Easily Distracted By Shiny Things
Meanderings from the City of the Red Castle
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9th-Jul-2014 10:50 pm(no subject)
Progress notes for July 9, 2014

Total words new or revised : + 60, -86. Or thereabouts; A purely editing day, on a stretch of story needing minimal editing.
Reason for stopping: The hour...
Tea: homemade milk chai.
Music: none
There's Always one more Quirk in the character: Of course Gerald would be a Michael Jackson fan. He last saw or heard Michael Jackson about a year after Thriller came out, and while it was still a top selling album.
Mean Things: Bugs laying eggs inside one.
Research: Top hits of 1983...
Books I'm Reading: Oriole A. Vane-Veldhuis - For Elise, Pratchett - Raising Steam
To-Read Pile toppers: S. Clarke - Gregor the Overlander, KAtherine Addison - The Goblin Emperor.
Inevitable Asides:

Obviously didn't go to the Folk Fest mainstage tonight. However, minimal novel progress can mostly be attributed to Joseph's complete lack of a nap this afternoon.

While I enjoyed Chadwick Ginther's Thunder Road and will likely read the sequel, because Norse Gods in Manitoba just works, it's definitely a man's book written by a guy. If I had to summarize it in one word, as I said on Goodreads, it would be "Muscular". Note, none of that is criticism, merely description.

OTOH, I'm bothered by Bechdel-failure and the only major female character being the Girlfriend (Even though she's a darn powerful Norn - the only other women I remember at all are her mother and great-great-grandmother. There might be a waitress), even as I liked most of the rest, and I'm pretty sure it would have been feasible to have another woman or two onstage and still have the same mood and attitude.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
8th-Jul-2014 11:09 pm(no subject)
Progress notes for July 8, 2014 (Today)

Total words new or revised : 248. And some firm cut and pasting from here to a future chapter, which also entailed some tweaking of an excel file.
Reason for stopping: Finished the scene. And it took longer than the word count implies.
Tea: Teavana Strawberry Rose Champagne Oolong. Because I wanted to watch the leaves uncurl, although it is also tasty yes.
Music: Back to the big music playlist.

Inevitable Asides:
Joseph has learned to climb onto the big kids' swings!

Did a nice board game night with friends, including one just back home from Mexico and two we don't see as often as we'd like.

Thanks to the absurd amount of rain we've been having (When the floods from the *summer rain* are as bad or worse than the 2011 Spring thaw floods, it's something...we're out of flood danger, but we have friends in Brandon and Virden, which... aren't.), I decided I have to swallow my pride and buy Crocs for Folk Fest. My regular sandals need a couple of minor repairs, which is bad enough - but slogging leather through the mud and wet I anticipate would probably finish them off. Except ... Crocs make some rather nice sandals now. So I don't look like I'm wearing Crocs. Win-win.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
8th-Jul-2014 05:30 pm(no subject)
Progress notes for July 7, 2014 (Yesterday)

Possible title sources referenced? - Not really.
Total words new or revised : + 800
Reason for stopping: The hour... which was an hour and a half later than I said I'd go to bed.
Tea: blackberry-sage decaf.
Music: Lord Huron - Brother, Vitas - I ask all Saints, Conjure One (Featuring Poe) - Centre of the Sun
There's Always one more Quirk in the character: Laurel knows how to case a joint, or, in this case, a church.
Mean Things: Doing the right thing should not involve contemplating B&E.
Darling du jour: She could try the dates of their other artifacts, though several of them were damnably vague, and alarm codes didn't tend to work well with "About 1600".
Research: Dates on those artifacts, the church floor map, Google street views of Tower Road, the name for leading in stained glass. (Because Laurel would know)
Books I'm Reading: Chadwick Ginther - Thunder Road, Oriole A. Vane-Veldhuis - For Elise (I thought it high time I finish and discuss this), Pratchett - Raising Steam
To-Read Pile toppers: S. Clarke - Gregor the Overlander, Katherine Addison - The Goblin Emperor

Inevitable Asides: Yes, I didn't write the days in between. Friday, I finally got out to See4 How to Train Your Dragon 2, which continues to push my happy buttons the way the first did, and spent time hanging out with friends. Saturday there's not much excuse, though I did get JoJo to a park a bit further from home to try him in a wading pool. We had a lovely picnic with friends Sunday (The source of the photo in my last entry), followed by a visit to my mom's place.

And JoJo's potty training has shown further successes. Which is good, as it's about to be all on my mother in law and possibly husband for a few days:

Folk Fest officially starts tomorrow night. And life gets busy.

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8th-Jul-2014 12:56 pm - The Facebook Monster
For reasons probably known to just about everyone, including fellow people addicted to the damn place, I just posted a version of this message to facebook:

In the interest of sanity and actually being productive when I get writing time, I am going to attempt to avoid facebook for the foreseeable future.

I will usually get private messages, as they come to my e-mail, and ditto invites, so I may appear on the site long enough to answer those. No longer. DO NOT TRY TO CHAT WITH ME if you see me signed in even briefly. OR, if you do, send me this message "You're not supposed to be here."

Otherwise, I can be reached by e-mail, LJ and Dreamwidth comments (Even on otherwise unrelated topics), phones (including text). Just not there.


This was the last nice thing to come out of Facebook, thought: A good pic of the family.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
3rd-Jul-2014 12:42 am(no subject)
Progress notes for July 1, 2014

Total words new or revised : 375
Reason for stopping: suppertime and time to wake up the JoJo...
Tea: Bot very good Pu'erh from a teabag.
Music: Huge Labyrinth playlist.
There's Always one more Quirk in the character: Apparently Heather used to have panic attacks. Not much of a surprise; I wonder why she doesn't now?
Mean Things: Someone else's panic in your own brain.
Research: Not really.
Books I'm Reading: Chadwick Ginther - Thunder Road, Oriole A. Vane-Veldhuis - For Elise (I thought it high time I finish and discuss this)
To-Read Pile toppers: S. Clarke - Gregor the Overlander, Pratchett - Raising Steam (Lucky find in a used book store this afternoon)
Inevitable Asides: As I posted on Facebook, I failed Patriotism 101 when I dressed JoJo first thing in the AM.

Cut for large photoCollapse )
And even after it occurred to me that I had picked the wrong shirt, I hadn't noticed the logo on the pants.... I changed him into his "Not only Am I cute, I'm a Canadian" shirt to visit his great-aunts, though.

Also, the only thing I bought in the Canada Day celebration up the street was ... more tea. Well, as Colin put it, "If you bought it and didn't drink it, then I'd have a problem."

Progress notes for July 2, 2014

Total words new or revised : +275, -~100.
Reason for stopping: The hour... I started after bedtime.
Tea: Decaf English breakfast with cardamom pods, a clove, and some cinnamon added.
Music: Heather Alexander's Midsummer.
There's Always one more Quirk in the character: But it's not always obvious in every couple hundred words.
Mean Things: Actually, Laurel's being rather sympathetic.
Darling du jour: She knew chakras were nonsense, but it gave her something to tell her brain that fooled it into getting better faster than "Get better" ever had.
Tyop du jour: N/A
Research: Quick double check of chakras. Also a quicker confirmation that chi was not a karate-based concept (It's Chinese, thankfully).
Inevitable Asides: Spent most of the day moving furniture and cleaning; Joseph's grandfather finished his new (twin-size) bed. Joseph was decidedly interested in exploring it, but nonetheless got into his crib to sleep. Just was well; no toddler rail.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
1st-Jul-2014 12:53 am(no subject)
Progress notes for June 30, 2014

Possible title sources referenced? - Not really.
Total words new or revised : 896, sort of (actual total is closer to 709, because there's a copy-pasted bit of text that is currently present twice in the file). I know this is progress in the wrong direction, but this particular section needs such a wholesale rewrite and stage-setting, it's not even funny. I think a lot of cuts will appear soon.
Reason for stopping: The hour....
Tea: Cornelia Bean's Pineapple-coconut black, mingled with English Breakfast decaf. Then a cup of warm milk wiht nominal amounts of cocoa and maple syrup (BY nominal I mean it bore a closer resemblance to hot milk than to hot cocoa)
Music: Huge Labyrinth playlist. Currently, Peter Gabriel - Steam. Other highlights: Eliza Carthy - Time in the Son, S.J. Tucker - Ask me Anything, Lennie Gallant - the Hope for Next Year
There's Always one more Quirk in the character: I think Laurel has a brother like mine.
Mean Things: logic doesn't mean what you think it means.
Darling du jour: N/A
Tyop du jour: you're an eight foot time
Research: Not really. I Am, however, debating sending an e-mail to All Hallows by the Tower and asking them about their security system. Trying to figure out how to make that not creepy. ("I'm a writer" helps a lot, as does being across the pond...)
Books I'm Reading: Chadwick Ginther - Thunder Road, Oriole A. Vane-Veldhuis - For Elise (I thought it high time I finish and discuss this)
To-Read Pile toppers: S. Clarke - Gregor the Overlander, Pratchett - Raising Steam (Lucky find in a used book store this afternoon)
Inevitable Asides: Joseph's big accomplishments for the day were:
- learning to blow bubbles himself
- locking his grandmother in the bathroom - only to take that key and try to fit it into the lock for the basement (This would have worked had he not been stopped. Not only same kind of lock, same key pattern. and as a point, we have a spare *inside* the bathroom.)

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
29th-Jun-2014 12:43 am(no subject)
Progress notes for June 28, 2014

Possible title sources referenced? - Not really.
Total words new or revised : I don't have this number for today. The word count as of today is 150,309, which will give me the baseline for the future ones.
Reason for stopping: The hour....
Tea: Tart Cherry juice.
Music: Huge Labyrinth playlist. Current;y,. The Piano Guys, Peponi
There's Always one more Quirk in the character: Not an exciting one, but Laurel does seem more practical and capable of foreplanning than she did in the early last draft
Mean Things: Downpour
Darling du jour: She stopped in the entry to wring out her braid handful by handful.
Tyop du jour: N/A (not no typos. Boring ones.)
Research: All Hallows by the Tower, especially the St. Clare Oratory, google maps suggested routes from Amsterdam to London, and relevant travel times. And that old picture of the tarnish-striping on the Pompeii Apollo.
Books I'm Reading: Chadwick Ginther - Thunder Road, Oriole A. Vane-Veldhuis - For Elise (I thought it high time I finish and discuss this)
To-Read Pile toppers: S. Clarke - Gregor the Overlander, Pratchett - Raising Steam (Lucky find in a used book store this afternoon)
Inevitable Asides: Joseph has had A Very Hungry Caterpillar since about 1:30 this afternoon. I have read it about 7 times, and he would have made me rad it more if I let him.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
28th-Jun-2014 04:10 pm - Brief writing comment
Oooh. Quite the rainshower going on outside. Again. The last two days seem to be a rapid cycle between partly cloudy and cloudcovered and drizzle and thunder-and-pouring.

Well, yesterday's work on Labyrinth certainly went in the right direction. A confirmed 1100 words cut, almost to the dot. (This is not, as it happens, a rate I will maintain. I hit on a spot I knew had a lot of dross.) Then after I went to bed I thought about the scene I'm hacking at and other ways to get it going that involve a bit less internal monologue about backstory and a bit more dialogue (Of sorts...)

I think I'm going to be putting up a series of progress reports for this one - it's always fun to have progress reports with negative word counts - although from July 9-14 I think I'll be scribing bits of Nemesis and/or the Lost Ocean story because at Folk Fest, it's easier to putter about with the Dana, and editing and rewrites are far easier on the computer.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
27th-Jun-2014 12:49 am(no subject)
I've been wanting to write a general stuff happening post but was kind of stalled by the fact that i had a heap of words sitting here in saved form on another topic. SO. Stuff happened:


- has been quite enjoying going to the park again, and getting outside.
- he also seems to be enjoying getting out of his clothes more. We've had a couple of interesting moments and had to get a bit more creative with his sleep gear.
- Began potty training in earnest about, oh, today.


- My in-laws are here (And were gone until yesterday for a week in Ottawa). Probably to the end of July, though the exact day of departure is still kind of open.
- The last patch of garden to be dug out this year was finally planted Today. This, a month after I should be saying this, has been par for the course for the year. The previous garden beds, done just over a week ago, have had days of morning sunshine followed by afternoon rain, or daytime sun and nighttime storm, or... from a newly planted plant's perspective, probably perfect weather, though the humans could have used less rain and more sun. It has been a coolish summer thus far, after our horrifically late spring.
- Mostly flowers this year, but we have tomatoes and cukes too (And mint). I tried a raspberry bush, but we'll see if, in its establishing year, any of the fruit makes it to humans. I may toss down some basil seeds just to see if anything comes; it's an annual here anyhow so no sweat if the season is too short for it to establish.
- Our neighbourhood bunnies include a bitty one who's possibly a baby but definitely adorable. Thus far, they seem to be favouring eating the dandelions over the plants I care about.

- My grandmother has had a steady decline in her health, and the end result is that she is now in a nursing home, albeit on the low-care end as far as they're concerned. Her mind is fine but her strength is gone and she needed a lot more help than Mom and her other children and grandchildren could give - and more than home-care alone would support. The place she's in seems nice as these things go (more after hearing someone else's story about the place her aunt is staying), with her own room and a fair amount of respect. The big disadvantage is that it's far across the city from pretty much everyone's place. She's on a waiting list for a closer one.
- Even grandma, now she's there, seems to agree this is an improvement in her life. As long as her kids continue to visit. Next step; Get her the hearing aid she was supposed to be being fitted for right when her last hospital stay began. (Literally, as in they had to cancel the appointment)
- The symptoms of tiredness etc Mom was having, and even some of the sadness she attributed to the care for her own mom, proved to be B12 deficiency, and having learned that, she's already improving, after just a few days of it. (Jeff claims placebo effect. He would. But even if he's right, I think Mom's happy at any improvement. :P )

- A nightmare, an old story idea, and a second nightmare seem to be coming together as yetanother vague idea for novel or at minimum novella, this one about a world where everyone has one of two kinds of dopplegangers, one usually evil (Nemeses) and one usually not (Greens). And a weird creepy take on faerie and attempts to lure children away from the mortal world. And evil ice cream. For now I've been using the code name Nemesis, though the only Nemesis so far on screen is actually a good guy. I'm debating about whether he's up front about the fact or not.
- The issue I have with this is that I already have one relatively new half-baked story idea that's about perfect for using for NaNoWriMo if I want to participate again. I don't need another. But I have at least one scene to write along with all the notes I've scribbled so far before I set it aside wholesale.
- Otherwise, I have just switched from trying to make forward progress on older works and into the (much dreaded And much anticipated, at least by me) rewrite for Labyrinth. So far it's been the extremely crude cut and paste, forcing scenes into what seems like a reasonable order from the two separate files I had (there being two separate plotlines), and almost no in-scene work other than a few typos. I'm half afraid skimming over it enough to organize the scenes and move them around has already made me too aware of what's on paper to rewrite it with the harsh objectivity the job requires, but I'm gonna give it a go anyhow. (The other possibility is that it has given me the shape of the story sufficiently firmly that I know what I'm aiming for much better and can thus make my rather shoddy prose that much closer to the ideal in my head.)
- My main ambition is that by the end, I *will* have a better title, and fewer total words. (I would rather 120 than the current 150, and I know several spots I dither and the characters just talk -- I also know of at least two scenes that need writing out, alas.) I make zero promises of quality. :P

- Folk fest getting fearfully awesomely close.
- Fringe soon after. It's THAT month coming, alright.
- Life feels pretty good overall.
- Books recently finished, all pretty good: Silvia Moreno-Garcia's This Strange Way of Dying, Sherwood Smith's Banner of the Damned, Chris Hadfield's An Astronaut's Guide to life on Earth.
- Smith's book took me a while; it starts at what feels like a slow pace, and it's only afterwards that one realises how very important all that puttering about in Colend and Colendi politics and romances and their more-alien-than-it-first-seems mindset is - how much MORE important than the "action", ie, violence, which the lead finds so reprehensible yet which we as readers are likely to find more familiar ground. Also, the unreliability of the narrator (who claims, correctly, to be able to state the definite truth about other peoples' opinions and perspectives) doesn't become clear, or relevant, until about halfway or more. and then it starts getting scary how much she denies - to herself - along the way down. I was actually reminded a bit of my reaction to Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, and how it felt at the start, because it was so alien, and how it took time to sink into the culture and grasp what was going on from that internal perspective (Or at least the reader/watcher's illusion thereof).

- painting the mural has been going painfully slowly (As in very few opportunities to do so) and I've mostly been working on landscape details, but here's an update pic:

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6th-Jun-2014 12:26 am - Compassion and Superiority
Not sure this is a terribly profound thought, but lately it has been my thinking, and it seems to hold up against a large number of tests, that a lot of modern conflicts - between genders, between political sides, among policies - can be summed up as a battle between compassion, and the desire to feel superior.

Complaints about the welfare system or publicly supported health care? On one side, "We don't think any person should starve or die of preventable sickness just because they can't afford food and hospital time o their own." versus "*I* work to earn my benefits. *They* just laze around getting money for nothing." A feeling of superiority over the poorer person. (Also a divide and conquer tactic by the rich to keep the almost-poor and the poor from noticing who's really taking all the money. But then again, when you look at the weapon used...)

Complaints about feminism and women's rights? (Or anti-racism. Or Gay Rights. Or trans* rights) A disturbing number of them boil down to "I see the women/black/gay as my inferior (and my potential property). I am better than them." Which is often defeated by people who actually look at what the experience of being (female, gay, black, trans*) is like. (Superiority is the tool of the Trans-exclusionary Radical Feminist, too; cis women are "better" than trans women in that worldview. Before yet another person brands me a man-hater.)

I'm also at a loss to see where superiority over another group EVER has remotely the benefits of compassion to society as a whole, rather than to a handful of often already-on-top individuals.

And I'm finding it a good way to frame things to make me rethink some of my own blind spots; am I just doing this because I feel superior? If so, what makes me think I am?


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7th-May-2014 11:03 pm - Last Unicorn Tour and SQUEEE
While I can't quite give it as high an acclaim as matociquala, the Last Unicorn has a pretty strong place of honour in my childhood formative experiences. I showed the movie for both my seventh and eighth birthdays (I think. Might have been eighth and ninth) by accident, and while I was a bit embarrassed at the gaffe, I also couldn't understand why my friend was complaining. I cannot at this late date say whether I read the book before or after seeing the movie, but it was definitely in close proximity, though I think I understood the book and the differences better ... later.

I've rewatched the movie semi-regularly since, rather quirky German-peasant animation style and all. I got seriously peeved when, in my sixth-grade year or so, a second grader got into the creative writing anthology our school division put out by literally rewriting the plot of the movie in a single short paragraph, because obviously the teacher should have KNOWN it wasn't original. (Where I was writing, seriously, a fantasy-based tragic melodrama.) And I had some distinct stretches of being All About Unicorns. These days, I try to restrain that, partly because of some of the associations that have attached themselves to unicorns with rainbows and hearts and My Little Pony pastels and sentiments**. (Although a longtime favourite sweater has unicorns, hearts and flowers on it, and pastel pink and purple touches, it's partly so because it looks nothing like that description probably made you imagine. And if I'd been thinking straight, I'd have been wearing it on Monday. oh, well.)

The last time I reread the book was February or March somewhere. I hadn't in some years, and I kept thinking I should. And the writing, oh god, the poetry. Yes, the book is as good as they say.

And the germinating seed for the Pretty Little Horses mural, before I ended up going in an actual horsey direction, was wondering if it was even possible to make a giant unicorn mural and not have it be considered girly. I thought a good starting place would be basing the unicorn directly on a warhorse or a workhorse, something big and not at all dainty, and probably brown or bay. This is enough against my personal conceptions of unicorns that I ended up with actual horses.

Monday Night was the Winnipeg stop in the Last Unicorn Tour, showing the film in full theatre and with Peter S. Beagle present to talk about it, and anything else his fans want to ask.

Officially it was a sold out show. Less officially, they ended up moving it to a bigger theatre and could have fit some extra people (Sorry, senekal, I didn't know in time to reach you). I arrived late enough that even without having had supper I opted to stay in my seat and not vanish to hunt nibbles.

I went, and met up with some friends there.

The talk was entertaining. I asked something I've occasionally wondered before, which was whether Beagle, who is a musician, had ever considered putting his own songs and lyrics into the movie, since they run throughout the book and even get the last word. The answer was that he was just so grateful that instead of the guy in charge of the studio doing it himself like usual (With the obvious expected results re: quality) they'd gotten a professional musician he respected to write for the movie. Which, fair enough. It's not like the music is, oh, Ladyhawke... even though Mia Farrow cannot pull off her song, I LOVE the main theme, and I like some of the other songs and the majority of the incidental music. But I always thought Beagle's own lyrics would have been an even quirkier counterpoint. Especially as a cure for the "standard love song" trope.

I liked better his added admission that the lyrics, as well as being his nod to Tolkien in existing at all, were also the one part of the book he actively enjoyed writing.

My favourite answer from the Q&A was actually Peter's admission that there's exactly one character in the book based on a real person, and it's the only time he has ever done it as such; the butterfly is based on himself. (I know exactly how those sorts of random-association song sets can go...)

I also liked his description of starting the first draft of the book.

Then they had a draw for a bunch of swag. Being the oldest among my friends, I was the fan for the longest. But for various reasons, when the draw came up, I was cheering for [personal profile] leonacarver. Partly because really I don't need a lot more swag, and partly just because she's awesome (I would have been just as pleased for A or T... I think in all honesty I was prioritizing writer over artists because Beagle is also a writer, though he said later he's from a rather artistic family). So when the final prize came up, a t-shirt whose detail was kept hidden, and also involves ending up down by the stage getting your picture taken with Peter, I was genuinely startled to have my number called.

(Squee!) I e-mailed after the fact to ask if I could get a copy of the picture. I probably look horrid, but hey.

So the story behind the shirt is as follows: apparently, until Peter S. Beagle wrote the line "The Unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone." they can find No Record of anyone else who'd ever written about a FEMALE unicorn.

Of course, these days, as I noted above, the unicorn as feminine thing is ubiquitous, painfully so.** Thus:
cut for some large photos, some more blather and the twice-referenced footnote.Collapse )

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
13th-Apr-2014 03:58 pm - Picking Apart the Privilege Test
“Every organization appears to be headed by secret agents of its opponents.” (Robert Conquest)

The above quote is one of many that live on the sidebar at Making Light. And it doesn't just apply to organizations. If anything, it seems to me to apply even more strongly to ideologies.

There's a Buzzfeed post that's ostensibly a privilege test but makes me wonder if it wasn't designed by someone who disagrees with the concept of social privilege and really wants to undermine people who actually try to use the concept in their discussions.

I do have some issues with the idea of privilege, and Nimue Brown here lists an entire set of ways it's overused and misused, many of which are worth discussing. As I say in a tl:dr comment to Nimue Brown's article, I find the problems with it to be balanced by the things the concept has allowed us to talk about that we previously couldn't address, but I did see where she was coming from.

But. This quiz.

So, I get about a 62/100, "yes you are somewhat privileged", which seems fair; I'm a bisexual woman, but I live in a country and a family and among subcultures where my sexuality is a serious non-issue, and on every other axis, I'm basically well off (White, in Canada, middle-classed now and always have been, cisgender, able-bodied, married to a man, in a Christian church, neurotypical, College degree.) If anything, I think my score ought to be higher (more privileged). The only things I could do to be more privileged are to be male (assigned so at birth, that is), be completely straight, and be outright rich.

But I know several people who got scores in the 30s and 40s that don't feel the test remotely accurately describes their actual level of privilege - they are in their own opinion and awareness much more privileged than that reflects. (One of them was a straight white male in a steady job who owns a home.)

In other words, the test is confirming the opinion of those opposed to the concept of privilege, and those who agree with the concept are finding it unsatisfying and inaccurate.

Just going through the test, I could see why.

1) It assumes, but does not say, that this test is skewed to the US first, to North America in general second, and to Europe and European Colonies/ex-Colonies overall.

Living in North America, with the probable exception of living on a First Nations Reserve, already adds a pile of privilege points. More in Canada with its vastly greater access to health care. I understand that no such test can cover all the world but failing to acknowledge that focus in the preamble is already a serious point against the test genuinely trying to show the variety of privilege.

2) All questions are weighted equally. Thus "I've never been raped" is counted the same amount of privilege as "I don't know what Sallie Mae is." or "I feel myself to be physically attractive." Really?

I can quite easily come up with two sets of five questions each out of this list which would reveal VASTLY different levels of privilege or lack thereof to the majority of readers. Weighting the questions as more than one point each out be tricky, as the exact severity of each is subjective, but not to the tune of a near thirty-point difference between me and someone who would look substantively similar in privilege to me from an external perspective.

3) it doesn't account for temporal change. Some of the privileges, such as weight, health, and money/class, can and have changed for some people over time. These leave scars, I grant you (Abuse even more so), but to the extent that a person who *ever* suffered them is forever and always counted as exactly the same level of privilege they were at *while* they were happening? A poor kid who is now as an adult working a well paying job with a good education is still counted as a poor kid who lacks money/class privilege. Sorry. I was sexually assaulted *once* when I was twelve. As a 37 year old woman, this is NOT something I think reduces my privilege to the same degree as it would someone to whom it was fresh.

4) Let's count.

Of the questions:
- 9 are about race, though you can count 2 or 3 of the ones about religion as having crossover here.
- 14 are about sexuality
- 3 are about transgender, genderqueer and fluid gender identity.
- 5 are clearly meant to be about sexism (Focused on male/female gender relations), but some also apply to more fluid gender identities.
- 2 are sexual harrassment/assault, and rape, which sorta fit with gender but should be their own thing.
- 23 are wealth/class.
- 8 are education related, but with a strong overlap with wealth. (I will note I put "I had my own car in High School" under wealth not education.)
- 3 are questions about one's parents.
- 12 are questions about mental and physical disabilities, if you count the one about *affording* a therapist as in this category and not yet another one about wealth, and if you count the "I've used prescription drugs recreationally", which, um, what? Also, NB, only TWO of these questions are about physical disability, and one is the ability to afford medication, which, again, yet more overlap with wealth-as-privilege.
- 4 are questions about weight and "attractiveness".
- 11 are questions about religion, though a couple of them cross over into the "Race" category above.
- 2 are about bullying, and
- 4 are about general comfort with one's own identity.

0 about age, and there are issues with how we treat the elderly. 0 about abuse outside the sections on rape and bullying. While I agree that "Not abused" really shouldn't be considered a "privilege" by the original definition of the word, once you're including bullying and sexual assault, that argument is long out the window.

Are we actually saying that a poor cis straight Christian white able-bodied person is seven times as oppressed as a transgendered person? Are we saying that being raped is twenty-three times less damaging than poverty? Does someone gay/lesbian get hit with four times as much prejudiice and phobia as someone transgendered?

NB: I am *NOT* doubting or dismissing poverty as a major source of prejudice, or a badly ignored injustice or something we should be doing our best to eradicate. It's BIG. Jesus was all about taking care of the poor, and so should we be. But this test literally spends more questions on poverty than it does on race and religion combined.

If this test is in fact designed by someone to mess with the idea of privilege, making sure that any white male who's counted pennies EVER (even if it was years ago) shows up as just as little privileged as a black lesbian is a sure way to stir up trouble.


5) Some specific questions feel painfully badly chosen or badly written:
- I have never been the only person of my race in a room.
This one is the THIRD question, and it's the most amazingly poorly phrased question. ANYONE who has ever been alone in a room is the only person of their race present. BY definition, I qualify right this instant. Even if one accounts for the need to have another person present for the question to be fair, well, I would only have to talk alone once with one person of another race to qualify. I could even be using racist language that would embarrass Vox Day while I harangued them and yet I could use it as an excuse for not having to check off this box and admit to being privileged.

I took a couple of bus routes to work for a while that, going through a neighbourhood that's predominantly First Nations and new immigrants, occasionally meant I really was the only white person in the space for the duration of a stop or two. I still checked this off, because I knew what the question *meant*, and there was nothing about taking that particular bus or those particular couple of minutes that threatened me or isolated me racially in a way that was meaningful to my life. Not the way being the *one* black person in a college class, or the one Asian in a company staff meeting does.

- I have never been discriminated against because of my skin color.
I know white people who would count any request to leave a "Blacks only" or "First nations meeting" immediately as discrimination and check this off. Question as written feeds the trolls.

- I have never been called a racial slur.
I call *myself* a honky. Does that count? Obviously not, but again, those who want to bend the definitions of the test can, quite easily... the guy who sneered at the burlesque fundraiser for a women's shelter as "Do-good white people" was an ignorant jerk, but I don't call that set of words, even with their acknowledgement of the race of the majority, a racial slur the same way the n-word is.

Moreover, under the sexuality part of the questionnaire, they ask three questions about sexuality based slurs. Which immediately treats being called a "fag" *and* a "fairy" once each as twice as bad as a black person being called the n-word on multiple occasions. Which, pardon me, but note which one I don't feel I'm able to WRITE without crossing a line.

- I have never been sexually harassed or assaulted.
These are not ONE question. This is two questions. The difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault is not small. Someone who HAS suffered both should damn well be granted two points against privilege. (I say that having been assaulted but *not* harassed.)

- I don’t know what “Sallie Mae” is.
I didn't, but not because I didn't get student loans... wrong country, dude.

- I’ve used prescription drugs recreationally.
Maybe this is a marker of privilege because it's something only more well off people can do? I mostly just don't get its relation to the actual concepts of privilege.

- I have never worked as a waiter, barista, bartender, or salesperson.
Because these are the only minimum wage or near options out there? Or maybe working an "unskilled" job in a factory doesn't count because... ? This could have so easily been fixed with "I have never worked for an income below a living wage" or some equivalent.

- There is a place of worship for my religion in my town.
I wouldn't have seen a problem with this one, but at least one person said that as an agnostic, they still felt they didn't have a place of worship. Which I think is "Spirit vs. letter" fuss - but then again, it does fit into "Only member of your race in a room" level of poor phrasing to even allow for that kind of misinterpretation.

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10th-Apr-2014 05:35 pm - A Ramble on Worldbuilding.
This is purely self indulgence, written because it interests me. It's the first time I've had to do this much intensive almost ground-up worldbuilding since Labyrinth was first started (Because Labyrinth is set in a wholly different world). Every other story I've had to *refine* extant worldbuilding, do further discovery, but the basic sketches were MUCH more firmly set.

Cut because seriously this goes on a long while.Collapse )

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9th-Apr-2014 04:39 pm(no subject)

I'd been working pretty steadily on the Blood Rose, until I hit a point where, as I put it to Colin, the characters are trying to do the sensible adult thing and I have to figure out why they can't. (This feels like the opposite of my usual problem these days, where I have to remind myself when writing that teenagers aren't always sensible and often do give in to their first impulses. In this case, though, it's grown-ups who ahve to be stopped by some circumstance from doing the best possible action in their situation and the "But really secretly I want to just give up and do the wrong thing" while present, isn't remotely sufficient even if it does mean they'll breathe easier at an excuse.

Into that pause a brand new story idea started poking itself.

It's a portal fantasy and a sea voyage, and at least partly the fault of reading Ana Mardoll's often-excellent Narnia Deconstruction posts. but it's also not just "Let's fix the Voyage of the Dawn Treader with Liberal Feminist politics" which sounds like a recipe for a pretty awful story to ME - it may have started sprung by an idea in those deconstructions but it's wandering all kinds of places.

See, on my map of my fictional world, there's an ocean which takes up pretty much all of one hemisphere (Like the Pacific, but possibly even more so, as the land masses on the other side don't add up to the size of all Earth's continents). And it's canon that NOBODY goes there. Well, you know, there's ocean trade to some close-by islands and the like, but the heart of it? Is a big no-no. All that's really known or suspected is that what's there is part of why most selkie cultures are pathologically against the acquisition of gold or wealth. And that sometimes boats come back, but when they do, nobody on board can remember their own names or families, much less anything they saw there.

And of course, even I, the maker of the world, who has at least a couple of paragraphs sketching out pretty much every other land, even the ones I have no stories to write about (The whole southern continent - which unlike our Antarctica goes far enough north to have sapient-habitable places) didn't really know what was up with it.

And now a God is sending one poor vessel right in there, on what even He isn't pretending is anything but a suicide mission - and he's going to be dropping some people from our world into it (For as it happens sensible and relevant reasons other than 'they need to learn some big Moral Lesson' - that IS one of the few Lewis-things that is even at this stage being beaten into a small pulp). And I already have some ideas what they're going to find. It's really weird, having the big empty blotch on the map start to fill itself out so thoroughly and so fast.

Of course, I live in the centre of a continent and have approximately zero experience with sailing ships. And it's definitely age of sail - though with what minuscule bit of initial reading I've done, I think I may be basing the main ship(s) on something more like junks or other not-as-recognizeable-to-fans-of-Patrick-O'Brien vessels. (Which leads to the question how many of the most familiar nautical terms are essential to the ships themselves and how many are out of European tradition, which is a messy can of worms...*)

And the mother of a toddler isn't going to be able to take off for a random set of how-to-sail-a-sailboat lessons, as Amy Raby did before writing some of her current books.

So. Lots of reading in my near future. And I think I'm going to have to start with Jim Macdonald's quick-and-dirty research method of beginning with books aimed at kids, not just because it's quick and dirty but because my knowledge is THAT far behind.

*For instance, why would a ship from another world with different traditions use port and starboard? Would they necessarily have historically put the steering oar to the right and thus dock at a port on the left? Would they be using the differing colours of lights or some other means to signal side, and would they have the same tradition of who gives way when to avoid a collision?

And of course, what's *worth* changing to say "Different world, dudes" versus worth leaving alone to say "I like you to be able to read the meat of the adventure and not get confused by trivialities"?

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I'm not pregnant, again.

No miscarriage, unless it's the kind you can't tell from a regular period. Just not pregnant. But I'm more depressed about it than usual.

And yet, it, and some coincidental reading, and some stuff about Joseph, all have me thinking again about the hard world of child raising, and trying to have kids, and choosing not to try to have kids. Then I ran into these (Because I've been reading her Narnia Deconstructions, but a few months behind, and slipped into the Storify one, and linked back to the older one from there...)

And in some ways, even though our situations as regards EVERYTHING (fertility, cause of failed pregnancies, efforts to get pregnant, even feelings about wanting children ahead of time) are different - I felt like I had seen a strong mirror of my own feelings. (Also, some serious WTF??? about the Grown Babies in Heaven from every lost zygote. Like, nuclear explosion degrees of WTF???)

The miscarriages were alive enough to me to have possible names, if only after the fact (Names I would never have applied to an extant child and names that are no-one's business but mine and Colin's), but they were mourned as she says; as potential, not actual children. It was losing a whole attachment of dreams (Dreams that didn't cover half the reality I already face, but she talks about that, too) -- but it was not half of what losing Joseph on the day of his birth, when he was a real and whole and solid BABY, would have been. And it is NOTHING, and I repeat that with huge emphasis, to what losing him now would do.

Potential, not Person

Storify: Infertility and Abortion

I wonder what it is about having faced the consequences of our own reproductive efforts (None of which actually WERE abortion in either my case or Mardoll's) that makes it so very clear why reproductive choice, including abortion, is so very important? Maybe it's because it's us, not some abstract woman, and our zygotes and fetuses and babies, not some abstract "Fetuses are babies" platonic ideal. (I held and touched one of those fetuses, an inch or so long at the time, and I knew exactly hat I was holding, and it was devastating -- but it was not a baby.)

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3rd-Mar-2014 11:30 pm(no subject)
It says something about me and my ego* that i only just discovered another review for Illusion of Steel from last October. I think her complaints, if "complaints" is even the right word for a wish to have more story, are a fair cop - but the question of whether I ever write the other parts of these specific characters' stories is complicated.

And a nice, but other than one sentence and a general tone of approval, review free, signal boost from Black Gate Magazine.

Having seen my fourth quarter royalty statement, though, I think this deserves a small signal boost.

* On the one hand, yes, I just ego-surfed. On the other, first time since at least October?

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