We have a crow fledgling that’s been involved in several adventures where my mom’s gone to protect the little dear.
Crows have a very complex family structure, and our fledgling’s parents are very involved in their baby’s upbringing.
(Repost of something I wrote on LiveJournal in 2010)
A while ago, Jay Lake talked about his privilege in his cancer treatment, and it got me to thinking about my privilege in a number of contexts.
I’m white, and that comes with power in our culture, but it’s not that that makes my own set of privileges interesting, at least I don’t think so.
Without further ado:
My parents, grandparents, and so forth, went to college. My mother has documented family members going to college as far back as the 1400s. My great-grandfather had three doctorates, one of them an M.D. So I never had to struggle with family to get a better education. It was expected.
Not only did my father work in the sciences when I was born, so did my mother. Not only that, my mother appeared in a science textbook in the 1950s, as though that were perfectly normal. More to the point, I was raised thinking this were normal and common, and that is a very odd privilege indeed.
My parents worked at an atom smasher:
Later, my dad worked in aerospace. He worked on one of the Viking Lander projects (his specialty was mass specs, and the GCMS project was affectionately known as the “Green-colored Martian sniffer”). An early project where I worked for him was measuring the helium line of the sun. Later, he won a NASA prize for his work on the TOMS (ozone-mapping mass spec) project.
While I certainly know people who know more decorated scientists than I’ve met personally, especially as an adult, the fact that I’d met any as a child is a form of privilege. (My father taught the Feynman course on physics as a grad student, just as one example, and was asked to write part of the handouts for it.)
When I was a teenager, my father suggested I take a programming class. After I finished it, he asked me if I wanted to do programming — that’s how I got started on my career. He thought, correctly, that I would enjoy it, and his urging me to take classes like that was partly motivated by the fact that he didn’t enjoy programming that much but did have programming work that needed to be done. So it wasn’t just a class, it was the beginning of 35 years of work (so far) in the industry.
It was a long, long time before I met another female software engineer; I’ve never worked on a team that was even majority female. In many cases, I’ve been the only woman with a group of a handful to more than 30 male software engineers.
Even when I wanted to be a musician, both my parents were willing to support that choice if and only if I got adequate education for a plan B. I got lured in by the consistent money in programming and for quite a while resented that I’d gone that way, but later came to peace with it after a summer off busking in Ireland. It met enough of the music goal that I was able to move on with my life. This is not to say that I don’t burn out occasionally — I have.
After my mom remarried, we always had a plane and a boat, and tended to travel places. I got to see a lot of places that other people just don’t. San Clemente Island while it was being shelled in a military exercise, for example.San Miguel Island, where a ton of stuff floating in from Japan landed on the long beach, and its odd caliche forest:
I didn’t realize how odd my upbringing was until I was in college and we were asked to write about our mother’s cooking, and most people wrote about white kitchens and poultry. Here’s an excerpt from my piece:
By far my favorite sea dish was the one I usually got to prepare–abalone. Abalone clings very hard to rocks and has to be pried not only off the rock but out of its shell. Once out, it doesn’t have the decency to just sit there and behave. No, it has to crawl all over. Abalone is inherently tough, so I would pound it with a meat tenderizer as it crawled across the cutting board. I’d stop wailing on it with the metal tenderizer and watch it to see if it had stopped moving, but it would curl up its edges and slide away.
So it’s hard for me to remember that some people have to fight to attend even two-year college, hard for me to remember that some people fight with their family about careers in the sciences and so on. It’s just so normal for me.
Then again, I grew up thinking radioactive hazard signs were normal, too….
So, yeah, I’m the weird kid, but I come by it honestly.
Tanner is a rescue cat gotten when we had an elderly alpha cat and needed a beta. She’s always been skittish and prefers to spend most of her time outdoors.
Every November, she starts coming inside when it’s wet out, but she’s always avoided any of “my” spaces. She generally has 2-3 spots in the house and ignores the others.
One thing I know: cats love mohair (aka “momo”). When we went to Avoca in Ireland last year, we bought a mohair throw for the couch, which she ignored. A few weeks ago, I brought it out to my writing nook and left it on my ottoman. A few days ago, she decided that was a cool place to be.
This morning, when I got up, she was still there.
There’s a fascinating article on Medium about why Cable TV bills are escalating out of bounds. I’d noticed this a couple of years ago when I looked, horrified, at our cable bill and we cut the wire. In 2011, we replaced cable TV with a dual antenna set that ran $400 and has served us well for the staggering amortized cost of $15 a month (and falling).
When the region changed managers, I got a call from Comcast asking why we wouldn’t come back.
It wasn’t the service issues, though those sure didn’t help. It was the realization that most of the money I was paying was going to things I had not only no interest in, but I felt were things I wouldn’t choose to spend my money on. Worse, what I’d rather spend my money on was getting almost no funding at all.
So, I said, “Until you have the Fuck Sports Channels and Fox News Plan, we’re done.” And I meant it. I’d far rather fund a real educational channel. Another Farsi channel. Something else.
Inevitably, non-sports fans will realize that they are getting totally ripped off. My favorite explanation came from a post by sports blogger Patrick Hruby: “ESPN’s business model is getting 60 percent of the country that doesn’t watch ESPN to pay 60 bucks a year to pay for ESPN.”
I don’t really want to go on a tear about funding for sports, how athletes are given passes in ways they shouldn’t be (especially true when sexual assault is part of the problem), nor about how Title IX and sports isn’t really anything liked I’d hoped it would be. It’s not that I dislike sports. I do make a point of going to sporting events. I just have little use for sports television apart from the Olympics. (And if you do, that’s fine.)
The problem, as is outlined in the Medium article, is packaging.
I can’t help but feel that we’re caught up in a variant of Max Barry’s Jennifer Government, where everyone is in competing marketing alliances and the cable companies need to suck up to all of them — to our detriment.
Here’s the bigger tragedy, in my opinion. Used to be that the networks were the studios that made the shows. An ABC show was actually made by ABC. This is no longer true. You’ve no doubt noticed the production company credits (e.g., Bad Robot) after the show if you sit through the credits.
Let’s say you’re a rebel like me and you cancel cable. And AMC has a show you really like — Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead.
Let’s say you can watch it on Hulu. Does that count toward the show’s viewership? Yes, because it has ads. Remember, the network is fundamentally all about selling ads.
Let’s say you buy it on iTunes. Surely that’s good, right? No. Because that money goes to the production company, not the network, it counts as zero viewers when considering a show for renewal. So, even though the production company gets a bigger slice of the pie and you are directly supporting what you love, it doesn’t count when the network decides to renew the show. (I suppose it’s possible that such sales affect the price to the network if the revenue’s significant enough.)
Same with buying DVDs — money goes to the production company, not the network.
Thus, not only is the pricing model broken, there’s incentives for it to stay broken, and it’s not likely to get fixed any time soon.
Until the bundled pricing model breaks (which is starting to happen), our hopes lie in iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, et al.
Graphic is from this article about highest paid public employee in every state.
When I was in college, I took a memoir writing class, and one of the in-class writing exercises we were to do was to write about “our mother’s cooking.” Or, if not our mother, who did the substantive cooking (which turned out to be a non-mother for a couple of people in the class).
There was a sameness to the stories: long, white kitchens, large meals of poultry, rather a blandness of cuisine that my family never shared.
Me? I wrote about the trimaran we built when I was a kid and the smell of the butane stove, the fun when people would go diving and bring back abalone. Then I got into an extended description of cutting abalone into pieces and having it still crawl across the cutting board, even while I was whaling on it with a meat tenderizer.
Abalone’s tough, you know. Really have to pound the everloving crap out of it for it to be tender enough.
Oh, and the island we were at (San Clemente) was being shelled by the military in training exercises at the time. From five miles out. Whoosh, boom!
Naturally, we had to read our little pieces aloud. As I read mine, I pounded the conference room table at the appropriate points.
At the end, everyone was a bit stunned, and the teacher said, “Okay then.”
It was not until that moment that I realized there was anything the least bit unusual about my upbringing. Truly.
The sixth annual Common Ground Edible Landscaping Tour is coming up this Saturday, July 21. (fixed date)
We first went in 2009, photos here.
I was originally scheduled to come to San Diego on Saturday morning so I could go to a work-related event on Friday, but, well, I had an opportunity for yet another medical appointment, so that took precedence and I flew down Thursday morning.
Getting to the bottom of my medical stuff has been something of a nightmare and has been a multi-year process of peeling the onion. In short, the celiac disease seems to have triggered other stuff, and now I think we’re getting to the last and possibly most critical bit.
Many years ago, I was given a diagnosis of fibromyalgia without excluding other diseases, and fibro’s supposed to be a diagnosis of last resort after everything else is ruled out — and nothing was. I do mean nothing.
For several years, treating it as though it were fibro was enough, but for the last few years, it has not been, and it’s been getting worse.
The good news? I think I finally figured it out. I could be wrong, but I’ve done a lot of reading lately, and I don’t think I am.
So, I found a doctor that agrees with me (thus my earlier trip), but isn’t “in plan,” so it’s more of an advisory role, and there are serious concerns about treating the issue (which I knew). On the other hand, it’s possible that I could get full remission in a few days.
I also got some work done, though I was limited by my doctor schedule and travel logistics.
The event I was coming for is, of course, World Fantasy. So last night I had the opportunity to participate in the mass signing, and I met a local writer who also happens to be a co-worker, so I introduced him to the other sf/f writer co-worker I know. I got Neil Gaiman’s autographs for a friend, too.
Today was my first full con day, and I went to the SFWA meeting at (oh my God) 8 a.m., which went well. As I was leaving, I was just out of it enough that I thought to myself, “Oh, I’m moving well now that the drugs kicked in.” Not five seconds later, I didn’t see that there was a step and took a rather nasty tumble, and I’ve been very sore since. A very sweet African-American teen here for another event helped me up and wanted to know if I was okay.
Because of the pain from the fall, I missed a lot of stuff, and spent the con sitting and talking to people for longer periods and not moving around so much (perfectly understandable). It remains to be seen how well I’ll be feeling the next two days, when the soreness from a fall is generally at its worst. Fortunately, I don’t think I hurt anything seriously.
I have a reading at 10 a.m., and I am now thinking everything I’ve written is crap, and I’m feeling the pressure; I’m reading right before someone I’ve always looked up to and it’s intimidating. I am not sure what I’ll read in the morning yet, but I brought seven things to pick from. I’ll probably read two or three.
I spent some of my downtime this trip reading Steve Jobs’s biograpy. I hope to finish it by Halloween, which seems fitting given the focus of the holiday for me (the annual honoring of people who’ve passed on). I’m going to write a longer post about that when I’ve finished the book. I started reading from the time of Steve’s cancer diagnosis forward, finished the book, then started again at the beginning. I think that’s actually an interesting way to read the book.
I’m going home tomorrow to a newly-repaired car. I have two follow-ups in-plan medical-wise on Tuesday, then a backup appointment on Wednesday with a different doctor.
So there you are galumphing lopsided down the hallway in search of ibuprofen as is your usual wont when you notice that your legs feel weird today. They felt a bit odd yesterday, too. In fact, it feels a bit like the odd you felt in June when you suddenly wound up with a bad case of shingles and they shoved prednisone down your throat along with some antivirals.
And, for a few days, everything stopped hurting, though the legs had this oddly pliable feel that was disconcerting, to say the least, given your usual stiffness. You felt it particularly when you went up and down stairs, wondering if your legs would collapse underneath you. They didn’t. When you were near the end of your course and the shingles was on the mend, you started taking walks because, hallelujah, you didn’t hurt.
Then you went to the doctor saying that you think you don’t have fibromyalgia after all — gotta be something related to inflammation, at which point the rheumy consult thought you were bonkers, saying that if you had MS or Crohn’s, you’d know it. Your main doctor gets the point, though: fibro’s not an inflammatory disease. She orders an inflammatory panel and advises you to wait a few weeks to get the blood draw for so your system will return to its normal state after all the drugs she’s just pumped in. Also, you’ve had this strange low-grade fever that comes and goes for a few days at a time, but this problem’s been going on for years.
Last Friday, you had your teeth cleaned, and you apparently have a bad dental abscess from that root canal you had ten years ago, one root of which was never able to be killed off and is apparently flailing in a great pile of painless unhappiness, so the dentist makes endodontist invocations and materializes a scrip for antibiotics. So you haul yourself down to the HMO and wait in their never-ending line so you can pay less for the stupid amoxy, and then you’re about to ask for the blood draw — and you realize, huh, what if this really is the same issue? Better wait until after the antibiotics work and have cleared the system.
Today you feel almost as good, whole-body wise, as you did under the prednisone, though, so that makes you wonder: was it a frakkin’ low-grade dental infection all along? Could this whole ten years have been better if you’d done the dental thing differently?
Worldcon ended Sunday, and we briefly went to the dead dog party and then hit the road.
After we got out of the mountains and passed Sacramento, the check engine light came on, and was flashing. It turns out that we’d had this symptom on the way over immediately after filling the tank with Arco gas, but it seemed to go away after we’d added a different brand of gas. Bad gas was listed in the manual as a possible cause.
Now the light came on tonight immediately after having gotten more Arco gas, but this time we got premium. However, this time, the engine light flashed and we lost power and had to re-start the car and get back off the freeway ramp. Talk about your scary.
So I get out the iPad’s map app, and then look for the nearest dealership (since this involved possibly proprietary diagnostics) and then a towing company. Then, when we’d established where we were going, I was able to book us a room within walking distance from the car dealership for the night.
Sure, I could have used my iPhone, but the device I almost invariably pull out is, in fact, the iPad. It’s easier to show someone else details of the route due to the larger real estate, plus the extra size is nice when your eyes are tired and you want bigger text.
The other day, someone (who didn’t have a smartphone) wondered what use one would be to him. I wonder what the hell he does if things like this come up.
Over the last week, here’s what I’ve used my iPad for: writing a short story, reading email, web surfing, culling and editing photos, ordering a new computer (which we decided to get after leaving for Reno, so had it delivered to my mother’s workplace), keeping up with my RSS feeds with Pulse and Reeder, playing music, watching movies and television episodes, playing games, taking notes, emailing Rick’s boss and mine saying we’re stuck in Vacaville, writing a draft of a future guest blog post (to be announced soon), and brainstorming some ideas for a possible new short story.
The antenna guy came today. We used AV Solutions Pros out of Mountain view. He got it done as quickly as it could be and with great quality. We’re getting some channels I hadn’t expected to, and it all seems very nice. Of course, we’re subject to weather fade, much like satellite is, but he said it’s really worst conditions now due to the leaves on the trees.
Over-the-air cost so far is a wash with buying the HD shows the first year, but of course it’s a gain in years after that.
Now it’s an ongoing saga to figure out content we care about in this new ecosystem, plus I want to make sure to pick up any interesting show premieres somehow — that’s how I discovered FlashForward two years ago.