Working Around Microphones

Sep. 23rd, 2017 01:36 pm
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Recently I came across a couple of discussions about technology, public speaking, and accessibility. One of them is in [community profile] access_fandom and links to the other which is a Unitarian-Universalist post. The crux of the matter is that people with hearing impairment often need amplification in order to hear, but not everyone is willing or able to use a microphone. And those groups don't always know about each other's concerns, which causes friction.

Read more... )

One-Card Draw

Sep. 23rd, 2017 01:01 pm
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 [personal profile] wyld_dandelyon is doing a one-card draw.  Tipping gets you an extra card, or you can buy a 5-card reading.

Crowdfunding Creative Jam

Sep. 23rd, 2017 01:07 am
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The [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam is now open with a theme of "black swans."


What I Have Written


From My Prompts 

[personal profile] alatefeline  has written the poem "I Don't See Black Swans" about compensation and decompensation.
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[personal profile] austin_dern

It is always dangerous to try going to two amusement parks in a day. It's too easy to shortchange one for the other. We'd made that mistake during the New England Parks Tour a couple years ago, but we didn't know what else to do. We had gotten away with it earlier on our Fifth Anniversary Trip; the hours of Bowcraft and Keansburg meshed well. Saturday, we were planning to try this stunt again. It would get even weirder than that.

Driving south, the hour or so to Atlantic City, we passed signs warning that the state parks were all closed. I had somehow picked up enough local news to know this was likely coming; [profile] bunny_hugger hadn't. It was part of the budget standoff between the Legislature and Chris Christie. If you can remember as far back as July you might remember the late night talk shows mocking Chris Christie for lounging on a beach closed to the public, part of the disgraced governor's efforts to establish himself as so toxic and petty and universally hated he could become a Republican health care plan. The shutdown would not hurt us directly, except that it did foreclose some Sunday options. New Jersey has a healthy number of lighthouses, but I'm not sure any are in Federally-owned parklands so they couldn't be added to [profile] bunny_hugger's lighthouse count this trip. But we had forgotten to bring her lighthouse passport book. So while we could claim credit for seeing lighthouses we would have had to get stamps on loose sheets of paper and bind them into her passport. Doable, but not ideal. We must, next trip, make sure not to repeat the oversight.

We came up to Story Book Land, established 1955, and were immediately delighted. It was, like Bowcraft, a park that looked like it was just dropped off in a strip mall, although this in a much less densely populated part of the state. (Indeed, across the street from the parking lot is an Office Concepts store and a tattoo parlor.) It started out as one of the kid's fairy-tale-lands, the way many parks in the 50s did. We've been to its spiritual counterparts at Idlewild in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, and to Story Land in Glen, New Hampshire. This one is unlike Idlewild and Story Land in that it's still owned by the originating family. And, apparently, doing pretty well for itself. It's a small park, and one only open to 5 pm the early-summer Saturday we were visiting, which is what made attempting two parks seem like a plausible idea. We also figured the place would be swarmed with packs of kids running out ahead of an exhausted parent shouting at Brandon to get back here. But we trusted we could handle that.

Its entrance is a white castle, flanked by nutcracker guards. Also temporary red traffic barriers so people walking in from the parking lot have something like safety from cars driving in off the street. The entrance is a narrow hallway by the cashier's booth, with a gate featuring some of the birds and mice from Cinderella on signs that warn to only push the gate open when the music plays. The music is ``Hail to the Chief''. We don't know what exactly the link is between Story Book Land and Disney, but they've got a bunch of Disney Depictions of characters in the park. There must be some arrangement there or else an extremely bad day once someone at Disney Master Command hears about the place.

Just past the entrance is a large circular flower 'fountain', and a signboard with a clown welcoming you to Story Book Land. To the left is a 30-foot state of Mother Goose, goose beside her, and a couple of fake books to sit on for photographs. Apparently the Mother Goose had (has?) a loudspeaker and a camera inside, for a staffer to look out on and talk to nearby kids. To the left of that is a three-layer birthday-cake-shaped pavilion, which would make [profile] bunny_hugger long to have her own birthday party at an amusement park. The cake had a sign commemorating the park's 62 years of operation. The cake used to be only a single layer; the kids of the park's owners had it expanded on their parents' anniversary. Across the path from Mother Goose is the main snack bar, the Gingerbread House, which has a couple of figures from the A & W restaurant chain on the roof for some reason. Also, off to the side of Mother Goose, they have a Big Boy state, checkered overalls and everything. This goes unexplained.

So after about ten minutes at the park we were having a great day.

Trivia: The British Military Government allowed the formation of political parties in its zone of Germany on the 15th of September, 1945, about a month after the United States allowed district-level parties in its zone, and three months before the French military government did. Source: Germany 195: From War To Peace, Richard Bessel.

Currently Reading: The Global Transformation of Time, 1870 - 1950, Vanessa Ogle.


PS: Halloweekends Friday some more!

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Performers for some of the haunted houses and walkthrough attractions rallied around symbols of the various venues.


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The Kiddie Carousel, sparkling as a jewel in the night.


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Glimpse of the Millenium Force roller coaster past the exit of the loading station. You can also see, through the door, the illuminated tower of the roller coaster's lift hill.


PPS: The Summer 2017 Mathematics A To Z: X, perhaps the last possible 'X' glossary term.

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[personal profile] xyzzysqrl
I believe the ancient words of invocation are: "Forgive me, I'm back on my bullshit again."

Okay so... There's a handful of reasons why I'm playing Elder Scrolls Online instead of hopping straight to another single player game. In the interests of appeasing that voice in the back of my mind that's been going "You should actually do things that mean progress instead of playing an MMO!", I've decided to lay them out.

To start with, I own the thing. A while back I picked up the "Gold" collection for $20, which included the base game and four of the DLC extra areas, relating to the Thieves' Guild, Dark Brotherhood, Orsinium (Orc-yland) and Imperial City (which is a PVP-y zone I think).

It's a good thing I did, because my current character, the Argonian/lizardlady "Mottlescale" is going heavy on the thieving and is hanging around the orcish homeland doing their quests to help them rebuild their ancestral city and get a new king on the throne. ... Well, really I've mosly been romping all over their part of the continent and doing whatever catches my eye.

A couple of years back that wouldn't have been possible. ESO is in a really good place right now as far as solo content goes, because the list of solo content right now includes everything except certain group-forced dungeons/raids/PVP, and the level range you can do these things at is "Whatever, just show up". A bit ago they rolled out the "One Tamriel" update that basically means you can fuck off into the wilderness and do whatever you want instead of riding the zone-by-zone quest express.

This is both great and kind of nerve-wracking to me, because I usually rely on the zone-by-zone express to know that I'm doing the right things at the right time and not missing anything. It feels very odd to admit that I've been craving feedback to know that I'm not messing everything up with my character and gear and whatnot. It's also been nice because I can hyperfocus on this one zone and doing everything in it, and the game's just like "Okay, all of it scales to you, have fun."

There ARE exceptions. I wandered into something called a "Public Dungeon" once and got pasted by a solid wall of enemies (maybe if I were AoE-built I could've handled that?) and I learned swiftly that the skull-and-crossbones map marker means "World Boss, tuned for like three dozen people, do not go say hello".

For the most part, though... exploring around lazily at my own pace has been pretty great, and it doesn't require any other people involved. It feels less like an MMO and more like a multiplayer Elder Scrolls game, and I guess if I wanted to hop into a dungeon I could... but I still don't understand my character's build so why would I? I'm doing all right by myself, and I kind of want to make a catperson alt to try out being a Sorcerer. Oh, and I need the cat to make furniture for the house I'm gonna get in Morrowind.

Because I'm gonna buy the Morrowind expansion.

Because I am firmly back on this bullshit again.

Forgive me.

I am the one hiding under your stairs

Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:10 am
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[personal profile] austin_dern

Making my humor blog's big weekly pieces be a bunch of how-to articles this month has strangely relieved me of my deepest problem: thinking of what to write. Have you seen what I've written recently? Try this if you haven't.

Let's get back to Cedar Point Halloweekends. That's a fun time and place to be.

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Mean Streak, several weeks after its closure, and partly torn up for its renovation. The roller coaster train underneath is from Maverick.


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Old West-themed building near Maverick, which itself is at the end of the Frontier Trail. The 'White Water Coal Co' suggests to me the White Water Landing log flume ride, itself taken out a decade-plus ago to make room for Maverick. There's several bits of park decoration that have increasingly faded White Water Landing logos or references but since they're all in the Old West part of the park that just makes them fit the theme better.


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Entrance to the Frontier Trail at night on Halloweekends. For the Halloween season the trail is dressed up to this steampunk walk-through attraction and making the trees look like that is part of the show.


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Entrance gate of the Steampunk thingy on the Frontier Trail at Halloweekends. It hasn't got started quite yet, which you can tell because there's not lasers shooting out of the eyes.


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Brass-plated (well, painted) swan on the Frontier Trail as part of the cyberpunk thing. The swan had been part of the Swan Boats ride; others of the swans were sent to Michigan's Adventure. This one went into seasonal performances instead.


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Rally of the haunted-house/haunted-walkthrough-area performers at the Luminosity stage. This was new this year, with all the performers gathering for a good send-off just before the witching hour of 8 pm.


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One of the performers on the Luminosity stage, set up outside the Iron Dragon roller coaster, in a show that we were a little too far away to hear quite clearly what was going on.


Trivia: In the early 1940s Orlando Scott offered lie-detector screenings of potential employees to high-volume clients at $15 per interviewee. He pledged to test for ``integrity, intentions, loyalty, competency, intuitiveness, stability, alertness, efficiency, ambition, vocational stability, sabotage, etc''. Source: The Lie Detectors: The History of an American Obsession, Ken Alder.

Currently Reading: The Global Transformation of Time, 1870 - 1950, Vanessa Ogle.

Global Warming

Sep. 21st, 2017 03:47 am
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
 ... is not new, is more solid than ever, but people still aren't listening.
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[personal profile] austin_dern

There's a lot of parking lots in Seaside Heights. Just, you know, a plot of land such as you might put a house on, only it's gravel or dirt and there's a guy out front offering to let you leave the car there until 2 am for five or ten or twenty bucks, depending on how busy it was. We saw one, a block north and west of the Casino Pier main building. He was standing in front of a metal music stand and playing the saxophone in-between (rare) customer visits. No bucket for tips or anything, and he wasn't playing any particular song. Just practicing his music while overseeing a Jersey Shore parking lot.

This lovely vignette is something we watched from the miniature golf course. Not the one atop the buildings on Casino Pier. We were tempted by that, but went instead to play the new miniature golf course that's adjacent to the water park, opposite the shore from the Casino. It's got a Privateer theme, much like the miniature golf course [profile] bunny_hugger and I went to with my father back in January. This one had some of the things you'd expect, props of buried treasure and all that. It also put up a bunch of signs about the pirate-or-privateers and their action around Toms River during the Revolutionary War. The pirate-or-privateer action along the Jersey Shore doesn't get a lot of attention, even in New Jersey histories because, you know, we've got the Battles of Trenton and Princeton and Monmouth Junction and the horrible winters at Morristown to talk about. But they were present and vicious in the sort of thing that horrified people about pre-20th-century warfare. So it was fun and I guess educational, if you pretend the signs knew the difference between it's and its.

We went back around the pier, and the Casino, and looking over merchandise and toys and looking for amusing sidelines. I spotted at an employee's door the printout of the benefits Casino Pier employees could claim, such as discount tickets to Great Adventure or to Legoland. We also stopped in another candy shop, not Berkeley's, where there was a bounty of old-time candies like liquorice pipes and Necco wafers and all. I forget if we picked up something to eat there.

We did return to Berkeley Candy, as promised, and brought that back to the car where we found we were no longer alone in the parking lot. There was one other car, parked next to ours, in the enormity of the municipal parking lot.

Candy safely stowed in the back we went back to the pier, admiring the beauty of the pier at night finally. And we bought a night ride on Hydrus, even more gorgeous in color-shifting light against the night sky, as well as the carousel again. Just magnificent.

After a lot of pondering we figured what we wanted for dinner: pizza on the shore. One of the pizza places had ricotta cheese pizza. I don't think I've had that before, because if I did, I would never have been able to eat anything else. I'm still licking my lips hoping to get a few molecules of that back again. Just magnificent.

We saw out the close of the pier, with all the lights turning off and the rides shutting down, and even the boardwalk games shuttered themselves. The day was over, and we said our goodbyes to Seaside Heights, to go back to our temporary Toms River home.

In the municipal parking lot there were two other cars.

Trivia: By the end of 1866 Dr S S Law's Gold Indicator Company had fifty subscribers to telegraphic reports of market prices in the New York Gold Exchange. Source: The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's Oline Pioneers, Tom Standage. (Standage doesn't say when the Company started, but from context it was apparently after the Civil War concluded.)


Currently Reading: The Global Transformation of Time, 1870 - 1950, Vanessa Ogle.

PS: What's looking good at Cedar Point?

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Evening light making Raptor (the green roller coaster) and the Casino in the distance look really, really good. Taken from the ValRavn queue.


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More of Raptor and the Casino looking so very good in the evening, autumn light. GateKeeper is the tiny blue pair of arches on the far right, above the horizon line.


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Turkeys who are very busy with their projects in the petting zoo and do not have time for your issues, thank you.


PPS: The Summer 2017 Mathematics A To Z: Well-Ordering Principle, which lets me do about my favorite thing in the world: start with a joke and use it to prove all numbers have prime factorizations. So I guess I understand why everyone treated me like that in middle school.

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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Scientists have discovered a geometric shape at the center of reality, whose form defines the behavior of particles.  It's a lot simpler than trying to calculate by hand the way those things move.  It goes from hundreds of pages of math to one. 

Meanwhile I'm laughing my ass off because, well, om mani padme hum.  Not the sound of the chant, but it's literal meaning: the jewel in the heart of the lotus.  Mystical people have been staring at this thing forever, because A) it's inspiring, B) it's really pretty, and C) when you're out of your body on a lot of other dimensions it tends to be right in front of your face and kind of hard to ignore.  Which is okay because A and B.  :D  Anyhow, quantum mechanics might like to take a look at the prismatic branch of sacred art.  Perhaps it will prove inspiring.  Because quantum physics is where magic and science meet, which is why it's cool.  I may not be able to hack the math, but quantum physics still makes my existential intelligence sit up and go squee.

On the downside, this means people are getting reeeeeaaaalllly close to figuring out graviton technology.  This is about as relaxing as realizing that the toddler has just about figured out how to turn on the blowtorch.  O_O  

Birdfeeding

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:22 pm
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
A few days ago, I filled the birdfeeders.  Today I saw a mourning dove on the fly-through feeder, so at least one bird has discovered the seed.  \o/ 

Hard Things

Sep. 20th, 2017 03:50 am
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Life is full of things which are hard or tedious or otherwise unpleasant that need doing anyhow. They help make the world go 'round, they improve skills, and they boost your sense of self-respect. But doing them still kinda sucks. It's all the more difficult to do those things when nobody appreciates it. Happily, blogging allows us to share our accomplishments and pat each other on the back.

What are some of the hard things you've done recently? What are some hard things you haven't gotten to yet, but need to do?
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[personal profile] austin_dern

So we went for power-riding. First, Hydrus, the new roller coaster. It's good-sized and beautiful and looks like the sort of thing to expect at Dorney Park. Dorney Park was in mind because they have a roller coster named Hydra: The Revenge, a subtitle that seems baffling until you learn that over there, Hydra replaced a roller coaster named Hercules. We were also amused that they went with a less-feminine-sounding name for the Hydra, but, well, Hydrus is a creature from medieval bestiaries, as well as a constellation (which Wikipedia says is the thing being referred to here), so I guess why not? The hydrus of bestiaries was a Nile River creature that's some kind of water snake, although it's also been given the properties of otters, birds, dragons, and mongooses so good luck pinning that down. The ride sign uses a dragon head for its icon.

The ride warned to leave in the lockers stuff like cell phones and cameras, and I fell for that the first time around. Later times I just stuffed my camera in my cargo-pants pocket the next time and that was fine. Not sure what they're afraid of except maybe people taking selfies on the ride. The ride starts with a vertical ascent, riders on their back, going up a good seventy feet before tipping over and dropping straight down. And then there's a bunch of loops and twists and rolls, a short, beautiful, and fast ride. If it's got a flaw --- and I'm not sure it is --- it's that it's difficult to get a good view of the pier from altitude when on it; you're high up and moving slowly for only brief glimpses. It's quite good, and that it was on a pier that still smelled of lots of new wood freshly nailed down only helped the feeling. We'd ride it several times, sometimes among groups of people who didn't seem to quite know how many were in the party and so were slow about getting into the eight-person car.

We also got to the Pirate's Hideaway. It was the only roller coaster we'd ridden on our original, first date that was still there. (Hot Tamales was there, but we hadn't ridden it our first date, and anyway it wasn't running on our anniversary.) It's changed since the storm, in that the roof had been taken off a formerly-indoors ride. It's not made a difference in how the ride moves, of course, although it means the lack of scenery stands out. In the mostly dark you have the extra excitement from, well, not seeing where you're going. In the light, well, I'm not going to protest a roller coaster, even that's a small one.

And then a couple other things on the pier. The Moby Dick, with the seats swinging side to side in that wonderful dizzying way. I didn't appreciate until [profile] bunny_hugger pointed out how regional these seem to be. There had been a Moby Dick at Casino Pier going back to time immemorial, or at least 2008, but I don't know if the current machine they have is the same one they had before the storm.

And the carousel. Of course we went to the carousel. We went first to the pair of mounts we'd ridden that first date, the ones with our middle names on them. I forget if we had the ride to ourselves or not. I do know we were disappointed that the band organ wasn't playing, and we worried that something had broken and not been repaired, or worse, to it. Well, the band organ mechanism was certainly there. Maybe it was just off, albeit for a Friday right before a holiday that seems strange. On the other hand the crowd seemed light to me; maybe we just weren't there on a busy enough day.

We only had two hours on the unlimited-rides wristband, although that did turn out to be enough for all the rides we really wanted to get on. The pendulum-claw and dubiously-tastefully-named ride Super Storm we've been on before and it's not a kind that [profile] bunny_hugger cares for anyway; similarly with the Disk'O. There's a giant Ferris wheel but, again, that's not the sort of thing [profile] bunny_hugger cares for. The reverse bungee? Not likely, although watch this space.

We did rush for the carousel at the time our wristbands were set to expire and were of course caught behind a bizarrely slow group trying to get on without success. This let us in on a secret of the two-hour limit on the wristbands: they actually encoded two hours fifteen minutes, enough margin to avoid anyone complaining about normal disagreements about the hour. We were able to use this to get a last-minute ride on the carousel and an overtime ride on Hydrus.

And eventually even our overtime ended, and we just had to be where we were.

Trivia: George Washington granted Margaret Arnold safe passage from West Point to Philadelphia after her husband Benedict's treason was discovered. Source: The Uncertain Revolution: Washington and the Continental Army at Morristown, John T Cunningham. (The extent of Margaret Arnold's involvement in her husband's treason is unclear.)

Currently Reading: The Global Transformation of Time, 1870 - 1950, Vanessa Ogle.

PS: Roller coasters! And stuff.


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Launch station for Top Thrill Dragster, the tallest and briefest roller coaster at the park. We don't go on it much since the ride is too brief and one-trick for the usual wait. But if the ride is almost a walk-on? Yeah, that's worth it.


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Water tower watch: the new water tower (left) had finished being painted by our Halloweekends visit, and we expected the century-old water tower (right) to be demolished by our next visit. It wasn't.


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Afternoon clouds behind the ValRavn roller coaster, and a heavily renovated part of the midway.


Pears in Progress

Sep. 19th, 2017 10:38 pm
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I got back out to pick up pears, so we cleaned half a bucket of them, and I put the bits in a crockpot to cook into pie filling.  :D
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[personal profile] xyzzysqrl
Remember when I bought a big disc of a buncha Kirby games? I needed something fluffy after Nier Automata, so that came out and I started playing.

Kirby's Dream Land, being a Game Boy game, takes about an hour start to finish. It's pretty good though. There's a lot of personality (Kirby totally derailed my train of thought when I paused and he started doing stretches while the rest of the game was frozen), it's just a fun and gentle game.

I unlocked an "Extra Mode" by beating it but I dunno if I'm gonna do that. I already had a tough time against King Dedede, or King Desmond Difficultyspike Duck as I refer to him.

Mostly it's weird seeing all the pieces of what I know comes together. This enemy uses a beam attack, but you can't copy it yet. That's not gonna happen for a few years. Come back later.

My only problem is that now that I've beaten the game, when I try to access it again from the Dream Collection menu, it's stuck on the ending screen that tells you how to open Extra Mode. Uhm.

...hopefully I'll work that out in the future.

Tuesday Yardening

Sep. 19th, 2017 04:24 pm
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Today is warm, partly cloudy, and muggy.  We went out to the orchard and removed many many field weeds from under the pear tree.  It is a bumper year for pears, they are all over the ground already, with plenty left overhead.  If I have the energy, I'll go back out later and pick up a bucket of them to make pie filling. 
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[personal profile] xyzzysqrl
It is of course a well-known fact that if you establish a residence near an existing cartoon, there's the exciting chance of being allowed to guest-cameo on said 'toon and perhaps eventually get a spinoff show of your own. This is why Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, and Taz-Mania had so many characters: Taz alone had at least a dozen close neighbors in proximity and guests kept cropping up.

I was therefore on a boat, sailing down a string of islands looking for a house to call my own that bordered tight on an existing 'toon. Except Cartoon Network had been through, so all of the good locations had already been taken, used, and canceled. Which was really irritating, because I'd swing the boat towards a nice looking place and oops no wait that's where Sheep in the Big City lives, they're in retirement and nobody's gonna produce a cartoon on top of that anymore.

No particular ending to that dream, it sort of dissolved into a mess of "Hey, remember the Kung Fu Creatures gag from Garfield and Friends?" and ... then I woke up, because leg cramp.

Wonder where all the new cartoons live. Maybe there's a Netflix Apartments I should try to sneak into, next dream.

Leaving Academia

Sep. 19th, 2017 03:16 am
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Here is an essay about a professor leaving academia

I went to U of I.  There were parts of it that I enjoyed, and the culture wasn't that bad.  But I can see parallels.  For me it was more a matter of looking at the way education was going, and deciding not to get involved in public education as a teacher.  It was obviously going down the tubes, and that was decades ago; it's infinitely worse now.  So too, many colleges.  :/  I couldn't stop it.  I could sure get the hell out of the way.

Poem: "So Closely Allied"

Sep. 19th, 2017 02:34 am
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the February 2, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [livejournal.com profile] my_partner_doug, [personal profile] wyld_dandelyon, and [personal profile] chanter_greenie. It also fills the "separation and reunion" square in my 1-23-16 card for the Valentines Bingo fest. This poem has been posted as a birthday present for [personal profile] callibr8. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

Read more... )

Poem: "Learning and Growing"

Sep. 18th, 2017 11:14 pm
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the September 5, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] sweet_sparrow, [personal profile] technoshaman, [personal profile] readera, [personal profile] gingicat, [personal profile] ari_the_dodecahedron, and [personal profile] librarygeek. It also fills the "vampires" square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family.

Read more... )

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