Thursday, May 29, 2014

On Privacy

Let me clarify something from my last post. I am all about making sacrifices to keeping people safe in society. I am willing to do things that I think are inconvenient or miserable—like airport security, the invasion of privacy re: riffling through my luggage, bodyscans, etc—if that means saving lives or bettering the world or getting everyone to hold hands and love each other.

I am not okay with abuse of that willingness. If the TSA decided to throw away my suitcase, we'd have problems. If the contents of my laptop needed to be scanned, for the sake of rifling through photographs or whatever, we'd have problems. If I get someone in security who proceeded to grope me or some other disgusting abuse of their power, you can bet we'd have some fucking problems. There is a fine line between acceptable and awful, and even I don't know exactly where that line falls.

Here is a great article from Cory Doctorow about privacy and protecting yourself, including tools and software you can use for privacy. Am I completely, 100%, without-a-doubt on Cory Doctorow's wavelength? No. But I'm also not dealing with trade secrets or security details or anything really dangerous where I'd require internet privacy to save my life. I don't live in a country where my Facebook friends are reviewed at roadblocks, determining my future travels or incarceration (read the article). I am happy these security things exist. I am also not happy that they exist, for all the baddies to get a hold of them as well. That includes any baddies hiding behind official masks, not just the ones operating in garages.

And hence the quandry. There is no perfect world. Decide for yourself. (And for the love of all that is holy, BE NICE TO PEOPLE.)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Have some things!

I am making up for my lack of intelligent things to say by sharing cool pictures and videos. And perhaps I will throw in a recipe!

For instance, this absolutely brilliant video of Peter Dinklage summing up Game of Thrones in 45 seconds. I was in tears I was laughing so hard. I would just like to take this moment to say that last scene in Sunday's episode (the one with Prince Oberyn and Tyrion, I don't know how to describe it without giving anything away) was one of the most badass, gutwrenching scenes in television that I have seen in a long time. It was better than the Red Wedding and Dracarys, better than the last season-half of Doctor Who (though that isn't too hard), and I would be more than happy to have Prince Oberyn pledge himself to me for anything. Just saying. He's got your back.

More Facebook creeping. Look, I don't like Facebook much either. I don't really care to know what everyone and their mother is doing, I don't want to weed through all the uninformed political rants, and I don't care which bar you're at or who is the mayor of whatever-the-fuck or who beat level whatever of Candy Crush. But there's no denying that it is a great tool for getting in touch with the people you are interested in connecting with. But this is how I feel about it: Facebook has every right to use their app to bring in revenue. They are, after all, a business. If you don't want them knowing which music you listen to or what tv shows you watch, don't install their app. If you really don't like the way they handle their privacy rules, don't put personal information up on FB, or don't have a FB at all. By putting your information into their servers, you have given that information up to them. If they decide to use it, and you accept their privacy/sharing agreement by continuing to use their product, there is nothing you can do about it. Suck it up or remove yourself and your information from their system.

The way I see it, there are certain things you give up by living in society. And that's just how it is, if you don't like it, feel free to live in a secluded cabin in the woods. For instance: yes, airport security sucks. Yes, they invade your privacy and make you late for flights. But if getting patted down is what it costs to keep other people safe, they can pat me down ALL FUCKING DAY. If tearing apart my suitcase allows them to find something nefarious in someone else's suitcase, they can tear it apart for every goddamn flight I take. If that is the cost of getting me and everyone else several thousand miles in a few hours (a luxury modern society allows us), that is a trade I am willing to make every single time.

I could talk about this all day. Moving on. \end{rant}

Fordite, though I was skeptical, is actually pretty awesome.

And here is the promised recipe! I make a mean chili (not vegetarian, not gluten free). Phil's brother is the original creator of this banging dish. I usually also add a tablespoon or so of taco seasoning, for a little extra som'in'-som'in', and always extra red pepper, because food should be SPICY at all times always.

Epic Chili “It’s really more of a gumbo”
  • 6 small chicken breasts, 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cans black beans, 1 can light kidney beans, 1 can dark kidney beans
  • 5 jalapenos, 3 bell peppers (green, red, yellow), 2 zucchini
  • Onion and garlic, to taste, fresh or granulated (I'm allergic to onion, so I never really include this in recipes. I guess normal people would use a full onion and 2-4 garlic cloves??)
  • 2 cans sweet white corn
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes, 1 bottle Corona (or equal amount chicken broth for GF)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder and 2 tablespoons cumin, salt and pepper
  • Shredded cheese for topping
1. Bake chicken breasts at 350 in covered dish for 35 min. Shred.
2. Sauté ground beef with onion and garlic, if using.
3. Dice veggies. Add everything to large soup pot and simmer until veggies are tender. Add extra seasonings to taste. Serve with rice.

The chickens are fighting back.

Beautiful rhododendron in full bloom in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why yes, I will eat those Gushers for breakfast.

I'm thinking of buying a new wardrobe consisting entirely of my library. Litographs are awesome. Posters and t-shirts! Posters are cool, but why buy that when you can have a T-SHIRT??? (In other news, I have the fashion sense of a teenage boy.) But I can inflict my love of books on entire countries! MWUAHAHAHA!!! Check out all their t-shirts. And posters, if you must. And even better, Litographs pairs up with the International Book Bank to promote literacy! Double win!

There are some benefits to being an adult. For instance: buying a mondo box of Gushers without any accompanying lecture. And then proceeding to eat said Gushers for dinner, also without any accompanying lecture. And topping off the Gushers with Babybel cheeses and roasted asparagus. (It's healthy!) DINNER.

Along the train line, some mystery artists are "paint bombing." There is the above section of trees and grass, every surface painted pepto-pink (sorry for the blurriness, it's hard to take a quick picture through a window on a moving train). There is also a pink shack, an orange building, and lime green train tracks. I think it's totally awesome. Would love to find good pictures of everything (or even hunt them down myself for some pictures!).

Gorgeous flowers in our yard.

The bell at the best Thai place evar (which also happens to be local).

Baby robin!

In other news... IT BEGINS. The Harry Potter Reread. Via the badass Jim Dale audiobooks. Cue work tears.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Things 'round town, for all my sexy readers.

Tuesday night I pulled about 350 goldenrod plants out of a 12 x 4 foot bed near the back gate. I am not exaggerating about that number either, the number of plants in that tiny space was astounding. It's progress. (The good thing about goldenrod is that it attracts birds and bees and butterflies. I'll have to find something else to bring all the lovely woodland creatures to our yard. Like milkshakes.) That being said, I really don't understand how people garden for stress relief. It's nice being outside, but the whole "keeping plants alive" thing is a foreign concept to me. I overwater, I underwater, I plant the wrong things next to each other and they get angry... I really don't get it. Please send help. I planted tomatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers, beans, and peas. So far, I have one tomato seedling, zero cucumbers or peppers, one bean seedling, and a fuckton of peas (they're gonna be awesome!) I really hope I get some tomatoes!

This is goldenrod. This is not my yard. It grows approximately 1000 plants per square foot. From

I read the first Veronica Mars book, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. It was quite good, but I imagine it's the type of book where only the already-fans will be able to get into it, because there isn't much along the lines of character development or explanation. The whole Veronica Mars franchise is awesome and badass, but I'd recommend to start with the show, then see the movie, then read the books. Now I'm reading The Universe vs. Alex Woods. It was a bit slow to start up (waaay too much set up), but now that I've finally met Mr. Peterson, it's great. I recommend this one, with the warning to stick through until page 100.

I'm working through The Artist's Way, slowly. My writing got pretty derailed, and I'm trying to get back into it gently. I tend to do too much, get overwhelmed, and then steer clear of it for months. I'm working up my stamina and focusing on keeping it for me. I don't need something else to stress me out in life, especially something that's self-inflicted. In place of writing, I'm knitting my first sweater! I should really add pictures to the project, but you can see what it'll look like if you click the pattern. It is very swell. I shall wear it with Harry Potter glasses and a Gandalf pipe.

Dragged P to Ikea last night (to buy popsicle molds, obviously). Was able to buy another jar for the counter, to fill with a gluten-free flour mix. I am going to label it UNFLOUR. Pretty excited about that.

This is a really cool map:
Thanks to Kristin Cashore for sharing! From Image credit: Ben Blatt/Slate.
Peace out, bean sprouts!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Indexing by Seanan McGuire, plus a bonus!

I love the episodic format of television shows. I love how each episode is a full story arc, but the characters have larger arcs that cross the whole season (or the whole show) and keep you watching. Good for a quick story or for a full day of marathoning. TV can also have some epic, badass, mindblowing arcs. How much more information can you pack into a 13 or 24 episode season, as opposed to a two or three hour movie? Well, a lot. This is the reason I fall harder for the characters in TV shows than movies (assuming there was no book for me to fall in love with first).

This is the basis for the Kindle Serials program. Ten episode "seasons," each a short story-like chapter, delivered every two weeks to your device. For just a few dollars. The one downside to this is that I don't own a Kindle, and read this on my phone. Convenient, but a bit annoying. Indexing is only available through Amazon, because it's part of this program. But don't fret if you missed out on the serial part of it! Now that it's finished, you can buy the whole thing. (And it looks like they've put it out in a paperback edition, too! That's great!)

“Never underestimate the power of a good story.”
Good advice…especially when a story can kill you.
     For most people, the story of their lives is just that: the accumulation of time, encounters, and actions into a cohesive whole. But for an unfortunate few, that day-to-day existence is affected—perhaps infected is a better word—by memetic incursion: where fairy tale narratives become reality, often with disastrous results.
     That's where the ATI Management Bureau steps in, an organization tasked with protecting the world from fairy tales, even while most of their agents are struggling to keep their own fantastic archetypes from taking over their lives. When you're dealing with storybook narratives in the real world, it doesn't matter if you're Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or the Wicked Queen: no one gets a happily ever after.

Normally, I don't think this would be my thing. I'm not much a fan of short stories. At all. I kind of hate them, actually. But Seanan McGuire makes me re-evaluate my priorities, because she is awesome. In Indexing, fairy tales and princesses meets CSI, with a little bit of The Office thrown in, and it is all awesome. It is awesome the way Kingdom Hearts was awesome, when it mixed Disney and Final Fantasy characters. You have your classic gang of people, all with different personalities and backstories, all trying to be a productive team without killing each other.

Henry and Sloane are badass. The men, while great, are not as badass as the women (they are also not front and center), and that was also awesome. Each chapter had it's own story, and as you progressed through the episodes and got to know the players better, they became more and more character-centric, until the season-long arc concluded at the end (with a bang!). Like every good TV show should. This is really a great format, and I would love for it to become more widespread and to get more attention and more big-name authors.

I really want season two. Pleeeeease write a season two. But so far, nothing has been announced. Sad Gina. Read it! It's only two dollars!

Since I haven't been the most timely blogger lately, have some riddles! I love riddles. The first one is a traditional riddle, and one of my favorites. If anyone knows of a great source for more of those, I'd love to hear about it. For the strings of letters following the riddle, the challenge is to figure out the next letter in the sequence. The first is pretty easy, but not all the strings follow the same pattern! You need to think differently. (The fourth is a tricky one... we found two answers!) Thanks go to whatever Stanford professor gave the riddle to P's cousin, and to Reese for the letter strings. AND NO GOOGLE. SERIOUSLY. ELF ON THE SHELF IS WATCHING YOU.

A scream in a storm, 
weightless yet anchored, 
a habitat for the living, 
a coffin for the dead, 
and perfection of the land and sea, 
a ruin for evolution.

S  M  T  W  T  F  _____
D  D  P  V C  C  D  _____
O  T  T  F  _____
A  D  G  J  _____
Z  X  C  V  _____