"Home away from home"

Sep. 22nd, 2017 03:07 am
rosefox: A bearded man in a yarmulke shouting L'CHAIM! (Judaism)
[personal profile] rosefox
Selichot )

Rosh Hashanah )

It's genuinely disorienting to encounter all these spaces where I don't have to educate anyone or fight to be seen for who I am. Other people have already done that work, and leaders have clearly been receptive to it. (Rabbi Lippman is queer, but I don't assume that cis queer people will be welcoming to or understanding of trans people, especially nonbinary trans people.) I get to just show up and be a human being in human community. What an immense privilege. What a gift. Honestly, that might be the thing that gets me to stick with this—just the pure pleasure of being in a place where I didn't personally have to claw out a space for myself.

Josh met me and Kit in the park and we walked for a while (GMaps Pedometer says I walked 3.2 miles today, most of it pushing a heavy stroller with a heavy toddler; my feet and arms are very tired). I teased him that he should be glad I didn't make him meet the rabbi. But this is my thing, really. Maybe it's my latest three-month hobby. Maybe it'll be more than that. We'll see.

Wednesday Media Consumption Roundup

Sep. 20th, 2017 02:22 pm
mousetrappling: Photo of me wearing tinsel as a feather boa (Default)
[personal profile] mousetrappling

Books

Fiction: still reading Neal Stephenson's "Reamde", a bit over halfway now. I think there's a vague feeling that it's pulling back together rather than opening out now, but nowhere near the endgame yet.

Non-fiction: still reading Gerald Harriss's "Shaping the Nation: England 1360-1461" - more about the church (as institution) and monasteries in particular this time. Which never quite recovered from the Black Death to their previous levels of population, might almost say that the monastic way of life was in decline.

Maps: 200BCE-500AD - the rise of Christianity and the decline of Rome. China also falls to pieces over this period. And the first empires in South America arise (Tiwanaku & Wari). Madagascar got settled by Indonesians, which I hadn't realised, and New Zealand is still uninhabited.

Listening

Podcasts: ep 28-33 of Renaissance English History podcast. Mostly been bios of this person or that who was significant during the period, still interesting, but still the least favourite of the ones I'm keeping listening to (so OK but not great).

Sunday podcast: ep 7 & 8 of Our Man in the Middle East - build up to 9/11, the previous career of Osama bin Laden and the buildup of reasons for the US & UK to invade Iraq a second time.

Music: while running I've mostly listened to 80s compilations.

Watching

ep 3 of Reginald D. Hunter's Songs of the South - Mississippi & Louisiana. A good series overall, kept the tone light but didn't feel shallow.

ep 2 of The World's Busiest Cities - Mexico City this time, most of the sprawl is self-built by people just arriving and putting up a house where they found space.

ep 1 & 2 of Dangerous Borders: A Journey Across India & Pakistan - two British journalists, whose families are from the Punjab, making parallel journeys along the border region. Different tone to the other stuff I recorded about Partition, this has a focus on what the countries are like now, what life is like now, and so it rather more upbeat overall. Without sugarcoating the realities of both present & past.

Best Album 2017: Meet the Mercury Prize Shortlist & Mercury Music Prize: Best Album of the Year 2017 - I wasn't that keen on the shortlist, a lot felt bland or if not bland then not interesting enough to investigate further. The interview snippets put me off some of the bands too. For me the stand out act was Kate Tempest, tho I also quite liked the performance from Stormzy. But it was Sampha who won it and he was in the bland category.

Indie Classics at the BBC - one of the Beebs music programmes that strings together various bits of live footage they have in a theme, with facts subtitled over them. The theme here was earlier indie music, it ended with Happy Mondays & the Stone Roses, and was fun to watch. Wasn't just the obvious bands or tracks.

usability struggles

Sep. 19th, 2017 10:51 pm
cellio: (Default)
[personal profile] cellio

I spend a lot of time on, and am a volunteer moderator for, several Stack Exchange sites. (Mi Yodeya is one of them.) SE has a banner ("top bar") that is the same across all sites. It contains notifications, information about the logged-in user, and some key navigation links. For moderators it contains a few more things relevant to that job.

Until recently it looked like this (non-moderator view):

original

The red counter is the inbox (waiting messages) and the green one is reputation changes. If there aren't any, you just get the gray icons that those alerts are positioned over. If I were a moderator on that site, there'd be a diamond to the left of my user picture and a blue square with the flag count to the left of that.

They've just changed this design. (Well, the change is rolling out.) Here's what it looks like now (for a moderator):

new, notifications

The most important links for moderation are the last two things, the diamond and the blue box with the number (flags). They're on the far right, where they're less likely to be seen for various reasons. (Non-moderators don't get those indicators.)

In the old design, those moderator indicators -- which are important -- were toward the center where they're easier to see. Also, all the numbers were a little bigger and easier to see.

When this was announced there was a lot of immediate discussion in the moderators-only chat room, during which I got a little upset about the reduced usability, especially those moderator controls -- which had a good chance of being scrolled away in a not-huge browser window, because SE doesn't use responsive design. After I calmed down I wrote a post on Meta about how this was going to make it harder for me to do my volunteer job, particularly with vision challenges. I expected to get a few sympathy votes, some "get a bigger monitor" snark (which wouldn't help, by the way), and no results.

That post is now one of my highest-scoring posts on the network. And I have a meeting with the product manager and a designer at SE next week to demonstrate my difficulties in using this in more detail.

Meanwhile, I've gotten some help with userscripts from some other moderators. It's hacky and a little buggy and it slows down page loads and I have no idea how to adjust some things, but at least I can see my notifications and the moderator stuff is in a better place. It'll do for now.

I sure hope I can get them to bake some of this in, though. The page-load delay is a little disconcerting as stuff jumps around on the screen. (Also, userscripts do not work on my Android tablet.)

Beyond the immediate problem, though, what I really hope for is to find some way to raise a little awareness that usability is hard, designers are not the users, there are all kinds of people with all kinds of usage patterns and constraints, and you need to somehow, systematically, figure out how to design for the larger audience. That's going to be the hard part.

Reading

Sep. 17th, 2017 10:29 am
magid: (Default)
[personal profile] magid
This week I finished two books, John Allen Paulos' A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper and James Hamblin's If Our Bodies Could Talk.

Paulos' book was printed over two decades ago, so some of the examples given felt dated. Overall, however, despite the potential paradigm shift of the availability of the news on the Internet, not just paper, it felt rather timely. People still do not think critically about the news they read, from whatever sources. Paulos looks at all sorts of ways the news can be inaccurate, through all the sections of a traditional newspaper, but even more importantly in some ways, how it can be completely true, yet leave wrong impressions. One example was about voting procedures, and the various schemes that could be used for making sure an election ends up reflecting the will of the people; I was not surprised to see a variety of different possibilities mentioned, with the strengths and weaknesses of each. That and other essays pointed out some of the problems with how our government is set up. I was also interested to see the references to Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, having read The Undoing Project back in January (this year has included a much higher percentage than my usual for nonfiction).

Hamblin's book is also set up as a set of connected short essays grouped by theme, this time based on human body systems (not the usual ones, but perceiving, eating, drinking, relating, and enduring). I learned some biology, and how there are today many things still to learn (that we may be in the process of learning, even), and there are awful ways in which the body can go wrong that I hadn't known of before. What I particularly appreciated was how the author pointed out that many health issues are not solvable in a hospital, but are about social and economic disparity (which reminded me of a book I read two weeks ago, White Trash, a history of class in the US, which reviewed all the ways in which the playing field is not, in fact, equal, even now) that need to be addressed. He also pointed out how in many ways, the US healthcare system is not actually about health, but about delivery of billable stuff, which is not needed when *actually* healthy. Prevention is what people might want, but the companies don't have nearly as much to bill then.... It was a bit depressing, realizing that, again, there are huge, complicated systems embedded in how our society works that are so extremely flawed. The one thing I really was not pleased with was how there was passing reference to 'just' losing weight, as if that were a trivial thing. If it were, there would not be so much failure at that all around.

a conversation snippet

Sep. 16th, 2017 10:36 pm
cellio: (shira)
[personal profile] cellio
Tonight at our s'lichot service (something tied to the high holy days), a fellow congregant greeted me and said "I haven't seen you in hours!". (We'd both been there this morning.) I said "hours and hours!". He complained that I was getting carried away.

I responded by saying: "hours" means at least two; "hours and hours" therefore means at least four; it's been longer than that since this morning, so "hours and hours" is not inappropriate.

It was at this point that somebody standing nearby said "oh, that's where I know you from!". We'd both been in a talmud-heavy class a while back.

There are worse things to be remembered for. :-)

farm share, week 15

Sep. 14th, 2017 06:22 pm
magid: (Default)
[personal profile] magid
  • a pound of carrots
  • a pound of yellow onions (= 1 large)
  • two delicata squash (plus an extra for late bonus)
  • two pounds of green bell peppers (plus an extra for late bonus)
  • four Hungarian wax (hot) peppers
  • two pounds of field tomatoes
  • half a pound of salad mix
  • a bunch of curly green kale
  • a bok choy (one of the all light green kinds)
  • six ounces of shiitake mushrooms

First thoughts: another batch of white bean and kale soup with carrots (need to get some white beans, maybe some potatoes). roasted peppers and tomatoes, perhaps to put in a lasagna. delicata squash baked with maple and cranberries. some kind of green salad, of course.

[work] "Okay. Where are we?"

Sep. 14th, 2017 09:16 am
mangosteen: (Default)
[personal profile] mangosteen
Things I say non-ironically: “I’m used to occupying a weird spot in the corporate realpolitik orgchart… the big open spot in right-center field where the outfielders aren’t because someone read the play wrong.”

More on that later, but I wanted to get the thought out.

daf bit: Sanhedrin 60

Sep. 14th, 2017 09:00 am
cellio: (talmud)
[personal profile] cellio

Blasphemy is a capital offense. Conviction for a capital offense requires careful testimony of two direct witnesses. This poses a problem, as they must testify to what exactly the person said. To minimize the damage, the court sent everybody out except for the witnesses and then told the first witness: tell us literally what he said. The witness did, and the judges tore their garments. The second witness then said "I heard this too" without repeating the testimony. (The mishna then says the third witness does likewise. I'm not sure where the third witness came from, as only two are required.)

The g'mara discusses tearing one's garments when hearing blasphemy. Rav Yehudah said in the name of Shmuel that one tears only when hearing a curse of the tetragramaton, but not when hearing other divine names. Rabbi Chiyya says that one who hears God's name in a blasphemous context today doesn't tear his garments, because if he did the garment would be torn to shreds. But who is R' Chiyya talking about? If we say that he hears this blasphemy from Jews, are Jews so irreverent as to frequently demean the name of God? No, he must be talking about hearing it from gentiles. But do gentiles know this specific name? No, if we're talking about gentiles it must be in regard to any name, and there'd be enough of that to leave one's garments in shreds. The g'mara concludes that nowadays one is not obligated to tear his garments when hearing the curse of a gentile and a curse using another name, but originally one was obligated to tear for both, contrary to what Shmuel says. (mishna 56a, g'mara 60a)

In case you're wondering (I did!) why the second witness doesn't tear his garment on hearing the first witness repeat the blasphemy, the g'mara says it's because he already tore his garment when he heard the original blasphemer. The judges, however, are hearing it for the first time.

Wednesday media consumption roundup

Sep. 13th, 2017 07:58 pm
mousetrappling: Photo of me wearing tinsel as a feather boa (Default)
[personal profile] mousetrappling

Books

Fiction: still reading Neal Stephenson's "Reamde", and will be for a while yet - I think I'm only about a third of the way through. Still enjoying it, still not sure I know where the story is going yet, the introduction of complicating factors to the plot is still continuing.

Non-fiction: still reading Gerald Harriss's "Shaping the Nation: England 1360-1461" - finished off the chapter on urban life and started the one on the institutional Church (as opposed to religion which is the next chapter). Read about bishops, and was surprised to discover it was to large extent a meritocracy. Eventual bishops rose through the ranks in court administration (generally) before promotion to a see, most had a university education and over this period more & more had higher degrees. Generally educated in law rather than theology, except during Henry VI's reign when theologians were more promoted.

Maps: 800-200BCE - waves of empires in the Middle East (the Persians come & go, Alexander ditto). China fragments, and then re-coalesces (via the conquest of the First Emperor). India also comes together as an almost single unit briefly under Ashoka. Iron working spreads from niche tech to in use across Eurasia. And several of the great religions/philosophies are founded - Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism.

Listening

Podcasts: ep 2-28 of Renaissance English History podcast. Somewhat patchy to start off with, but it feels like she's beginning to hit her stride (and the dates on the episodes are getting closer together). It does feel like the most amateur of the podcasts I've listened to so far but still interesting.

Sunday podcast: ep 5 & 6 of Our Man in the Middle East - more Jerusalem/Israel in the 90s, the assassination of their Prime Minister which also killed the peace process.

Music: while running I've listened Prince, Scissor Sisters, Roxette and an 80s compilation.

Games

Diablo - bumped up the difficulty level a notch, and died loads as we're still adjusting to that ;)

Watching

ep 4 of From Russia to Iran - Armenia & finally Iran. This last episode felt a little padded, partly because there were big jumps in distance so they felt we needed more orientation. A good series, and a part of the world I knew nothing about before.

ep 2 of Reginald D. Hunter's Songs of the South - Alabama and Georgia (where he was born but left). Delved rather more into the racial tensions of the South along with the music (Confederate flags at Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts for instance), but somehow remained upbeat in tone.

Seven Days in Summer: Countdown to Partition - more about Partition. This focused on the absolute clusterfuck of the handover & division process. Perhaps the violence would've happened anyway, but I don't think the British Government of the time helped the situation one bit (like, some dude who'd never been to India before was flown in to draw the boundaries between India & Pakistan and the line wasn't even finalised till after the handover so people were in limbo & relying on rumour).

ep 3 of The Sweet Makers - our intrepid confectioners were pretending to be Victorians, and were perhaps a little more competent with this level of tech than the older tech. Fun series, but not as high quality as other living history type documentaries we've watched.

ep 1 of The World's Busiest Cities - Dan Snow, Anita Rani & Ade Adepitan visiting some of the busiest cities. This episode was Hong Kong, which has a massive gulf between the winners of capitalism and the losers (people living in cubicles no bigger than their beds, Filipino domestic servants whose days off are spent camped out in public spaces because they have no place of their own).

rosefox: A man's head with a panel open to show gears, and another man looking inside. (examined head)
[personal profile] rosefox
I don't want to write another huge long entry tonight, because last night's took 90 minutes and then I went to bed super late, but I do want to leave myself some quick notes on a thing. When Kit was off from daycare for a week, I was up and dressed by 11 every morning so I could do childcare. I put on real clothes and left the house every day. I did social things and I did actively fun things (not what I'm coming to think of as enjoyable sloth things, like playing video games or hanging out on Slack). My body and brain were engaged. I felt GREAT. I enjoyed every day and ended the week feeling like I'd been on vacation—like I'd gone on a holiday to New York and done all those things I'm always too busy or tired or whatever to do. And I did it while working (at night) and staying totally on top of my deadlines, even the ones accelerated by the holiday.

So I need to figure out how to do that more. I hoped a week of early rising would reset my body clock but of course I'm right back to going to bed at 5 a.m. (or later—Monday morning I went to bed at half past nine, which is not okay and has set me up for feeling like crap all week) so I will have to work on that part because I think it's pretty essential. Having something fun to get up for really helped, a thing that has been true going back to my childhood; I would be late to school every weekday morning for months but happily get up at dawn on a weekend to go to the Stormville flea market with my mother. Even more crucially, I would care enough to go to bed early—a thing I did during Kit's week off too—so that getting up early didn't wreck me and wreck the event I was looking forward to.

I don't think I can get up before 10 on a regular basis, but if I got up at 10 or 10:30 to be out the door by 11 for a ~12:00 thing someplace, that sounds doable. It just has to be a fun thing. I have an OT appointment at 13:00 and I genuinely enjoy OT in addition to it being kind of vital for my health and well-being, but it's not the exhilarating kind of fun, so going to bed early and getting up early and getting there on time are all challenging.

What are exuberant fun things that could happen around noon? I think I need something where I'm making a commitment to someone else, at least at first; I've tried setting schedules through sheer willpower before and it's never worked out. Lunches with friends? Classes of some kind? (Ideally free or cheap ones.) Swapping language lessons with someone who wants to improve their spoken or written English and help me learn to read kanji or sign ASL? A teaching or tutoring gig? (Maybe the local library needs volunteers in their adult learning center. I've sent them a note.) A crafting meetup? A chorus or other singing group? A walking club? Doing storytime or otherwise helping out at Kit's daycare? It doesn't need to be a big thing or a long thing or a very structured thing. It just has to start at around the right time of day and get me out of the house and engage my body and mind and bring me real joy. Nothing will do that as well as time with Kit, but some approximation should be possible. Suggestions are very welcome, keeping in mind that I used to write the learning section of the nonsense nyc weekly events newsletter and already know about basically every source of free and cheap educational experiences in the city. :)

Question re: OVFF

Sep. 12th, 2017 05:41 pm
[personal profile] osewalrus
Can someone who has driven from the DC Metro Area to OVFF give me some idea as to how long this takes and whether it is a better option than flying? 

A restatement of an old cliche

Sep. 12th, 2017 06:54 am
[personal profile] osewalrus
On Government:

The ideal government will have the values of the Federation, the business acumen of the Ferengi, the sense of honor of the Klingons, and the subtlety of the Romulans. Our current government has the values of the Romulans, the business acumen of the Federation, the sense of honor of the Ferengi, and the subtlety of the Klingons. 

-Harold Feld



(Original for reference: 
Heaven -- Is where the police are British, the chefs are Italian, the mechanics are German, the lovers are French, and it is all organized by the Swiss.

Hell -- Is where the police are German, the chefs are British, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and it is all organized by the Italians.)

Embroidery

Sep. 11th, 2017 02:39 pm
mousetrappling: Photo of me wearing tinsel as a feather boa (Default)
[personal profile] mousetrappling

After enjoying doing embroidery on my birthday I worked out that I could sit & stitch while we were watching TV, so I've actually made some progress on the penguin I'm stitching over the last couple of weeks!

My stitches aren't as neat as they once were. Primarily because I'm out of practice - they're still OK so I'm keeping going and they'll get better over time. But some of it's also because my eyesight isn't as good as it was even 10 years ago, seems there's nothing quite as good as embroidery to show up the deficiencies in one's close up vision.

"That's rather nice, actually"

Sep. 10th, 2017 02:45 am
rosefox: Autumn leaves on a wet sidewalk. (autumn)
[personal profile] rosefox
What a lovely week it's been. What a lovely thing to be able to say that!

The weather has been 100% autumn and I am HERE FOR IT. Today I wore my hoodie! And zipped it up! While it was still light out! I've had my window open for three nights running. So much delicious aaaaaair.

J and I had a real date last Saturday (we went to a friend's BBQ for a bit, which doesn't sound like a date but was amazingly nice to do as two adults with no child in tow), and X and I had a real date today (we went to Coney Island for the first time in ages), and we even got a real family date last weekend where we snuggled up in my bed and watched Pacific Rim and ate popcorn. There have been lots of cuddles and hugs and smooches lately as we all savor finally being healthy. The week Kit was off from daycare was splendidly vacation-like and I came off of it feeling rested and relaxed and happy; now they're adjusting well to being back in daycare, and eating and sleeping like they're being paid for it, which means they should have a big growth spurt pretty soon. I'm having lots of fun writing fanfic for [community profile] crossovering and I just nominated fandoms for [community profile] yuletide for the first time in something like 12 years. J has been cooking a lot, and tonight we axed our towering tottering basil and made pesto, which was easy and delicious; I threw in some macadamia nuts on a whim and didn't bother measuring anything and it worked out great. [twitter.com profile] schanoes came over on Friday and we had lunch and talked nonstop for three hours. I figured out how to comb my hair while it's starting to grow out. The meeting for Kit's IFSP went extremely well and all their PT services have been renewed. They're starting to play with their food sometimes, which is a big improvement on being wary of it. It's just been a nice week.

I have to keep the focus pretty tight to write about things this way, because the land is being destroyed by fire and storm and a great many people we care about are having a really hard time right now. But that makes me cherish our little oasis all the more. We're able to offer other people shelter and support again, after months of barely being able to cope with our own stuff, and it feels so good to be able to help our friends and to have our feet on stable ground. For however long this lasts, I plan to bask in it and store up good memories to get me through the next round of challenges.

Farm share, week 14

Sep. 8th, 2017 12:38 pm
magid: (Default)
[personal profile] magid
  • a bunch of lacinato kale
  • a head of lettuce (I chose red leaf)
  • two pounds of white onions
  • a pound and a quarter of rainbow carrots (I chose purple and orange ones; I like the intensity of color)
  • a pound and a half pounds of mixed beets (plus some extras for being later in the pickup; I chose red over yellow or Chioggia)
  • a smallish head of cabbage (plus another for later pickup)
  • two pounds = three green peppers (plus another for later pickup)
  • two pounds of field tomatoes
  • six ounces of oyster mushrooms

Profile

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magid

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