Building the Canadian Nation - George W. Brown
The Constitution in a Hall of Mirrors: Canada at 150 - David E. Smith
Foreign Affairs September/October 2017 - Trump and the Allies: The View from Abroad
The Constitution in a Hall of Mirrors: Canada at 150 - David E. Smith
Smith's latest book came in the mail via Amazon this week so it has taken up most of my reading time. The book is very heavy subject wise and makes me wish that I had a vast library of political science and constitutional law books to follow-up on the citations.
actually, a few weeks ago I had a dream where my subconscious was actually NICE to me
for the first time I can remember
you know the Royal Institution? it's a big building in London where scientists do, um, sciency stuff. they discovered sodium and aluminium there, back in Victorian times.
it is a big Classical building in Albemarle Street in the West End, but anyway
I had a dream I was exploring the Royal Institution
and there were various doors for exhibitions about particular famous scientists, and I was just trying to look at one exhibition WHEN
child-me came to talk to me, or rather pester me
and I told her to hush because I was reading
but she kept asking me to come and show her my bit
and I said "I don't have a part of the RI!" and she said "but I saw it"
so I went to see AND there was a room ABOUT ME
full of lots of interesting stuff I had discovered
and it was AWESOME
and then I woke up.
so yeah, this was the only time in my adult life I can remember having a dream where I woke up feeling better about myself
From their 2015 album titled Pagans in Vegas I give you Lie Lie Lie by Metric. And from their 2012 album titled Synthetica I have Youth Without Youth. Both are wonderful examples of Metric's undying sound.
Scott wrote another short story. As is usually the case, it's intriguing but there's also much to critique :) The aliens in the story develop great technology, and build an ansible out of negative average preference utilitarianism.
I have a lot of different thoughts inspired by this story. I don't think it's the sort of story where knowing what happens is a problem for reading it, but I will cut a detailed discussion just in case.
( Spoilers )
I came home from work today with an Amazon delivery at my door. There were two items actually, one is a birthday present for Meganne (which immediately triggered the "oh my gawd, what I am going to do about her birthday in two days" fear, more on that later) and the second was a book that I totally forgot that I had ordered. The Constitution in a Hall of Mirrors: Canada At 150 by David E. Smith. This will be the third book of Smith's that I own, each one (and I am sure that this one will be no exception) has earned a special place on my bookshelf; no one writes about the Canadian parliament like Professor Smith!
I just finished the forward and had to share the last paragraphs in it because I think it is a beautiful way to open a book on the Canadian constitution:
In April 1660, as he was about to depart France, where for nearly a decade he had sought refuge during the Interregnum, Charles II proclaimed his faith in parliamentary government. A wise commitment in light of past events, the king's pronouncement signalled more than self-interest, for it acknowledged the central importance of the Crown and Parliament-- even more, the Crown-in-Parliament-- to the future governing of the United Kingdom and, as was to transpire, the settler colonies, including Canada. "We do assure you ... that none of our predecessors have had a greater esteem of parliaments than we have ... we do believe them to be so vital a part of the constitution of the kingdom and so necessary for the government of it that we ever know neither prince nor people can be in any tolerable degree happy without them."
Echoing that royal testament, I have dedicated this book to senators and members of Parliament, upon whose support and service the people of Canada depend in the era of politics now unfolding.
As a teenager I never drank tea or coffee. I must have tried them at some point, but never felt the desire.
At university I started drinking both. I can't remember exactly, I remember having them as a ritual something to do when hanging out with friends. IIRC I drank instant coffee, and real coffee tasted too bitter.
And I think I reached a point where I needed coffee and got dopey and too tired to get up without it, either at university, or after I started working. Unrelated to the caffeine (I assume?) I also had student-y programmer-y sleep patterns, always wanting to sleep a bit later. I don't know how much that was inbuilt physiology and how much it was putting things off, including going to bed and doing things in the morning.
At some point, I started drinking real coffee for preference, and instant coffee tasted bad.
When I started dating Liv, I drank a lot more tea, because we'd usually make a pot together. And I started to feel like coffee was too abrupt, and tea gave a slightly slower caffeine release, and gradually switched to drinking tea almost entirely: I'd happily drink coffee if it was served somewhere, but didn't usually drink it at home or at work.
When I started dating ghoti, I started drinking coffee again, because she drank coffee more often and I liked companionably drinking the same thing. I started with mostly instant coffee, and to date, still mostly drink instant coffee, although I also like real coffee when I have it.
Now I tend to switch, drinking instant coffee at home (because it's quicker), tea at work (because I want a break from the screen to faff around in the kitchen for 10 min), and whichever I feel like if I drink something out.
I never really learned to like espresso based coffee, espressos taste much too strong, and all the mixed drinks taste weird. I used to like mochas occasionally. I usually like plain black tea with milk, or plain coffee, with milk.
Except when I'm abroad, I generally drink whatever's common locally if I'm ok with it at all.
I don't track how much I drink. It's probably quite a lot, because I drink it whenever I feel like, not at fixed times. But I used to feel like it was doing something weird, when I'd be completely wrecked when I *didn't* have caffeine, whereas now, I definitely need some, but if I get a drink within an hour or so of getting up, I don't feel completely zombified until then.
So I used to toy with the idea it'd be healthier to give up (ie. awakeness juice was just borrowing future awakeness and immediate gains were offset in future losses). But now it feels like, the status quo is doing ok.
A couple of people have commented that they have ADHD or suspect they possibly have subclinical ADHD or something related, specifically that mild stimulants make them feel calmer, even right before sleeping.
That's very me. I've never tried to avoid late-night caffeine have haven't noticed it having any affect on my sleep. Which inclines me to think the status quo is possibly fine.
The one big inconvenience in needing caffeine used to be when I'm away, especially at a con in a conference centre, but also, just anywhere on holiday where I'm out all day and don't have decent tea or coffee facilities where I'm staying.
I found it a big faff needing a certain amount of coffee or tea, but that not always syncing up with when I want to sit down and "have a coffee". And a crapshoot whether there'd be somewhere providing bog-standard coffee or tea cheap, or if the only source was a fancy coffee place. Especially if I'm in a rush, or it's all in a foreign language, or whatever.
At some point, I experimented with bringing caffeine pills. I'd studiously avoided them before since having caffeine without the ritual of drinking it seemed like it would only exacerbate the feedback loop of taking more and more to make up for potential caffeine-crashes. I still avoid them when I'm *not* away somewhere.
But I actually found it really helpful, it basically solved the problem for me. I usually need a couple of actual hot drinks throughout the day, usually one or two in the morning with breakfast and one sometime during the day. But otherwise, having a couple of pills in the interim, either physiologically or placebo-y, made me feel fine. I also remember to drink liquid. It made the whole thing a lot simpler.
I can't help other people though, especially tea drinkers in places where there's not much tea.
Which bits of those experiences resonate with you and which don't?
Most of my friends seem to default to tea *or* coffee, even though I remember by parents drinking one or the other depending on the circumstances. Do other people drink both at different times?
What is the relative caffeine in a cup of tea, a cup of coffee, and caffeine pill?
Does that status quo sound sensible or is there something else you'd recommend?
Friday: train down to Exeter to meet up with Steph and Dad, where we organise ourselves into two cars, and Steph and Dad drove us over to Wortham Manor, where Em and Mum were already settling in. Also joined by Gail and David, and Bob and Doreen for the first few days who mostly did their own thing in the daytime but were lovely company in the evenings and cooked some great meals!
Saturday: Day out to Bude, lots of fun building sandcastles and chasing waves, but cut short by the realisation we'd not bought enough car parking and weren't allowed to extend it.
Sunday: dad accidentally went off with our car seat in his car, so Em and Steph went off to see Launceton Castle while Mike, Matthew and I had a nice walk in the lanes near the house, and found an incredible blackberry patch. Grandad joined us in the evening, and sadly James had to leave us.
Monday: a rainy day, so we headed to the Fairground Heritage Centre near Lifton. I'd have liked a better look at some of the exhibits, but had lots of fun accompanying Izzy and Matthew on the dodgems, Izzy on the ghost train and Izzy and Ollie on the Chariot Racer - which was *very* fast. Chris and Kathryn managed to join us in the later afternoon which was lovely, and very brave of them to stay for tea with the whole clan :)
Tuesday: Mum's birthday. A lovely lunch out (where I learned the skill of *not* calling one of the chairs round the table "special" in front of three children), excellent food, shame about the service. A very late afternoon tea, with cake and scones and sandwiches and fizz, and Mike and I took an evening walk, and found deer and rabbits, but no badgers this year. We got back just before the rain :)
Wednesday: Off to Hidden Valley with Em and Steph and the kids. The Maze was a big hit with all of them, and they enjoyed the Indiana Jones trail and hunting for clues. I think the grown-ups might have quite liked to do some of the harder puzzles too. We also did an immense quantity of blackberry picking which the kids loved, and left more than enough for apple and blackberry crumble. (I fear eventually the rest went in the compost).
Thursday: last full day spent mostly at the beach at Bude again, wave hopping and paddling before a fish and chips lunch, then sandcastles, dam-building and a dip in the sea pool - Oliver very disappointed that it wasn't a *heated* pool. I braved a whole actual length across and back as well as some pottering about, but it really was rather bracing. A quiet evening as Em headed off early, and mum and dad out to Dinner, so Steph and Mike and I fed the kids and then had a somewhat bonkers last meal of fish fingers, burgers, chips, salsa and sour cream and chive dip :)
Sad not to manage to meet up with Kate and Nigel - but an excuse to go visit their cottage next year!
Photos on Flickr: Wortham Manor 2017
I think with the demise of Livejournal I'm going to be aiming to use Flickr as the best option for both hosting and sharing photos, as it's more visible to folk outside Facebook. If you dislike any of the photos just ask and I can make private or take down.
A favourite song with a person's name in the title: Several options for this one, but I'm going with Hey there Delilah by Plain White T's. I generally really like songs that tell a bit of a story, and I can imagine the characters in this one so vividly. I like the balance of emotions; it's a sad song about missing a lover, but it's also optimistic and the music is at least somewhat catchy. And I like that they're apart because they're both pursuing their careers, it's not some passive muse waiting for her artist boyfriend to come home. It's not my usual musical style; indeed I discovered it simply by listening to chart radio like some young person who's in touch with the recent music scene.
Besides, I've been in long-distance relationships pretty much my entire adult life, so I can really relate. But no longer; I haven't posted about this in public yet, but in a couple of weeks I'm properly moving to Cambridge. So I'll be living full time in the same house as my husband and the same town as my Other Significant Others. And I won't be spending every Friday and Sunday evening commuting. I'm really really looking forward to this next phase in my life, but also at the moment up to my ears in arranging the move, and quite emotional about leaving the situation I've been settled in for 8 years.
This weekend I lead my last Shabbat morning service with my lovely community. They are understandably nervous about the future without me, and I will miss them absolutely terribly. I talked a bit about Re'eh, making sure that there's no comparison between Moses saying farewell to the Israelites and me saying farewell now. I discussed keeping sanctity while you're living in an imperfect situation, far away from Jewish centres. What compromises can you make (eating meat without making a Temple sacrifice) and what lines can't be crossed (worshipping in Pagan sites)?
Then it will go well for you and your children after you, for all of time, because you will do what is good and right in the eyes of the Eternal your God.And we ate cakes made by my sister and the community gave me some really nice silver Shabbat candlesticks with engraved stands.
jack came up to help me sort the flat out. In lots of ways the decision making is the harder part of packing than the physical labour, so having my husband with me was an amazing help. I am really looking forward to living with him and properly sharing the work of running a household, because we're such a great team. Not just one day in the distant future when our dreams come true, but next month:
We'll have it good
We'll have the life we knew we would
My word is good
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By the time I woke up properly and we’d eaten breakfast, Ramesh realised that he was also feeling quite under the weather, and decided to treat it with spending a while longer in bed, so I set off into town alone to spend some time in the red light district. Naturally, I spent that time looking at churches. Why, what else did you expect? First I went round the Oude Kerk, which was originally a Catholic cathedral, but became protestant during the reformation. There was a very good audio guide, which managed to personalise the experience without being twee. It had been left very austere by the iconoclasm, but in recent years has been used as a space for new art, sacred and secular. Afterwards I went on to Our Lord in the Attic, a house church which has been reconstructed to be very similar to how it was in the seventeenth century. Catholicism at that point was not exactly tolerated, but the authorities would turn a blind eye if people weren’t too blatant about it, and despite looking like a normal house from the outside it was impressively spacious and opulent inside.
After an ecclesiastical morning I went and had lunch with ewan (because what foreign holiday would be complete without running into someone who lives down the road and just happens to be visiting the same city). We met at the Foodhallen, which had a good range of choices, including several for the vegan. After lunch I gave Ramesh a call to see if he was feeling up to coming out, but as he wasn’t I went for another attraction he was less interested in - the Zoo! I hadn’t been to the Zoo for about 25 years or so, and wasn’t expecting to enjoy it nearly as much as I did. There was a panther who was very stealthy, sea-lions who were very loud and playful, lions who were very sleepy, a gorilla and a capybara who were both completely uninterested and much smaller and much larger than I expected respectively.
By the time I got back to the hotel Ramesh had rested sufficiently and we went out looking for dinner. We had foolishly assumed that on a Monday evening we’d probably be able to just walk into somewhere, but after the first three places we tried were fully booked, didn’t have any veggie options, and fully booked we decided to go back to the sushi place we’d liked on Saturday, and make a couple of bookings in the places that were popular enough to be fully booked.
And, yes, I'm annoyed it wasn't EVEN MORE like a Ted Chiang story than it was, but please do adapt as many Ted Chiang stories as you can. The tower-of-babel one would be amazing...
( Spoilers )
But the biggest problem with this book is the sexism. In almost all the story there is *one* major female character, Robin. She and all other women are referred to by their first names; all the men are referred to by their surnames. Robin is described well, as seen by the male viewpoint character, and there's a lot of action *involving* her. But she rarely does anything that affects the situation; for much of the story she's just a McGuffin.
To its credit, it has the best opening line I've seen in years: "Dirk Moeller didn't know if he could fart his way into a major diplomatic incident. But he was ready to find out."
So far we have managed 2 pools in Helsinki, 1 on the ferry, and 2 in Stockholm.
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Today we arrived in Copenhagen and our current airbnb in Fredericksberg is a very short walk from another local pool, plus there are a number of others I am investigating in case we have time for a second one ...
Which is that everyone who's interested in improving grip strength this way pretty much assumes -- not without reason, to be fair -- your wrist extensors are relatively weak compared to your flexors and focuses much more on strengthening them.
I just have literally the reverse problem. My wrist flexors are relatively weak compared to my extensors, and I'm really feeling it when I go climbing (or do aerial). (The tl;dr version of how the fuck you get to this really weird place, strength-wise, is: over ten years as a massage therapist.)
So! Does anyone have exercises for the flexors, specifically, that they're fond of? Variety especially would be good; I get bored of conditioning super quickly if I don't have different things to cycle through.
I love his granddaughter and I don’t want her feelings to be hurt by announcing on social media that I am expecting my first grandchild. She is 8 years old and knows that I am her father’s stepmother, but I still don’t want to hurt her. Whenever she comes over, my husband and I both spoil her (like grandparents should), but she has always favored her “Papa.”
The problem for me is that I am much younger than my husband, and I didn’t want my social media friends to think that I was old enough to have an 8-year-old grandchild.
How can I say that I am expecting my first grandchild without making her feel like she doesn’t count?
— Grandma to Be
Dear Grandma: I appreciate your sensitivity about this situation, but I have news for you — you are already a “Grandma.” You have been one for the past eight years, and for you to try to find a way to deny this now that you are about to have a “real” grandchild in your life is all about your own vanity.
Your young granddaughter wouldn’t be the only person surprised (and possibly hurt) by the revelation that she isn’t your grandchild. Her parents, especially the parent you “helped to raise,” would likely be quite wounded.
I could also venture a guess that the reason your granddaughter has always favored her “Papa” is because you are signaling to her in a variety of ways that she is a placeholder for the real grandchild who will someday come along and claim your heart.
I became a grandmother quite young — at least it seemed so at the time, because I wasn’t prepared for this life stage. But family comes to you in different ways and at different times, whether or not you’re ready (or “old enough”) for it.
And so now the thing to do is to take to social media to announce your joy at the birth of your second grandchild.
I'm being cagey about the identity of the conference because of reasons. Suffice it to say I spent three days getting my radical on with people who, hmm, could be said to identify as "psychiatric survivors" – people whom the mental health system has done profound harm and violated their human rights – from around the world, many (most?) of whom might be described as activists and there in that capacity, some of whom are also clinicians or ex-clinicians or psychology researchers. Lots of very explicit intersectionalism and inclusivism. Very emotionally intense, super intellectually stimulating, enormously morally compelling.
Since the default assumption at the conference was that attendees were psychiatric survivors, I was "out" about not being a psychiatric survivor myself but a mental health professional and there as an ally. That was... a very hard experience to describe. To do such a thing, and do it ethically, is extremely demanding of energy, because it entails such a high level of self-monitoring and attention to others, at literally every second. Yet at the same time, it was so wildly validating of my ethical values as a person and a clinician, in ways I hadn't even realized I was hungry for, it felt very spiritually nourishing and emotionally supportive. I realized after the second day that just in the program book and in the presentations I'd attended, that I'd heard the word "humanistic" more times in those two days than I'd heard it used by anybody not me in the previous five years. Or maybe more. I'm a humanistic therapist, and I'm literally welling up again just reflecting on that, and how clinically-philosophically isolated this reveals me to have been. And, my god, the first, like, three times the term went zipping by I thought, Hey, do they know what that means, technically, to a therapist? Ah, they're probably just using it as a synonym for "humanely", as lay people usually do. And it became clear that, no, at least some of the people using the term really did mean it clinically. And I was like Oh. They don't need me to explain it to them. They already know. Which, is, like, the fundamental unit of being understood. Talk about your being called in from the cold.
I went to this conference thinking of myself as an ally, someone there to support another people as they do their thing – an in a really important sense, that is exactly right – but to my surprise, I discovered that these people, despite not being clinicians, were clinically my people. I wound up doing a hell of a lot more personal sharing than I would ever have expected – certainly vastly, vastly more than I have ever done in a mental health professionals context. It was like, I suddenly realized I was in an environment in which I could talk about how furious I am that I am forced to use diagnoses on patients without their consent, how frustrated I am by how the bureacratic systems in which I must work compromise the integrity of the treatment I try to provide, how disgusted I often am by the conduct of colleagues and mental health institutions (I discovered the wonderful expression, "psychiatric hate-speech"), how indignant I am at all sorts of idiocy and injustice and unfairness in the system – all the things I am so careful never to say because of how poorly my colleagues may take it. (Not my imagination: The last session I attended drew quite a number of clinicians, who were all "AND FOR ANOTHER THING!"; the presenter afterwards told me she had presented the same talk at a conference on the philosophy of psychiatry for an audience that was half psychiatrists, and, in contrast, they were furious with her for her temerity.)
I got to have conversations about capitalism and disability, culture and identity, the history of psychiatry, the history of nationalism, what you can and can't do inside the health care system, other countries' nationalized (or not, where mental health is concerned) health care, and how money affects mental health care; I heard a slew of what I would call "mental health radical coming out stories". I met someone who is as into the history of the DSM as I am, and someone who has written an academic article about the ethical and clinical problems of diagnosis. I got politely chewed out once, early on, for using oppressive language, and then immediately apologized to for it, them saying ruefully that they have "a chip on [their] shoulder" about mental health care professionals and shouldn't have talked to me like that, and I assured them I was there to be chewed out and have my vocabulary corrected and was fine with it; I'm pretty sure they were way more upset about what they said to me than I was, and I feel bad about putting them in that position by my ignorance – but we've exchanged phone numbers and I'm hoping I might yet make it up to them.
There was a point where somebody asked me something like whether I had been learning a lot at the conference so far, and I thought a moment and replied that I had, but, "I am at this conference not just to learn things. I am here because, as a person and a clinician, these are my values."
So it was an experience that was weirdly simultaneously hard and easy. If you had asked me four days ago I would have said that it's probably impossible for an experience to require a very high level of scrupulous self-monitoring and yet feel welcoming of and safe for emotional vulnerability and risktaking. Yet that was precisely my experience.
It was demanding and beautiful and powerful and huggy and astonishing and uplifting and I'm exhausted and weepy and have like twenty new best friends.
In reality I was only able to go for the long weekend. I spent an eye-watering amount of money on a trip that didn't quite work for me, between flights, accommodation, Worldcon membership (when I actually only ended up attending for half a day), and just general living expenses in a not very well planned trip to an expensive city. It feels churlish to complain about being in a position to spend a bit too much on a less than perfect trip, and in many ways it was good, just not quite what I'd hoped for.
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It can be a new achievement or adventure, or just that you climbed and had fun; it can be that your favourite climbing wall is expanding or that you bought new rock shoes or that you found a cool ice-climbing vid on YouTube. No glee is too small -- or too big. Members are encouraged to cheer each other on and share the squee.
N.B. Please feel free to post your glee on any day of the week; the Friday glee is just to get the ball rolling.
To enhance this week's glee: Dani Fuertes finally completes the first ascent of "No Pain, No Gain".
For my first entry I decided to showcase my favourite drink and really the one that got me into fancy cocktails to begin with. It is time to rethink your gin and tonics.
Gin and tonics became famous in middle class England during the height of the British Empire, when India was still very much under British control. In order to combat the spread of malaria among British soldiers, a daily issue of tonic water was given because in 1800 it was discovered by Scottish doctor George Cleghorn that quinine present in tonic water could be used to prevent and treat the disease. However, tonic water alone is very bitter and not refreshing, which is especially important when you are a British soldier posted in far-away and very hot India. So the soldiers began to mix the issue with gin (a local Indian botanical spirit), and lime and water. Thus the gin and tonic was born. The cocktail itself became popular during this time as soldiers returned home to England and shared the refreshing beverage with their civilian friends. Within years gin and tonics were a staple among middle class English-people as a statement of worldliness and a symbol of the diversity of the entire British Empire.
The traditional gin and tonic is very simple (duh, it was made by British soldiers after all). You get an ounce of gin over ice with tonic and garnished with a lime. You can squirt some extra lime juice in, or simply plop the lime wedge into the drink and enjoy. However, the problem with adding lime to the mix from a mixology perspective is that gin and tonic both are already very acidic. Adding lime simply makes the drink more acidic (and a little more bitter albeit with some sweet). So we can re-think the gin and tonic by perhaps adding a different garnish.
Now for this drink, I highly recommend Hendrick's gin which is brewed in Scotland using a blend of traditional and non-traditional techniques that involve steeping the alcohol in traditional gin aromatics with the addition of cucumber extract and rose peddles (see where I am going with this). The result is a truly fine gin with a hint of fruity after-notes. But I must stress that gin and tonics when you add cucumber are good with any gin, even those terrible bar gins that are better suited (in my opinion) for removing paint from cars than human consumption (yes, Beefeater I am looking right at you!).
The following is the penlessej way of putting this drink together.
1) Start with a clean and dry tumbler or rocks glass (no need for these tall glasses and certainly stay away from coffee mugs, come on now what is wrong with you we are making art in a glass here!).
2) Add ice. You can fill to the brim or just add a few chunks. If you are really fancy you might use ball ice which melts slower. Doesn't matter.
3) Add one slice of English cucumber on top of the ice and pour over one ounce of Hendrick's gin.
4) Add tonic water. Now you can go with cheap tonic water that is plain or you can dig out the fancier stuff that has infused botanicals, etc. Doesn't matter. I prefer just a plain tonic but you can be adventurous and try out different infused flavours without question.
5) Do not stir the drink(!), pouring the tonic should stir up the gin enough. Stirring will just make the ice break up and melt faster, and no one wants that. It also induces little bubbles into the entire drink and that just looks weird in my opinion.
6) Add a cucumber slice or twist to garnish over the rim (to be left alone or added to drink but the lucky person who gets to consume this delicious beverage). You can also add a sprig of mint if you are feeling really adventurous, it adds a little freshness to the flavour of the drink when use but be aware that some people really do not like mint flavour.
If you are feeling really adventurous and want to take your drink to the next level; you can muddle some cucumber to add before the gin instead of a slice. This will really bring out the flavour of the cucumber and elevates the drink without question. It also makes the whole thing turn a slight green colour which looks cool in the glass in the sun because the quinine gives off a cobalt blue colour-- pretty cocktails.
What you get? A delicious gin and tonic with all of the good-head-lightening and social lubricating effects of gin but without the acidity. Don't be surprised if she goes down faster than expected, this is an extremely refreshing and tasty drink and perfect for summer days. It is also great because you can make a big batch of it and serve it right from a pitcher with friends-- or for you, either is cool (just don't be driving anything afterward).
If you use the recipe or try out the drink yourself, please let me know. This drink is leaps and bounds my favourite drink of them all and is a staple in my house just not during the summer but all year round.
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... which I served up with The Rice Of My People, which I'd apparently somehow not made for A before; he is a Fan. It turns out. ( Read more... )
I arrived home to discover that she had made this wonder in the living room:
And I am looking forward to being allowed to open any of the things underneath it!
(Jim is being left with strict instructions that he is not allowed to eat any of the boxes. Or the tree. Or be sick on any of them. Or peek inside.)
There're lots of gorgeous photos & great snark.
It was lovely to see osos and liv.
I always find travel a little stressful but I have got better at not worrying. It's still feels like more of a hurdle than travelling locally, even if it shouldn't, but less so.
Helsinki was nice. I didn't do a lot of exploring, but some. I love water, and enjoyed going to another city based on the sea. Helsinki itself isn't on as many islands as Stockholm, but the harbour is covered with them and several tourist attractions are on one island or another.
We went to the zoo, and I went out to the island fortress Suomelina, both nice ferry rides. Suomelina was originally fortified by Sweden when Finland was part of Sweden, and later controlled by Finland and by Russia, with modern fortifications added to the older ones. The original fortifications are incredible to see, vast stone walls dozens of feet thick with tunnels at the bottom surrounding grassy courtyards, and at the main entrance, stone steps swooping down to the sea from a giant gate that frames the sun.
When we flew back, I realised what Liv had already told me, but not previously realised the extent of, that there really are continuous islands all the way from Finland to Sweden.
Zoo pictures are slowly being uploaded on twitter :)
Food was expensive but fairly easy. Few places had good vegetarian options already on the menu, but everyone I spoke to was eager to to be flexible and make up a cheaper price for a plate full of all the side dishes, without me needing to explain or anything.
Part of the expense is being in a foreign conference centre when the pound is getting weaker, but as I understand it, Finland *is* typically more expensive. I don't know enough about it, but my impression is, partly due to needing to import more food, and partly due to higher taxes and wages. But I wish people would acknowledge that latter part when complaining.
Worldcon was fun. Registration was incredibly quick with a computerised "scan barcode and print label" system, and everything was well organised apart from being over-full on the first two days.
Most of the panels I went to were decent but none stood out to me as amazing.
I loved seeing authors I cared about, at the steven universe panel, at the wild cards panel (and winning hugos). The quantum computing panel didn't tell me a lot about the theory but was fascinating for telling us about what computers had practically been built -- and apparently IBM have one you can run programs on online!!
I had a better balance between different sorts of things, I did some panels, some meeting people. I met up with people, but didn't feel like I was constantly missing out on fun things just round the corner. I got some books I was excited by but not too many.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My stepfather’s grandson’s wedding is black-tie optional, and my stepfather’s children are renting him a tux. My mom, who is 90, thought she would wear a nice pants outfit with a dressy jacket, and is resistant to buying something new. She has been through a lot this year (treatment for lymphoma, cancer surgery, and she recently fell and broke her pelvis, so she is in a lot of pain).
I and my three sisters (my mom’s only children) live on the opposite coast, but we are now being pressured by the mother of the groom (my stepfather’s daughter) and my stepfather to see that she is outfitted appropriately -- not just for the wedding, but also for the rehearsal dinner (cocktail attire) and the wedding breakfast to be held the day after the wedding.
They have also expressed concerns about the shoes my mother prefers (very safe, comfortable, but not at all dressy). My sister even heard my stepfather tell her that if she doesn’t get something new to wear, she can stay home and not attend the wedding or other events.
My mother doesn’t stand up for herself, unfortunately. Two of us will be traveling to see her soon, and plan to take her shopping. My sister is even purchasing a few things for my mom that she will bring with her, in the hopes that maybe something will fit and work for this event.
Personally, I think it is extremely superficial of them to dictate what she wears (especially since the wedding is six months from now!). If it were me, I would just be thrilled they are both well enough to attend, regardless of how they are dressed.
Is my mother wrong to resist the request to buy something more formal? Or should the step-family back off?
GENTLE READER: What happened to the “optional” part?
While Miss Manners always advocates dressing properly for the occasion -- and generally abhors “optional,” as it just invites chaos -- the particulars of your mother’s dress seem to be unduly fixated upon here. There is certainly a lot of undue angst being put into this poor woman’s wardrobe that seemingly requires three separate outfits and uncomfortable, possibly dangerous, shoes.
If your mother can reasonably be jollied into the shopping expedition or accepts one of your sister’s choices for one new outfit, fine. But if not, please talk to your stepfather about “backing off.” Surely this cannot really be worth all of this fuss.
Which is to say, I am at a conference. So far it's been a really good conference.
Imma gonna fall over into my bed momentarily.
ETA 8/17/17 21:16: Still conferencing. I move that henceforth anything called a "BBQ" must serve something cooked with barbecue sauce; absence that criterion, it is a "cookout".
Someone at the conference gave me copy of this drawing which I hadn't seen before, and which made me tear up.
Bootstrapping problem: I still have to decide whether or not to try to get there in time tomorrow for the morning talks, or catch some additional Zs; the problem is I am now so exhausted my judgment is not just impaired but kind of non-functional. Normally, I'm pretty good at blowing things off to get more rest. This is, however, effectively a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, of which I would like to make the most.
There will always be a space between alt-right and alt-left and it will always be larger and more commonly used.