have no defense, except that they’re not the *only* kinds of books I like. But I do like them when I find them!

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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McCain (warning for spitting)

One problem with not blogging often enough is that you can get overtaken by events. I’d been meaning to write a post about John McCain. When he was diagnosed with the brain cancer, I saw a lot of posts on social media lauding him for being independent, with a history of putting country over party.

Pfui.

My awareness of McCain goes back well before his Presidential campaign, because I was his constituent during the decade we lived in Arizona (not that long after the Keating 5 scandal, in fact. I have a special feeling for him; I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s strong and it’s negative. It’s not the same feeling of utter disdain I have for someone like Ted Cruz, who has never been anything but vile, or even the feeling I have for Lindsay Graham, a man whose politics I’ve generally disliked but who has been known to surprise me with the occasional principled stand.

My dislike for McCain is based on disappointment; he’s had so many chances to be a hero and he’s failed at all of them. (In his Senate years I mean – did he use up his lifetime supply of cojones in his POW years? That would be understandable and even pardonable – but in that case, don’t run for the Senate!) So many times he’s stood up to his party to defend the country and constituents … and then they turned up the pressure and he crumbled. (Also, there was the Palin thing.)

Well, now everyone knows it. He flew back from cancer treatment for the healthcare vote, made an inspiring speech, voted for open debate (I can even understand that one – I do believe in open debate, even of reprehensible bills, so we can see who is reprehensible enough to stand behind them) and then promptly voted to take away access to healthcare from millions Americans.

Pfui again.

I don’t wish harm on McCain, because I hate cancer even more than I hate politicians who put power and party ahead of compassion or Constitution. I just despise him for not having the decency and fairness to want others to have the same level of care he himself is getting.

ETA: McCain’s people have rebutted the criticism that he gave a fiery speech, then promptly voted to kill the ACA, saying it was just a procedural motion to advance the bill to a vote, and that he would not vote for it in its current form. We’ll see.

Given that he has nothing to lose now, and unlike, say, Ryan or McConnell seems to have some idea of ethics even if he doesn’t always act according to it, this really would be the time to step up!

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

wellness and cooking

Update: Whatever I did to my chest muscles this time, it either wasn’t the same thing as last time or was a lot less of a strain. That one lasted for weeks. This one just hurt Sunday and Monday, and was better yesterday. So I did a light erg piece – still seemed to be coughing a bit and it’s always hard to get onto the erg after a couple of days off, but I finished 5K, anyway. My plan is to erg either harder (interval pieces) or longer today – I haven’t decided which. Then I’ll try to do a strength and conditioning class tomorrow, work demands permitting.

We plan to head out to the lake house again this weekend since we can’t go next week, so hopefully I can get in some real rowing time. (Last week I only kayaked on Saturday – they were having dragboat races so I needed to go to the upper lake and I don’t like rowing there. Too many snags and shallow places.)

Also a cooking note: last night’s dinner was stuffed mushrooms, salad and sourdough bread – I stuffed cremini mushrooms with breadcrumbs, mushroom stems, garlic, leeks, parmegiano, and seasoning. I liked them, Ted said they were OK but wasn’t wildly enthusiastic. Next time I’d use less of the breadcrumbs and more of everything else. Last week’s new-recipe experiments succeeded better: We had Welsh rabbit one day and a wine/mushroom sauce over flatiron steak another day. The sauce was easy and very tasty – basically just saute mushrooms and scallions in about a half stick of melted butter, add a cup of wine, simmer until it reduces, then add another pat of butter and parsley at the end. The Welsh rabbit might be a better dinner for winter than summer, but it was taty and filling. We had lots of the sauce left over, so Ted used it to make homemade mac & cheese later in the week. That was OK, but needed more stuff in it than just sauce and noodles – even when we have the Kraft version, we add hotdogs!

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

if you give a kid a sandwich

There’s a Facebook meme going around lately that’s bugging me. It says “I don’t want to feed hungry children so they’ll do better in school. I just want to feed them because they’re hungry.” I think it’s supposed to show the compassion of the poster, because they’re all about feeding the hungry instead of worrying about outcomes, or something. Like so many FB memes, it’s ridiculously oversimplified – as if you could only have one reason for feeding a hungry child.

The thing is, if you feed a child today, she’ll be hungry again tomorrow. It’s a bandage, not a long-term healing. I don’t say that to deride bandages – without them you can bleed to death before any healing occurs. Acute problems need immediate actions to give you time to ceate a systemic fix. But if you only apply that bandage, then you’ve still got the main problem – a child who isn’t getting fed at home.

On the other hand, if you feed that child today, and again tomorrow, and the next day, and the rest of the term, he’s got a reason to keep coming to school and the resources to pay attention once he’s there. If you keep feeding her as long as she needs it, she’s got more reason to stay in school.

Maybe that kid will grow up to be Ray Fields. Ray was probably the most financially successful person I knew growing up – he started a grocery store, built it into a small chain, and eventually sold the chain to Safeway. he still lived on our block because he liked it, but drove a nice car and wintered in Florida. He was a happy man, I think, with a stable marriage, a son he got along with and eventually two beautiful granddaughters. He was also a good man and a wise one; everybody on the block liked hanging out and talking to him, because he was always interesting and interested in you. He told me once that school lunch was sometimes the only good meal he got in a day, growing up during the Depression, and that it was the main reason he and his brother went to school.

Or maybe that kid won’t be Ray Fields. Maybe he’ll just be a kid who doesn’t drop out of high school, and who doesn’t have all the later health issues that childhood malnutrition can lead to. That’s still a pretty good outcome – and one that will help the kid earn enough of a living that she and her own kids won’t go hungry in the future.

So one school meal feeds a hungry kid so he isn’t hungry anymore, and a whole program of them can change lives and improve society. It’s both a bandage and a long-term solution. Pretty good for an intervention that isn’t even all that expensive (compared to, say, sending 100 Secret Service agents to Aspen and getting them skis). I agree that helping a hungry kid to not be hungry anymore is a worthy goal; I just don’t think it’s any reason to scoff at the long-term benefits of that school lunch.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.