erynn: Gaelic merman image (Misogyny)
I attempted galettes today. I need to actually sift the buckwheat flour, because the stuff I have has the little bits of husk in it from when it was ground, and it is slightly annoying in the finished galette. I also need some practice getting them thinner and flipping them so they don't break apart. They tasted pretty good, though.

I've finished the basic digging through books that I'd planned for my healing deities presentation. I have five pages of notes, plus the text of one poem that I do plan on using as part of the presentation. I have 32 named figures and half a dozen or more unnamed ones who are mentioned as doing something that heals themselves or another person, or who are invoked as a part of a healing procedure or ritual. It's been quite interesting. Tomorrow, when I'm not dealing with Brianna's moving stuff in, I'll be working on an outline.

I'm ranting a bit here, but it's not that long. )
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Ganesha)
After group at the VA today, I hung out at Travelers and started making a list of the deities and heroes I need to address for the session at PCon in February. I ended up quickly reading through 2MT on my phone to collate a list of the figures associated with healing there, but I know there are other resources I'll have to go through.

When I got home, I posted an inquiry on my FB about the problems I'm having with Google Maps and trying to plot out a multi-stop trip. One person suggested MapQuest, which works much more easily but doesn't recognize my mom's address as existing. It can get me to her town, and I can use Google Maps for the bit from the highway to her place, as that program does actually know where it is when I tell it how to look. I tried working with my GPS on the project, but that doesn't do multi-destination trips either. I can, however, probably use it from point to point for realtime directions, though I will have to see if it can find mom's place. That will require my going outside, though, (when the weather is very slightly warmer - it's 27f right now) because it can't find the satellites from inside my place. I don't want to stand around outside in sub-freezing weather while the damned thing spends ten minutes trying to think.

At least I feel like I'm making a little progress on this stuff. I'll probably get a call tomorrow from the Ashland Hostel to take my information for my bed there on my way to PCon. That'll be another thing accomplished.

A bit of stressful stuff. Possibly triggery. )
erynn: Gaelic merman image (all your books!)
The VA sent me an appointment for podiatry in the mail today, which is scheduled for 8:30am on July 9th. I called and left them a message that I was going to be on a plane that day, thank you, and they should call me soon, but NOT BEFORE NOON to reschedule. I am so not going to an 8:30 appointment. I would have to be up by 6am to get there in time, given rush hour traffic and all the crap that entails for a trip in from Everett. There is No Fucking Way I am going to have an appointment at that hour. If they only have a morning clinic, I will have the very last appointment of the morning, thanks very much. I had told the gal who was sending the referral in to have them CALL ME first, but of course this is the VA and they don't actually listen. yay.

I sent off the payment for my UK train tickets to [ profile] fififolle, who received it today. That finishes up all the travel stuff for my trip except the Isle of Man, where I'll probably get a bus pass for the week.

Last night I also finally got around to answering an email from a young woman (presumably, from what I could get from the email address name) who was asking me about centralizing CR and making One Big Website with Everything On It where info would be sorted and reliable and folks could buy books that were published about CR and... sigh It's a great dream, but that's just never going to happen. The original Celtic cultures were never a unity and it's completely unrealistic to expect CR Paganism to manifest unity when we all worship different deities, our rituals are going to be different, and there are different cultures involved. I wish the online community was a little less acrimonious, but the only way anything is going to get done is by people actually doing them instead of sitting around online talking about it and telling everyone else how UnCeltic they are. Stuff like this doesn't spring up overnight, anything involving an organization that publishes is going to have to deal with nonprofit laws, and it would take a lot of volunteer effort that never quite seems to be forthcoming. Anyone who wants to see organizations and groups start, even if they are not a scholar and don't want to be one, is just going to have to step up to the plate and start organizing things. It's not magically going to happen by wishing. But I have given that particular rant many a time before. I hope I was at least encouraging to her about finding her talents and contributing to the community as best she's able.

Today I spent some time talking on Skype (texting actually) with [ profile] vyviane about pilgrimage stuff and sorted through some things. I sent her a link for the doc where I have a bunch of research links and stuff for some of the sites we're visiting, and where I'll be adding more things as I find them in the next few days. I also wrote up part of a document for the list on three cauldrons meditations that will be the basis for the daily work we'll do before the writing prompts each morning. I would have spent more time on it, but I needed to get down into Everett to pick up my guests and have dinner with them, then we came back here and watched the Lovecraft movies, which were greatly enjoyed. She did note that airfare from Boston or New York into Dublin is, I believe, just under $1,000 for a round trip right now, so if anyone was wondering if cheaper airfare might make going on the pilgrimage possible, now would be the time to consider tickets and coming along!

ETA: [ profile] vyviane says "I found tons of 1,000 RT from all over the place via Air Lingus and Expedia has a couple 811 and 864 RT from Boston and New York City!"

Further work was done on dealing with the specific themes and readings for each day's meditations and travel. I still need to dig through some books to find appropriate poems, but that's tomorrow's job.

I was delighted to discover that the Celtic Scholar's Reviews blog had posted a very positive review of Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom a few days ago, giving it a very high recommendation. Her reviews tend to be honest and clear about a book's flaws, as well as its positive points, and she was really quite pleased with my work.

Thursday I've scheduled a chat with the Sisterhood of Avalon again, given that the last one was pretty much utterly defeated by a lousy internet connect. I'm looking forward to it, as it was so messed up last time. Apparently they really enjoyed what little I did get through to everyone, so it'll be nice to be able to actually talk to them realtime instead of with those hideous delays and signal drops.

Monday is the CR schmooze, and Jeff is going to be doing a presentation on deity imagery on Celtic coins. He's really into numismatics and will have illustrations and such. It should be fun.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Failure TRex)
I had Comcast come in and do an installation again. The modem I bought didn't work so I'll take it back to BestBuy and get a new one that should. I'm currently using the Comcast-provided one for a few days. The installer called and was able to come a couple of hours early, but that was unfortunately overshadowed by the fact that I CANNOT SEND SEANET EMAIL FROM MY COMPUTER over Comcast. I spent two hours on the phone with Comcast tech and half an hour or so with Seanet's tech, and nothing is working. I can still happily send emails over the AT&T wireless, but I can't send anything out either hardwired into the Comcast modem or via the wireless router. I'm extremely frustrated by this.

The Comcast tech is supposed to call me back on Saturday (the first day that he's there and I'm actually home while he's in the office) to see about doing more troubleshooting, but we have tried everything. I'm not at all angry with him; he went above and beyond in terms of trying different things in order to help me figure out what the hell is happening here and nothing was working. He was awesome. Sadly, it is definitely a Comcast issue, because I didn't have any trouble sending out email until the Comcast internet was installed. We shall see what happens. If it doesn't work, I'm going to be getting something out of them as a concession for having to use a different wireless account to send email from the email account I've had since 1995 that has never failed me before.

Because of all the time I spent with tech support today, I wasn't able to go for my walk around the lake. It was raining most of the day, though, so I'm not too awfully perturbed, but I do want to make a habit of it.

At about 6:40 I headed over to the AFK and hung out there. One of the Air Krakens came by for a little while, but I spent most of my time talking with Drew and one of the cooks. It was a really pleasant evening, and I must say that on a stressful day, the application of a little alcohol sometimes helps. I do feel much better having had a couple of drinks and will dive back into stress and stupidity on Saturday.

Yesterday's research netted me a street view of the entryway to the campsite I'll be staying at on the Isle of Man, as well as a view of the location for the web cafe in Douglas. I'm feeling more confident being able to have a look around before I go there. While, on the one hand, satellite surveillance is awfully creepy for a lot of reasons, the ability to have the same view as someone standing in the street to look at the entry of a business or the driveway of a campsite half a world away before I actually go there is so immensely helpful. It's weird how tech can be at the same time both wonderful and terrifying.

[ profile] gra_is_stor is here for the evening after her band practice. She's got to pick up an out of town friend tomorrow at the airport at 11, so she'll be leaving before I do tomorrow. She did say, though, that since I picked up the tab for Saturday's showing of Metropolis, she would be willing to spring for tickets to the 70th anniversary showing of Casablanca on Thursday. It's showing at 3 or 4 cinemas around the area, but it's being shown nationwide Thursday evening at 7pm with commentary and behind-the-scenes stuff, sponsored by Turner Classic Movies. It'll probably be pretty cool. She thinks her friend might be willing to come with us, so that would be really nice to see it with them.

Tomorrow, along with shrinkage, is Irish class and there might be further pummeling from Patrick. If that's the case, I hope it doesn't do a number on my shoulder again, like it did last week.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Illya "Missed it by this much")
I called the VA today, hoping to get some answers. Once again, the phone rang until the operator picked it up again. The second time he sent it through, it was eventually picked up. I asked to talk to the travel coordinator but I'd been given to the travel desk, and the guy there (whose voice I recognized) said that he was the travel coordinator. Lying through his teeth, obviously. He asked for my last name and when I told him, he asked me three times if it was my LAST name.

Yes, fuck you very much. I do happen to know my own last name.

After a ludicrous amount of unnecessary explanation, I was told I had to go and have a means test done (I've done them before, thank you) and that I also apparently need a waiver so that they don't take out the $6 a visit co-pay. I will go in early tomorrow, fill out the forms, and get a god damned waiver in writing so that I can wave it at them every time they try to take money out. And I am going to find out how to get every penny back that they owe me for all those co-pays that they've taken out since I started going to the travel office to get compensation.

Anyway, severely annoying.

I discovered by watching my downloads of files over the past couple of days that I have an average download speed of under 25 kbps. UNDER 25 kbps. This is less than dialup. It's also ludicrous. Of course, AT&T doesn't guarantee fuckall. Comcast appears to (of course) have a monopoly on non-wireless in Everett. I'm still looking for alternatives, but have no idea if I'm going to find anything. As you might guess, I pretty much hate everything right now.

I did go to Irish class, where we covered basic counting from 0-10 (which I already knew, but hey, I got chocolate out of it), then I went up to [ profile] gra_is_stor's place, where Patrick worked on my neck and shoulders for about an hour. He worked on her as well, then I drove him downtown to his office (he's a night security supervisor).

While I was waiting for Irish class, I hung out at Kaladi Brothers and had some tea and tried to find the original Brigid's Well on Google Maps and Google Earth. I found the road sign for the one the church had constructed in the 1950s, but the original is off the Google Maps grid. Google Earth doesn't register anything for either of them, though there are photos of Brigid's Well tagged on either side of the road where the newer well is located, both of which are from the new well. Everything I can find says the two of them are very close together, pretty much just across the street and down from one another, but I can't find a fix on the earlier one at all. The notes saying where it is online are nearly useless, not really giving any idea of the actual area where one might find it. (Everything says "it's across the street from the carpark for the Irish National Stud Farm and the Japanese Gardens. Apparently "across the street" actually means down a road across from the car park and then down another road. Technically speaking, yeah, it's across the street, but it's not on the same road at all.) There must be somebody somewhere with a GPS location on it. *grr*

I am ranty and grumpy and generally not fit company for human beings. I do hope that changes by tomorrow or some poor VA clerk is going to get an earful.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Join the Illuminati!)
The wind was up today and the power got knocked out for maybe half an hour. It wasn't gone long, but it was slightly disconcerting. Given that my wireless is currently battery operated, this meant I could remain online even through the outage - not a thing I could do when I had a cable modem and a wireless router. It's the one advantage to the system I currently use.

I got first draft sample cover art for the Circle of Stones reprint today. The idea is okay, but the execution leaves rather a bit to be desired, as one might expect from a first draft. Comments were sent back and forth between myself, Taylor, and Storm, and we'll have Andy do another draft and see how that goes. I was kind of "yeah, it's okay. meh." It didn't grab me, but it didn't give me a visceral Oh Fuck No the way the first draft cover for the ogam book did, so I figure we're headed in the right direction.

I had fun at the Irish class today, wherein songs were sung and key phrases like "I don't understand" and "maybe" were practiced. ;)

After Irish class, [ profile] gra_is_stor and I went over to Caffe Vita for the queer Pagan meetup, where I caught up with folks I haven't seen in quite some time. Greg, Black Cat, Craigula, Jimbo, and Jay were all there. Also in attendance (though I didn't really get a chance to talk to her) was Nancy, whom I hadn't seen since around the time I was dating my third husband, so that's probably been nearly since dinosaurs roamed the earth. I introduced [ profile] gra_is_stor around to everyone I knew and we chatted and I squeed about Ireland and Europe and upcoming publications and all that.

Once the group started to break up, half a dozen of us went up the street to a little bar and snacks place, which was okay if a bit hipster for my tastes. We hung out and talked for probably another hour before I had to get on the road to get home to Everett.

In the past few days I'd been hearing about yet another eyerolling kerfuffle in the online CR community, where some folks are apparently claiming anyone who isn't Reading Books and Being A Scholar ZOMG isn't really practicing CR, which is patent bullshit as far as I'm concerned. The whole idea behind this was that eventually people wouldn't have to be scholars and build it all themselves. Eventually there would come a time when there would be rituals and communities and people could just come and participate and be a part of the CR movement, no matter what their level of "academic" involvement. I think that it was put pretty well on the Mo Thearmann blog, though she did say one thing that I would take at least slight issue with:

You can't attend a gathering and then shut CR off for the remainder of the year. Also, if you are CR on Monday, Ásatrú on Tuesday, Wiccan on Wednesday, Hellenic on Thursday ad nauseam, then you are not fully CR because you are setting aside the CR worldview to practice— or dabble, really— in others.

I'm someone who practices multiple traditions. My primary spiritual identity is as a fili within a CR tradition, but I am also a Shinto practitioner, a mystes and luperca in the Ekklesía Antínoou, and a number of other things that I don't mysteriously stop being when I am practicing a CR path. Nor do I suddenly stop being a member of the Shinto shrine or lose my affiliation with Antinous and his community when I am teaching or doing ritual within the CR community. I understand why "dabbling" would be problematic, but I also know that many people operating in a genuinely polytheist paradigm are capable of working within a number of traditions at the same time. How long does one have to practice something for it to no longer be "dabbling"? Whose criteria do we use? What determines how many spiritual practices a person can have and still legitimately be considered a member of the CR movement?

I've already been declared a heretic by some, I know. That said, I'm writing books and publishing essays and teaching at festivals, and people associate my name with the CR movement. I don't accept the idea that I might somehow not be legitimate because I also choose to worship other deities and practice other paths along with my primary practice. My life is broader, richer, and more complex than that. I take all of it seriously, even if I would never consider myself, for instance, an expert on Shinto. I don't have to be in order to be a shrine member and to go to the seasonal festivals.

Anyway, that's my rant for the evening. Let's not dismiss people just because we may not practice in the same way they do. Yes, there are boundaries. No, CR is not an exclusive path that people must practice while forsaking all others. No, you do not have to have a degree in Celtic Studies to practice a CR spirituality.

Thank you and good night.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (totem orca)
I was able to reschedule shrinkage until the 14th, which was the first opening Tracy had. She was very understanding about my needing to cancel for the day. I was glad for a little breathing space, honestly. I didn't stay home all day, as I had to deal with Things, but I'll get to that in a bit.

I'm having a hard time finding someone to take my Medieval Women's Choir concert ticket. I know it's short notice, but I had no idea it would be this much of a challenge. I wish I could go, but that's just not going to happen.

Progress was made on Ireland pilgrimage stuff today. I put together a tentative 3-book reading list for the folks going along, and have sent it off to [ profile] vyviane and the others to see if that's what they were thinking of for this sort of thing. I also made a short list of things to start looking for and putting together, in concert with the To Do list they posted elsenet for reference.

Got word from my editor that he would likely be done with the layout for Circle of Stones today and send it off. We're definitely on track for May.

I went out and picked up cheap (like on sale at Freddie's) hiking boots, so that they'll be reasonably broken in by the time I have to actually go hiking in them. I got a new belt so that I could toss the old, falling apart ones. Generally that's about the only time I actually shop for clothes, when my old ones are falling apart. I really do hate to shop, unless it's for books.

Cut for clothes TMI, body stuff, gender stuff. )
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Breakin' Ur Geasa)
I was up way too late last night and the DoDC+3 woke me with a persistent nose to the face at about 11:30am, when I'd had maybe four hours of actual sleep. I pushed him off and managed to stay in bed for another hour or so, but had things to do today, so I ended up getting my butt out of bed and moving on.

Today was the CR schmooze's Burns Night party, and I was delighted to spend time with my friends, but I was definitely dragging. I actually went as far as lying down for a while as the rest of the group talked and waited for those who were going to be a little later. It helped some, but not really enough. We had dinner (haggis, neeps and tatties, salad, oat bannocks, chocolate, and - yay - Ardbeg) and hung out talking for a fair while before I was too tired to really handle staying in a crowd anymore. About 9pm I noted that I was about done in, so I headed north and gave Charles a ride home.

rantiness below the cut )
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Insane Membrane!)
Here's a link that describes what police and military pepper spray is capable of doing to human beings. According to wikipedia (yes, I know, lazywebs research R us), "Pepper spray is banned for use in war by Article I.5 of the Chemical Weapons Convention which bans the use of all riot control agents in warfare whether lethal or less-than-lethal." In other words, this stuff is illegal in a war zone. Why is it being used on peaceful protesters?

Last week, a young pregnant woman and an 84-ish year old grandmother (who happened to also be a veteran and a member of VFP) were among those pepper sprayed by police in Seattle. Yesterday, that young woman had a miscarriage. Was the police use of pepper spray causative? I don't know, but I can't imagine it was good for her. If your first instinct is to say "well, she shouldn't have been out there protesting," you can fuck off right now. Walk away and don't come back. You don't blame the victim of a violent assault by the police here. If you make a comment here to that effect, I'll delete your ass and ban you. Just saying.

This, of course, is the kind of bullshit that some police officers have been using against people of color and poor people for years. I know that. It doesn't make it any less egregious now in use against protesters. It is unconscionable under any circumstances where an officer's life isn't in danger.

I wish I could do more than be furious and doing what I'm already doing.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Navy seal)
I went out today to the local Applebee's because they offer a free meal to vets. I had a much longer day than expected for various reasons, which I'll get to in a subsequent post, but I wanted to talk about what happened there, and about some other things that seem to inevitably arise on Veterans Day.

I was sitting next to a table with six people at it, five women and a man. The waiter, when informed that someone at the table was a vet and would be ordering from the veteran's menu, assumed it was the man. It was the oldest woman at the table, who had served in World War II. Even though the place was filled to the gills with women veterans, the assumption was still that the lone man at that table was the one who served.

A couple of weeks ago, while waiting at the travel office at the VA, I was sitting across from a woman who had been in the signal corps in World War II. She hit the beach at Normandy on D Day with the men. Women have been serving in the military for generations, and it is so rarely acknowledged. Not every elderly woman vet was a nurse or a secretary, and even the ones who were often were getting shot at just like the guys.

I see a lot of thank yous to veterans on Veterans Day, and I see a lot of appreciation expressed for vets in the Occupy movement, though that varies from place to place. There are a ton of vets associated with the movement now, offering their opinions and expertise where it's needed. But I also see a lot of it as sentimental and superficial. There's so much more to be said, and so much to actively be done in order for us to have any justice.

I got a ping on twitter from an author asking if I'd read his Veterans Day blog post. I did. I appreciated some of what he had to say, yet I felt that there were also a lot of realities being ignored. I responded:

I’m a vet myself, Cold War era, disabled with PTSD and an alphabet soup of other problems arising from my service and its aftermath. The military system itself, and not just going to war, is damaging to people. If you want to thank veterans and servicemembers, part of the way to do that is to not allow our government to make war.

The fact that in some ways we have it better than people in many other countries doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems here at home that desperately need to be addressed, from economic inequity and poverty to human rights abuses to environmental restoration to education to health care. It is our responsibility to address them and to work for change, not to bury them under empty “we’re number one” talk. We must open our eyes to the problems here, as well as the blessings we have, and to move forward from there.

It is important to recognize the sacrifices that servicemembers and veterans have made and are making, and the rights that we sacrifice while we are in service, supposedly to protect the rights of our fellow citizens. It is also important to recognize that the wars happening now are not wars for freedom, they are wars for oil and for economic and political manipulation. These are not the things I swore to protect when I signed up. I didn’t swear to protect and defend the corporations, I swore to protect and defend the constitution and the rights that have been torn from us by self-serving politicians and their corporate masters.

If anyone wants to thank me for my service, do it by working to change the way our country works and finding ways to restore the freedoms we have lost to fear and greed since 2001. Do it by bringing my brothers and sisters home from foreign lands where their lives are at risk, and not sending them off again without a damned good reason. Do it by making our country, and the world, a better, more compassionate, and more just place. Do it by demanding and exercising the rights I fought for you to have, like the right to vote, the right to privacy, the right to free assembly. Do it by engaging in civil discourse rather than polarizing partisan politics. Do it by not romanticizing violence and war. Do it by recognizing and honoring the damage that military service has done and is doing to us, without making us into victims in your rhetoric.

I served in the Navy from 1979-1982. I fought hard to get thrown out of the military because it was quite literally killing me. My entire family has been military for generations. My brother is still in the Air Force Active Reserves, and is currently serving as a civilian construction contractor in Baghdad. To me, none of this stuff is theoretical. It’s all very up close and personal and it haunts me every day. I desperately want the world to be a better place and do what little I can to aid in the effort to make it so, and to try to make up for my part in the oppression that the US military perpetuates. When you spend several years sending messages to ships and subs at sea that may or may not have launch codes for nuclear missiles in them, never knowing if that one message you’ve just sent will be the order that starts World War III, you may well end up questioning your entire purpose for being. It’s a hell of a lot to carry, even if you’ve never been shot at.

Next time you thank a vet, think about what you’re asking them to do in your name.

I'm still struggling with all of it, but I won't let it defeat me. That's just not what I do.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (gir explode)
I woke up today with a migraine, though that's eased up now. I'm doing much better and think I will probably be fine for my talk to the class tomorrow. I did dishes and some laundry and am still pretty tired, but I suspect that's as much migraine hangover as anything else. Unfortunately, by the time I was feeling well enough to do anything, I was just not going to make it to the party.

I want to plug a couple of friends here. First, it's [ profile] lupabitch's birthday, and she says this is how you can make her birthday awesome! Lots of pictures here, and some very silly things.

If you are a Seattle local and have been looking for a portrait photographer, [ profile] fullcontactmuse is having a half-off sale, and it's quite a deal! Check it out!

After I get out of the class tomorrow, I'm off to the AFK for the Tuesday steampunk social. The Wayward Cafe has re-opened, so the Monday Steamvents will, most likely, be reconsolidating there after having been dispersed to several locations since it shut down in Greenwood after the fires there. Capitol Hill will also be having a first and third Mondays steampunk meetup at Elliott Bay Books now, so if you're on the Hill and not into going out to Roosevelt for the Steamvent, you have an alternative much closer in.

I finished reading Disability and Religious Diversity today. Most of it was pretty interesting, though the assumptions in a few of the chapters made me want to smack my head on a desk. This isn't too unusual when dealing with mainstream religions. I was particularly struck by the way that people so often seem to assume that a chronic illness or disability is somehow the "fault" of the person suffering from that condition. I don't just see that in mainstream religions -- I run into it in Paganism as well. It most often manifests as "we all choose our incarnations and you must have chosen to manifest with these problems" or "if you were really spiritual enough, you could heal yourself," or some variant of "you could use herbs instead of western medicine and it would cure you" or "with enough positive thinking everything would be all right."

One of the things that has annoyed me immensely about the yoga group at the VA has been that every single yoga instructor there (I have interacted with three of them so far) said "I had fibromyalgia and yoga cured it," as though they are expecting me to miraculously get well if I just practice enough yoga. I'm sure they think they are giving me some "hope" regarding my situation, but they're not. Yes, yoga and Tai Chi have helped somewhat in the past, but I would by no means regard those occasional and temporary improvements as a "cure" of any sort. Of course, I'm sure that my anger and frustration with the whole thing would just be seen as "resistance to healing" and "hanging on to" my fibromyalgia for some idiotic reason. There are some people for whom fibro just goes away for some mysterious reason that no one can identify. Sometimes it stays away. Sometimes it comes back again later. I think I'm doing damned good to be able to function as well as I do on just a few tylenol a day instead of being on the methadone cocktail the VA wanted to put me on some years back.

Other people's definitions and expectations are as much of an impediment sometimes as physical pain. Reading about the way some of the other authors in the anthology have had to deal with various religions' judgments of them for their disabilities just exacerbated that background hum of annoyance. Darla, one of the editors, recounts that she was told by an acupuncturist that Chinese religion says people with diseases and disabilities were, essentially, paying off karma for misdeeds in previous lives. She was told by an airline employee that if she just prayed to Jesus hard enough, her sins would be washed away and she wouldn't be blind anymore. I mean seriously, WTF? And Pagans play the same stupid bullshit blame the victim games with this sort of thing. I think it's ludicrous and disgusting and I wish to hell they'd just grow the fuck up and realize that human bodies FAIL sometimes and there's nothing that can be done to "cure" them. Sometimes you just have to live with it, even if it's painful or difficult or impairing. It's not because you need to learn a lesson (though learning something from it can be useful, regardless). It's not because you deserve to be punished for something in some other life. It's not because you are somehow evil or flawed. It just happens because, you know, sometimes things just do.

This rant was brought to you by the letters WTF.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Insane Membrane!)
From an article in the Huffington Post:

Much condescending media chatter about Occupy Wall Street centers on its "lack of demands." Well, there are definitely people in Zuccotti Park talking about concrete demands, and I believe which of these come forward will be important. But what kinds of demands should they be? Consider this: The publication of 'reasonable policy demands' par excellence is the Economist (incidentally, Adbusters's "Big Ideas" issues were specifically meant as a rejoinder to the Economist's annual year-end idea roundups). In its recent issue trying to address the terrible sense of economic stagnation that has ignited the Wall Street protests, the Economist stated plainly that it saw no alternative to a "hollowing out" of the U.S. economy, with good jobs vanishing and inequality continuing to soar. Its sensible proposal for readers who couldn't magically join the elite? "One strategy could be to find a high-flyer and stick close... The time-poor new rich are generating demand for household staff, and this sort of work can be very well paid." I kid you not. The actual advice to young people is, 'Have you considered a career as a servant?'

And people wonder about anger and frustration among those who can't find work?
erynn: Gaelic merman image (two ravens)
I went down to the VA today for yoga things. The instructor is going to be MIA for another two weeks, in Vermont apparently, taking further classes of some sort. I have no idea what the sub will be like this time. I'm creaky tonight but most of that isn't from the yoga, so I am pretty well okay with the group so far. I am concerned about getting another sub who wants to push too damned, hard, though.

I went over to the AFK tonight and hung out with one of my steampunk buds from Seattle. We know a lot of the same people in the Pagan community so it was really kind of amusing that we met through the Steamrats rather than the Pagans. So things go. We talked steampunk and politics and technology and such.

I finally got the damned check from Comcast today, which will cover my hotel room costs for Steamcon. I just received email confirming the room share and how much that expense will be, so I feel pretty good about that. Sally says she will watch the DoDC+3 for me over the weekend of the con, so I'm good there, as well.

No writing was done today. I messed around a little with GoogleDocs today, as you can use it from an iPad, but you have to update to the current GoogleDocs instead of the older version that I had been using. That, sadly, fucks with the way I like things on my desk, though the display on the iPad is nearly identical to what I prefer to use on the desktop. I filled out their survey and bitched them out for not giving me a simple, full-screen-width text input option on the desktop when it's available on the iPad. They use this ludicrous pseudo-pageview that kills about a third of the page width that could be used for writing. At least I can turn off the pagination which, with the pseud-pageview, ended up killing about half or more of the screen real estate that I should be able to use for a draft document. We hates it we does, my precioussss. What is so damned hard about a full-screen for just a draft version of text entry?

Anyway, now I can edit documents on the iPad if I'm away from home and I want to mess around with one of my fanfic documents. It's something, at least.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (all your books!)
This evening I went with [ profile] gra_is_stor to the Seattle Asian Art Museum for a reading by two Chinese poets and the release of the anthology Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry from China. I headed down early because it was a warm, sunny day, and spent an hour or so sitting at a picnic table in the park while reading essays from Heroic Poets and Poetic Heroes and taking copious research notes. About 6:30, [ profile] gra_is_stor met me in Volunteer Park and we headed into the museum for the reading. We were actually the first people seated and one of the guys from Copper Canyon Press came over to talk with us. I told him that I'd been looking forward to the reading and that I'd heard about it through Copper Canyon and Elliott Bay's email. He expressed appreciation for poetry readers and I said that I ought to like reading poetry, given that I was a poet and had a wall full of poetry books at home. I noted I would have loved to purchase the anthology, but was flat broke at the end of the month. He said he'd give me a copy -- and he actually did! I was quite delighted, so thank you Joseph Bednarik of Copper Canyon for your kindness! I was able to get the book signed by the two poets at the end of the evening as well.

The reading itself was fascinating and I learned quite a bit about Chinese poetry, particularly from Xi Chuan's introductions to some of the poems he read by other poets in the anthology. He has quite a sense of humor and some of his work was very amusing; he read one from the anthology and two other pieces from one of his other works. His answer to Nietzsche was particularly funny, I thought. Zhou Zan is an advocate of women's poetry in China and has been the editor of the women's poetry journal Wings for many years, as well as being a poet and the translator of some of the poetry of Margaret Atwood. She read her own poems and several poems from the anthology by other women poets.

I talked briefly to the poets when I got my copy of the anthology signed. They were asking for people's names so that they could personalize them and I wrote mine down briefly because it's an unusual spelling. They asked what kind of a name it was and I said it was Irish but spelled funny. They said that it could actually be construed as a Chinese name with a rough translation of something like "your plough," which I thought was pretty funny. Perhaps I cultivate the fields of memory.

My contract from Hiraeth arrived today. I just need to make sure they use my whole name in the contract (if they send me an editable pdf I can correct it myself) and sign and date the thing and we are go for a 2012 publication! The date is yet to be determined, but definitely next year. We'd been discussing autumn, but that decision will be up to the press when they have next year's schedule together. It's early yet to tell.

I got into a lengthy conversation/rant in twitter today with one of my friends about ebooks. He was complaining that he'd spent $50 on a book and wanted the ebook of it for free. His argument was that he'd already paid for the book so why should he have to pay for a second format?

My answer was that if he wanted a hardbound and a paperback, he'd have to pay for both of those formats. If he wanted an audiobook, he'd end up paying for that, too. He argued that an audiobook required people to actually read the book, and therefore it was worth something. Apparently he believes that there is either no work or no intrinsic value in an ebook, and therefore he shouldn't have to pay for it. He did accuse me of being greedy and wanting people to pay multiple times for the same material.

If an author wants to package a print and ebook copy as the same sale, more power to them. If they want to give things away for free, I'm fine with that. On the other hand, an author's work is worth something, no matter what format it's in.

He pulled someone else into the discussion and then asked me if I wanted to do away with used bookshops, too. I said that, in the end analysis, someone had actually paid for the books in the used bookshop at one point, unless the books were remaindered. Of course, with the rise of print on demand publishing, remainders may soon be a thing of the past, so any book in a used bookshop would of necessity have been previously paid for. Yet nobody walks into a used bookshop and walks out with a bag full of free books -- you do pay for them used.

What about libraries? I was asked. They're stealing a ton of revenue from authors, too. Isn't it really just the same if you buy a cd and upload the sound file to a website where anyone can download it? Aren't you just sharing it the same way you would a library book?

No, not really. A library pays for the copy and loans it out, but it always comes back. If you keep the library book, they charge you late fees and, eventually, a replacement fee if you don't return it. Regardless of what happens, there is only one copy -- paid for -- running around. The author still got paid for it. If you buy a cd and rip it, then upload it so all your friends can have it, it's no longer one copy of something, it's a dozen copies or a thousand copies, or ten thousand copies, and the artist never sees a penny of any of those. He felt that making copies was not an ethical problem at all because it's not a copy of something physical, it's just bits in the aether. But it's still someone's hard work and they deserve to be compensated, no matter how many copies we're talking about.

He then went on to say that just because the publishers are screwing the authors, does that mean the readers should get screwed too? I asked him why the authors and readers couldn't get together to change the way that major publishers do things, and he had no answer for that. Major publishers are making money at the expense of both authors and readers; small presses and independent authors are barely scraping by most of the time. But apparently I'm tilting at windmills for caring about the people who are actually writing.

He said if writing paid so badly, nobody should try to make a living at it. Authors should negotiate better contracts -- yet the publisher holds almost all the power in those situations, and a writer isn't necessarily going to get a better deal at some other publisher. Self-publishing is still very poorly regarded because so much of it is crap. Being able to be published by an actual press is still a meaningful thing, even if the technology is enabling individuals to publish their own work. If they're able to do a professional job without a publisher, more power to them. I've self-published before. I prefer to let somebody else do the bulk of the publishing work, so I do my best to have material that is good enough for someone else to want to publish it.

All that said, I don't think that's the point -- my point is that if nobody pays the authors, authors are going to have to stop writing for publication because they're going to have to be earning their living some other way. They won't have the time or the energy to write at all anymore, or they will write far less than they already do. Writers, musicians, and artists still have to pay rent and pay the bills, they still have to eat and maybe occasionally get some medical care. They have to buy clothes and put gas in the car if they have one. The work of artists and musicians and writers isn't worthless or valueless and there is no reason they should be expected to work for free. The vast majority of writers I know either work at other jobs as well as writing, or they have some other means of income. Most of them don't make a living writing. I certainly don't, but I have a pension that means I'm able to write and not worry about starving to death.

I don't think that copyright should extend beyond an author's death. That serves only the publishing house or the corporation that owns it, not the author.

I don't have nearly as much of an issue with, for instance, a homeless kid who is desperate for music or for something to read downloading a copy of something for free. They don't have anything to spend, and I would just as soon give somebody like that a copy with the hope that it will make their lives a little more comfortable, or at least tolerable.

I do have a problem with a person who has a job and can afford what he needs (including a $50 book) complaining about having to spend a few more dollars for another copy of the same material. Just because you have an entire library of paper books and want to replace them doesn't entitle you to free electronic copies any more than having a collection of VHS tapes entitled you to free DVDs when they came out.

I was told that the world disagreed and was voting with their feet, that I was tilting at windmills. (When have I ever not been tilting at windmills?) I was told that I was really just supporting a model created by publishers that didn't serve readers or authors. Laws don't matter, he said.

Maybe, maybe not. I still advocate paying authors for the work they do. Nobody should be forced to work for free.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Join the Illuminati!)
An article published recently (that I just saw) essentially said that their real names policy will not change because they intend to be an "identity service." I don't want to be a part of that.

Even though I use my legal name in many places online and have for years, people should have the choice to be anonymous for their own safety and for the purposes of speaking out when it is necessary. I'm not talking about trolls here -- they'll happen whether they are anonymous or not. I'm talking about saving people's lives from stalkers, about keeping identities safe from people and organizations that persecute others, about leaving people the hell alone if they want their privacy. I just can't countenance the whole "identity service" idea. Anyway, that's why I'm ditching the account. I still have gmail attached to my website, but I'm reconsidering that, too, to be honest.

In other news, mom says that her cousin Pat's ceramics shop is, for the most part, fine. Here's the relevant bit from her email:

Patty's business survived the situation unscathed miraculously. Only minor traces of structural changes due to the flooding of the basement. The building is actually owned by her ex-husband (I did not know or had forgotten that) and he was getting the basement dried and will doubtlessly have to have it inspected for safety. But nothing at all happened to Patty's space or her inventory or kiln, etc.

I'm so delighted with that! It's quite gratifying to hear. Still don't know about Ray and Diane over on Water Street on the other side of the river, but I have hopes that it's a similar situation.

For anyone interested in seeing photos from the area, there are some photo galleries at the Greenfield Recorder down at the bottom of the page. Have a look. Some of it is really amazingly bad.

More in a bit.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (all your books!)
I went through and finished up most of the copyediting end of Circle of Stones today. It doesn't mean everything is done -- a lot of formatting needs to be done, but I'm leaving most of that for the editor to deal with. Typesetting and graphic design isn't my department.

I've done a very tiny amount of editing on the text itself, mostly a couple of corrections of gramatical errors and such. I don't intend to rewrite the book. I am, however, going to have to redo the bibliography and footnotes with proper forms for cites and bibliographical information. That's going to be annoying with the footnotes. The bibliography isn't very long, though, so that won't be too much effort.

I added a section to the text for the Preface and am about a paragraph into that at the moment. I will admit that for about fifteen minutes today, I was severely tempted to pick up a fanfic challenge prompt and work on that, but I have this project to finish and I'd like to get an essay out for Mandragora on sacred poetry in some capacity before the October deadline. That'll take some thought to get a premise together. I also need to put together a proposal or two for PCon for next year, though that will be considerably less effort.

The call for papers I posted earlier today for the Journal of Bisexuality is so very annoyingly worded. I've been having a conversation with several folks in the comments there about the ways in which there is Great Wrongness in the Force where said cfp is concerned. If you have any interest, drop by and give it a poke. I'd love to hear your take on the points that we've raised.

Today on one of the email lists I'm on, someone was talking about why they are not a Celtic Reconstructionist. Fair enough, I've never thought anyone had to be. Unfortunately, this person's arguments were that all CRs are positing some kind of fictional historical pan-Celticism, that the movement is tied to the IRA, and that we're so hung up on linguistics that we don't bother with anything else (but that we, despite this apparent fetish with language, don't realize that P-Celtic and Q-Celtic are different language groups that are not necessarily mutually intelligible). Oh, and we ignore everything but Roman writings, apparently. I've had debatesarguments with this person in the past, and she's still just as annoying about it. We went back and forth a couple of times before she retired for the night. She's apparently looking at this as a pleasant debate. I'm looking at it as a misrepresentation of my spiritual community.

My primary annoyance is that she insists we're all like this, rather than allowing for the fact that, sure, some individuals might be doing one or more of the things on her list, but that we are not some monolithic religious group where everyone agrees. It's like saying all Heathens have political ties to Stormfront or something.

Tomorrow I'm heading over to Bj and SJ's place with [ profile] gra_is_stor, who met the two of them this past winter at a party. There will be food. There might be hot-tubbage. There is a high probability of Munchkin Cthulhu, or perhaps Monty Python Fluxx.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (boycott amazon)
I have a lot of creative friends -- artists, musicians, makers -- people who are often looking for that little extra boost to get their latest project off the ground. Many of them are using the crowdsourcing model that Kickstarter supports.

I love the idea. I even sometimes have money I can spare to donate to projects like this. Yet I cannot do it through Kickstarter. This is why:

Kickstarter works through Amazon.

Amazon is still in the middle of an antitrust lawsuit because they are attempting to force small presses to use their in-house print-on-demand publishing press. No Amazon POD, no sales through Amazon. That, at least, was the model they were attempting to force through a couple of years ago. That's the model they want.

Their prices are higher than other POD presses for the same product. Their quality is lower. They pay the presses and the authors less.

What this means is, Amazon wants to put all those small presses that I publish through out of business. No small presses equals no more books and essays from me. If I donate to you through Kickstarter, I am shooting myself as an author.

Don't be mistaken. I love you and would love to give you money. I'll even donate if you have a PayPal button on your site and I happen to have some money available. Yes, I know PayPal has its own set of issues, but it's not trying to put the people who publish me out of business. I can't justify helping you bring your project about by killing the presses who publish me.

Maybe, once the antitrust lawsuit is done, I might be able to use Kickstarter. If Amazon isn't given the legal authority to crush small presses with its policies.

In the meantime, consider offering more than one donation option. Please?
erynn: Gaelic merman image (extra meds)
Today was the final session of the writing group at the VA. I'd pulled some stuff together for that and headed down early so that I could stop by the women's clinic to get my follow-up appointment about the migraine meds and schedule another appointment as well. It was a good thing I went early, because there was an accident on I-5 that slowed down traffic considerably. How the VA gave me a panic attack. Yay. )
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Insane: What's Your Excuse?)
I spent some time today dealing with the Brigid altar, as my flamekeeping shift is today. It's very bare-bones, but I put up the shelf and the new statue is on it, the flame lit on the table below. It already feels much better with the different statue; this one doesn't have a moon crown, for one thing, which always drove me crazy about the previous iteration.

Rambling about the talk. )
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Liberty & Justice OTP)
The more I look at this week's journaling assignment, the more uncomfortable I get with the whole concept of "tolerance." I found a blog entry from last year at the Being Latino blog dealing with the International Day for Tolerance that covers a lot of what I'm feeling on the topic. You can see the original post at the link above:

Merriam-Webster defines tolerance as

1) capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance, fortitude, stamina 2) a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own b : the act of allowing something : toleration

I wholeheartedly believe that our choice of words to express ourselves influences our opinions and approach to aspects of life. Differences in cultures, beliefs, lifestyles and traditions are often used as the reasons for hateful acts and speech as well as a means of finding a scapegoat or culprit for a problem. From a young age, people need to be taught and shown that life can be lived in a myriad of ways.

Reading the above definition makes it sound as if interacting with others is a hard task (enduring pain or hardship) and one that requires a great effort. It makes me think of something negative or undesirable, but at the same time something that is expected in society. The person exercising tolerance gives the impression of superiority by allowing the (insert group here) to interact with him/her or to even exist.

I think the intention of those who support tolerance is sincere, but I believe the words should be changed. The path, instead, should be paved with the desire to learn about, explore, understand, experience, embrace, encourage and respect people of different cultures, beliefs, lifestyles and traditions. In order to create a positive and welcoming world positive and welcoming words should be used. Once we change the words we use, we can change the way we approach an issue.

Or is it enough that immigrants (whether “legal” or not), students, homosexuals, women or just you are merely tolerated?

This is the heart of it. I don't want to be "tolerated." I want to be respected, even if I'm disagreed with. I want to be left to live my life without having to worry about my civil rights being violated because I'm female or disabled or queer or Pagan. I'm at least lucky enough to be an adult, pale-skinned, and possessed of enough money to eat every day and keep a roof over my head.

Words. How we use them is important.


erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)

September 2013



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