Summer 2010

PSA: LJ security problem yesterday/this morning

Some of you have probably seen this fifteen times already this morning, but I'm posting anyway for the benefit of those who haven't seen it yet at all.

There was an LJ security breach. This post has the clearest and fullest explanation I've seen of how to tell if you were affected and what to do if you were.

I wasn't affected, but at least one person on my reading list was.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID. The entry has comment count unavailable comments so far.

Edited because "read this if you use LJ" works much better as a title on a Dreamwidth entry than on an LJ entry. :-)
Madison hooping pool

A plea for health care

Today, tucked in among the stuff of a reasonably busy work day, I filled out a contact form on Senator Klobuchar's website, emailed Senator Franken, filled out a contact form on, and called Representative Ellison's office, all to say I'm in support of health care reform. Because it's important to me and didn't take very long (and because cakmpls nudged me at a good time).

These days I have pretty good insurance, but not everyone does. I have very personal experience with that, too:

In 2001 I was uninsured, going to school full time and working multiple part-time jobs (I think it was two jobs right then, maybe three), and struggling to pay the medical bills I had incurred from two emergency room visits for extreme abdominal pain. (I had also recently been fired from one of my part-time jobs for calling in sick too often with what I didn't yet know were gall bladder attacks.) That summer another doctor diagnosed the trouble as a misbehaving gall bladder and recommended having it removed. There is no way I'd have been able to have that surgery and be the relatively pain-free person I am today if I hadn't known my friend Mike, who worked for the county and told me about a state program that provided certain types of medical assistance to those who could meet the eligibility requirements. I did meet the requirements (though the process of proving I met the requirements was somewhat nerve-wracking: my student financial aid would have put me over the income limit, but my tuition was counted against that and brought me back under the limit). Because the state was paying, the surgery had to be performed at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, two and a half hours away by car. I could have had transportation provided by the state, but I was too nervous to ask for it, so my then-mother-in-law drove me to the hospital and my then-husband picked me up the next day after the surgery, even though we were separated and on the verge of divorce by that time.

And yes, for me things worked out acceptably in the long run: I did get the surgery I needed (though I was still paying off those previous medical bills for some time afterward). But not everybody lives in a state with a program like that, not everybody hears about it if they do (I only heard about Iowa's program because Mike knew), and the program that helped me with the surgery had limitations on what kinds of help were available.

Our health care system needs reform to provide affordable care for all. If you agree with me, will you please contact your senators and representatives too?

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Summer 2010

Fringe show: Drinking Stories

I saw a Fringe Festival show tonight! And because it was an excellent show, I'm telling all of you about it.

Drinking Stories by Jen Zalar
$12 + button
as a part of the MN Fringe Festival
Sat., Aug. 1 @ 5:30 p.m.
Sun., Aug. 2 @ 8:30 p.m.
Mon., Aug. 3 @ 10:00 p.m.
Thu., Aug. 6 @ 8:30 p.m.
Fri., Aug. 7 @ 4:00 p.m.
All performances at the Bryant-Lake Bowl

In a culture where so much emphasis is placed on individual achievement, it's easy to feel alone. It can be difficult to feel connected when most of our social time is spent in emails and on telephones. We hardly ever see each other face to face unless it's a quick bite to eat before moving on to the next immediate thing we need to accomplish for ourselves.

In the show Drinking Stories, comedienne Jen Zalar combines stories, jokes, poetry, sketch, improv, magic, song, and dance in a one woman variety show to explore and create a sense of community. From angsty poetry about love, to embarrassing tales of college woe and bravado, to amazing physical feats accomplished, this event of humor and heart will leave you feeling connected. NOTE: audience participation requested.

More info and tickets can be found here:

This is mamajenzie's very own show, and it was a lot of fun. I think I liked it even better because I already know her, but the reactions of the people around me attest that you don't have to know her to enjoy her show! (Speaking of people, I went with coworker R, we sat with fiddle_dragon and [info - personal] songwind, and I also saw Ken from court dancing, and Allison whose lovely dress I always admire at Fest.)

If you go, I recommend getting a drink at the bar before you go in (water is fine, it doesn't have to be alcoholic--but there will be toasts, and it's easier to toast with a glass of something in your hand). I tried a Fat Tire beer because I'd been hearing the name and was curious about it. It was tasty enough, and the flavor reminded me of something but I couldn't figure out what. I think it tastes like the beer I put in chili, because I'm burping chili-flavored burps now. :-)

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Summer 2010

About that 4th Street (con report in general)

I had put this note at the end, but it's a long post and I think the note stands better at the beginning: One thing being surrounded by writery types all weekend did was make me think about my intended audience for this post. And I decided it's me, several years from now when I can't remember what this weekend was like--hence the amount of detail here. If other people enjoy reading it, I'm happy about that too! (Also, I hope to post soon about the experience of being on panels for the first time and what it showed me about myself. I'd thought I would do that this afternoon after I finished this post, but this one took longer than I expected.)

I've promised myself that once I finish writing this I can re-read what I wrote about last year's 4th Street, but not until then. So, since I have some time and feel well-rested enough to be able to string multiple sentences together, here's a pale shadow of what 4th Street was like for me:

It started Thursday night, when there was a play-reading and pre-con work party, only the work had already been done so it was just the play-reading. Close to 50 people showed up at the convention hotel, most armed with the same version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. (Did you know it's possible to print out the whole play, legibly, on only nine sheets of paper?) skylarker gave me a ride there and back, which I appreciated. papersky had come up with a plan for how to distribute roles to any number of people between twenty-some and fifty-some, splitting large roles and combining small ones to make the number of parts come out right. I played Demetrios for the first three acts, and enjoyed it. It occurred to me afterward that it was the sort of thing I would often, in the past, have skipped and then would have felt I'd missed out on, and it was nice to notice that that didn't need to be the case.

Friday morning I worked, but I left promptly at noon to rush home, pack, and bike to the hotel. Collapse ) My planned 8.3 mile ride had turned into 12.8 miles, and I missed Opening Ceremony, but I was there in time to check in to the hotel, take a quick shower, and make it to the first panel! And all told it was a pretty ride, and my legs were up to it--I just would have allowed more time for it if I'd known.

And I was glad, because I was particularly interested in attending that panel: "How to Sound Smart on Panels." (Steven Brust moderating, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Debbie Notkin, Jon Singer, Elise Matthesen.) I took lots of notes at this panel, because I was going to be on two panels myself for the first time ever and wanted tips! Collapse )

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Then I got to be on my first panel ever! "Fantasy and the Family," moderated by Beth Meacham, with Kelly Barnhill, Marissa Lingen, Debbie Notkin, and Kit Gordon. And me! From the program: "Talk about families as represented and misrepresented in fantasy. And just what do we mean by family, anyway?" So we talked about different types of families, and why so many authors choose to have their characters be orphans, and what are some fictional families that have some verisimilitude. And I learned that it's worthwhile to take notes even when I'm on the panel in question, because Kelly said something I wanted to talk with her about afterward, only afterward I couldn't remember what it had been.

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Monday after the convention there's a tradition of going for a sushi lunch at Sakura in St. Paul. I didn't know about it last year in time, but this year I did, and had taken the day off partly to sleep in and partly to be free for sushi. carbonel gave me, Jo, and Eric a ride there. I had a roll named after a hockey player (at least I assume Adam Hall is a hockey player?) and it was delicious! And the conversations were good, it was a little like what I'd been wanting out of the consuite. Then there was a mass migration to the Pumphouse Creamery, which has Bailey's-flavored ice cream. :-)

All told I'm very glad I went again this year. I got to talk to lots of people I like, and while there were others I would have been happy to get a chance to spend time with, I'm inclined to think it's a good thing that there were even more people there that I'd have wanted to talk to than that there was time for. Among the people I was happy to talk to for at least a little bit were seabream, txanne, kitryan, pameladean, arkuat, mmerriam, careswen, cloudscudding, mrissa, skylarker... (the problem with listing names is that one is nearly certain to omit a name and possibly make someone sad. If I forgot to mention your name, I apologize! I'm quite likely happy to have talked to you too!) And people I hadn't met before but very much enjoyed included papersky, jonsinger, and porphyrin. And then there were the people like suzanne, brooksmoses and braddr whom I just didn't get much time with, but I was happy to see joeboo_k while I was awake enough to know who I was talking to (unlike last year).

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Summer 2010

More books read

As usual, I'm putting these behind a cut for now and I'll remove the cut later once it's off your friends page (i.e. when I make the next book post). But this time I'm leaving out the usual commentary on each book in favor of brief notes on just a few of them, because OMG it's been a long time since my last book post and if I try to do commentary on each one I'll never post books again.

38. Westmark, by Lloyd Alexander. Re-read.

39. Half a Crown, by Jo Walton. New.

40. The Sharing Knife: Passage, by Lois McMaster Bujold. New.

41. Rediscovery, by Mercedes Lackey in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover universe. New.

42. The Heritage of Hastur, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. New.

43. Singer of Souls, by Adam Stemple. New and I will never read it again, ugh.

44. A Brother's Price, by Wen Spencer. Re-read.

45. The Planet Savers, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. New.

46. The Sharing Knife: Passage, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

47. Curse of Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

48. The Gate to Women's Country, by Sheri Tepper. New.

49. The Gate to Women's Country, by Sheri Tepper. Re-read (I was still digesting it and didn't want to read anything else while I was still digesting this one).

50. The Sharing Knife: Horizon, by Lois McMaster Bujold. New.

51. The Sharing Knife: Horizon, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read (skipped the malices the second time). In this series I like the odd-numbered books better than the even-numbered ones. I think it might be because in the odd-numbered books she proposes neat ideas and in the even-numbered ones they quietly work on implementing those ideas? Not sure.

52. Komarr, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

53. A Civil Campaign, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

54. Winterfair Gifts, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read. Almost didn't include it here as it's a story/novella, not a full novel, but it is part of the series.

55. Diplomatic Immunity, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

56. Shards of Honor, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

57. Barrayar, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

58. The King's Peace, by Jo Walton. New.

59. The Warrior's Apprentice, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

60. The Vor Game, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

61. Cetaganda, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

62. Ethan of Athos, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

63. Borders of Infinity, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

64. Brothers in Arms, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

65. Mirror Dance, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

66. The Prize in the Game, by Jo Walton. New.

66.5 re-read ch 12 to the end of The King's Peace, by Jo Walton. (Because The Prize in the Game takes place around ch 12 of The King's Peace, and I wanted to see how having more background on the TPitG characters would affect how I see them in TKP.)

67. A Necklace of Raindrops, by Joan Aiken. Re-read.

68. All the Windwracked Stars, by Elizabeth Bear. New. I could tell that I wasn't the target audience. That said, it was still enjoyable enough, just not as much to my tastes as her Jenny Casey books.

69. The King's Name, by Jo Walton. New. I really liked this series! I read them from the library but have since gone out and bought my own copies.

70. Half Past Eight O' Clock, by Joan Aiken. New. Not as much to my taste as some of her stories, but still pleasant enough.

71. Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler. New. I'm still not quite sure how I feel about this one.

72. Memory, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read.

73. Life on the Border, anthology edited by Terri Windling. New.

74. Webmage, by Kelly McCullough. New. Lent to me by a friend who is friends with the author, which lends a difference to a book. I had a couple of small logical Collapse ) but overall enjoyed the book a lot. Among other things, the main character is a double-majoring in Classical Studies and Computer Science, just as I did once upon a time (at another school, in another time).

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Summer 2010

(no subject)

I'm trying to find a picture of a particular actress. This is made far more difficult by the fact that I don't know which one. She's white, at least occasionally blonde, and has appeared in major pictures within the last ten years or so. I was thinking it might have been Angelina Jolie, but after looking at her pictures on IMDB I don't think so anymore.

Would you please suggest names of some actresses that might fit these criteria? Any help will be appreciated!

(Why I'm searching: I recently read Jo Walton's (papersky's) The King's Peace, The Prize in the Game, and The King's Name. When one of the characters in Prize was introduced, I immediately got a mental image of a particular actress, and ever since that character has had that face for me. That's really unusual for me, and I want to know who it is! By the way, I really liked those books.)

Edit: I think my mental image may be a blend of mostly Angelina Jolie (as here) with some Uma Thurman (as here and here). But with real eyebrows. Thank you all for helping!

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Summer 2010

(no subject)

I'm going to try having all comments at Dreamwidth. If nobody talks to me anymore, I may shift back to having them both places, but I'll give this a shot and hope you'll still comment when you have a comment to give.

So, in the interests of making it easy for you to talk to me, here's how a LiveJournal user can comment on a Dreamwidth entry using OpenID.

You already have an OpenID by virtue of having a LiveJournal account. To use it,
1. Click the link at the bottom of the LiveJournal post to go to the Dreamwidth post.
2. Looks a lot like LJ, doesn't it? Click to leave a comment.
3. In the "From" area, choose OpenID.
4. In the "Identity URL" field, put For example, if I were doing this I'd put .
4a. That "login?" box can be checked or not, it doesn't affect your ability to leave a comment. It's asking if you want to log in to Dreamwidth with your OpenID.
5. After you type in your comment, click Post and it will take you to LiveJournal to check that you're really that LJ user. If you're already logged in to LJ, you'll just have to click yes or no; if you're not logged in to LJ yet, you'll get a login screen and then you get to click yes or no.

If that doesn't make sense or you're running into difficulties but do want to comment, you can send me a private message through LJ and I'll try to help.

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Bike fun

Borrowing your eyes

Lo these many years ago when I worked at a small bookstore in central Iowa, we carried blank books made partially from recycled bicycles. The binding was often used bicycle cable, they were held shut by bands of rubber from old inner tubes, etc. They struck me as a neat thing, but I had no use for a blank book and never bought one. Now I'm thinking I'd like to get one, but I can't find them online (my searches bring up bike repair manuals for the most part). Have you ever seen such a thing for sale? Where?

ETA: [info]adalger found some! Thanks, [info]adalger!
Summer 2010

Getting a start on the good things I want to post about

Last Thursday, April 30th, was Dining Out for Life, when various local restaurants each donate a percentage of their day's profits to a group that helps people living with AIDS. I emailed a few of my friends asking who wanted to go, but most didn't reply. Mom did, though, and I enjoy her company (or I wouldn't have invited her in the first place), so she and I went to the Birchwood Cafe for supper and had an absolutely delicious meal! The Birchwood Cafe is one of those places with a fairly simple menu but takes care to use good ingredients, so it all comes out delicious. I had an avocado BLT, which I decided was really a BLT-MAO (either bacon lettuce tomato mayonnaise avocado onion, or bacon lettuce tomato my ass off, as you like--it was just that good), and strawberry shortcake for dessert. I've already forgotten what Mom had, but it was just as tasty, she said. I think I want to go back there for my birthday later this month.

Friday morning I met up with many other morris dancers and others, and danced the sun up! I want to do a slightly longer post about that, with pictures. For now I'll just say it was glorious, not least because of the people I got to see whom I see but rarely--among the non-dancers, [info]jenett, [info]theferret, rillaspins (albeit briefly), and Rhea and Brianna whose user names I know but can't remember and am too tired to look up. And Mom came too! I'm glad she agreed to come; I thought she'd enjoy it, and she did! I only danced one dance, the Abram Circle Dance which is the one we do as the sun rises each year on May Day. Then I stood around, chatted, watched others dancing, took pictures, and sang the songs we only sing on May Day.

Saturday was the car stuff mentioned in a previous post, but it was also the day I installed my new bike saddle and took it for a test ride. I'm in love! It's a Selle Respiro Moderate, MUCH more comfortable than the (men's) seat that came with the bike. And even better, it's got snazzy features like a seatcover that's supposed to pick up less heat from sunlight (says it stays up to 25° Celsius cooler than a normal bike seat) and a vent that blows air on my crotch while I'm riding. I can't say I've been able to feel the air through my jeans, but it's still kinda fun to know it's there. And I haven't once gotten numb since I started using this saddle! I biked around 9.5 miles on my test ride that day, up and down along the Mississippi River.

Sunday I spent the afternoon with [info]belmikey after not having seen him in far too long, then we picked up malefica_v and I gave them both supper. Then [info]belmikey went his merry way and malefica_v and I went to the Leonard Cohen concert! I'm really, really glad I got to see him in concert. He's still going strong, and sang almost all of my favorite of his songs, and displayed his sense of humor from time to time (remember he's the one who wrote the line "you told me you preferred handsome men--but for me you would make an exception"). All told it was an excellent day spent in good company.

Oh, and Sunday afternoon one of my neighbors was having a native plant sale, only he wasn't charging his neighbors anything. So I now have three strawberry plants, two ferns, and a mullein plant. I hope they live!

Tuesday I had much faster average speeds on my way to and from work--usually my average is about 10mph on my commute, but Monday it was close to 12mph each way. Wow! I'm getting faster. :-) I think it's partly me getting stronger, partly having the seat at a good height for efficient pedalling, and perhaps partly having a better seat. (Side note: my pants that I was starting to outgrow are fitting well again. This is nice: it makes laundry easier because I'm not having to all the time wash the one pair that fit, and also my pants are just much more comfortable this way.) Also Tuesday I went running again at lunch--it went well, I got tired but it felt like the right kind of tired--and got two showers after my run, one deliberate one at the gym and one supplied by Nature on my way back to my office. :-)

Monday and today were mostly unremarkable, but I will note that I had a very good salad at lunch today. I bought lunch for a change (I had already eaten up my leftovers from Sunday and hadn't cooked anything new) and got a salad, which is odd for me. I know some people start wanting salads in the spring, but I usually don't, and *especially* not pre-made salads like this one was. But for some reason that's what I wanted, and it did turn out to be really tasty. It had mixed greens, not your plain old iceberg, and barley (who has barley on hand???) and grape tomatoes and a big chunk of salmon, with pesto caesar dressing. Yum.

Tonight after work I biked over to the bike shop to pick up my free water bottle (free for participating in the do.cycle program and completing my first 50 miles of biking after joining the program). At the same time I bought a water bottle cage for it, of course, and also bought a tool with various sizes of allen wrenches that are used on bikes. I'd discovered when changing bike seats that my allen wrenches are in inches and I needed a 6mm one! The 7/32" one worked OK, but now I have a proper one. And when I get a little kit put together to carry around on my bike in case of bike emergencies, I can put the tool in the kit. But I must say, the bike shop people are very casual about this whole do.cycle thing. They're supposed to be tracking my mileage from my bike's cyclo-computer odometer when I come in for this stuff, but they've just waved their hands at me each time and said "Nah, I trust you." Well. Works for me, I guess.

By the time I got home tonight, I'd biked about 17.5 miles--not bad! 4.5 miles to work in the morning, and 13 miles from work to the bike shop and home again, with some meandering through unknown neighborhoods on the way because I tried taking a path I hadn't used before.

Now off to bed. I have laundry in the dryer so I'll have clean clothes in the morning. Ahh for having our own washer and dryer!
Bike fun

(no subject)

I am definitely buying a new bike seat ASAP. I biked the whole way in this morning (it was fun and it did great things for my mood*) and important parts of me have been numb ever since. My bike shop is out of the saddle that would have been my first choice (and it looks like the other local bike shops are too), but they have another (cheaper!) one that I think will work fine. I'll go pick that up tonight. I'm happy I can afford it right now!

* I woke up from a dream in which I was really angry. The anger stayed with me after I woke, despite the fact that I knew it wasn't caused by anything in my waking life; seems like good proof that emotions are chemical, if I needed proof. I biked the whole way this morning instead of part way specifically because I hoped it would help clear out the remaining anger, and it did.