Saturday, September 20th, 2014 10:20 pm
Probably the most risqué song I've ever sung on stage. Now with dynamic text: tell your friends!

Saturday, September 20th, 2014 03:05 am
Or it would still be Friday, if I hadn't accidentally slept from 6pm-12am.

Connor stayed home from school today with a cold. Since I had a ticket to an 11am symphony concert, Robby stayed home as well. I hadn't realized that my ticketed seat was directly in the middle of the front row. I was sitting practically under the Steinway for a top notch performance of the Rachmaninov Piano Concerto #2. It was marvelous.

Last night Auburn played a Thursday night football game, so Heather & co. came over to watch with us. That was fun. Auburn won, but the offense looked shaky. After that, I finished catching up on Outlander to be ready for tomorrow's new episode.

I have had SCA events on my calendar every weekend this month, but I keep not going, either because Heather has other plans or because Robby has plans to spend his entire Saturday working on a construction project at our church. I think I've only been to one event in the past six months, and that was in a different kingdom. I've probably missed an entire reign by now. Not that anyone cares.

I managed to get my mother's iOS devices updated to version 7 before version 8 came out this week. I'm generally not in a rush to update anything until it becomes necessary, but it was time. Her computer's still on 10.6, but I got the most recent security updates installed for that as well.

I spent most of my free time the past two days retranscribing a three page choral arrangement with Lilypond. I really enjoy using it - it's like LaTeX for music - but it's always a struggle to figure out how to tweak things that need tweaking. The documentation is kind of scattershot, but that's open source for you.

I'm still waiting for autumn to settle in. Apart from one or two cool mornings, it's been disgustingly muggy here for the past several weeks. I don't mind the heat so much as the humidity. I can't knit when my hands are sweating.
Thursday, September 18th, 2014 02:15 pm
I hope Scotland votes Yes today. But remember: William Wallace sold you a lie. Scotland can be just as unfree under Holyrood as it is under Westminster. Freedom isn't increased merely by changing masters, whether those masters live in London or Edinburgh. Good luck, but be wary.
Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 05:44 pm
Guess who got a Netflix account within a few hours of it being available in Germany?

Maybe I need to spend my holiday on the couch instead of in the US :-)
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Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 07:06 am
On the upside, I am now once again up to date on my vaccinations, getting vaccinated for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio yesterday.

On the downside, this was the second night in a row I barely slept. Dann arm was hurting too much.
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Sunday, September 14th, 2014 08:45 pm
(first draft of song)

Oh, I was down in Maidstone,
I called at County Hall,
And in the council chamber there's
A handle on the wall.
They said, "Don't touch that lever!"
I asked them what they meant.
They told me, that's the handle
To raise and lower Kent.

Up, up if we pull!
Down, down if we press!
Our goals are Kent's
Controlled ascents
From here to near Sheerness.

We made the airfields higher
To help the Spitfires land.
And when the Normans landed,
We took away the sand.
We built the Channel Tunnel
By using this control,
And if we like, the Medway
Can vanish down a hole.

We've kept this secret weapon
Of ancient Kentish kings,
Who kept Invicta guarded
By mounting it on springs.
When tourists get too rowdy
Then given half a chance
We'll shake the earth beneath them
And bounce them into France.



Sunday, September 14th, 2014 12:27 am
As most readers of my journal know, I am a transgender woman. As part of the process of transitioning, I've been changing the names of the various accounts I use online.

I encountered a roadblock when I wanted to change my Steam username, but couldn't because of Steam's policy that accounts cannot be renamed. (That situation eventually got resolved when you guys spread the word about what was going on, but at the time it was really frustrating.)

Since then I've been keeping track of whether their policy has changed. That appears not to be the case, sadly - one-and-a-half years ago I asked if anything had changed, and the answer was no. And now, it appears as if Steam is at it again, in exactly the same way as it did three-and-a-half years ago with my original request.

A new friend of mine, Katy ([twitter.com profile] kateunafraid) is trying to get Steam support to change her username.

Here's how her ticket started (ticket 4642-QTSL-8416, reproduced with permission) )Oh hey, I recognise this. That's exactly the same stock answer they sent me, with just the name of the menu option to click changed.

Now, like me, Katy has already done all this. Changing the names that are visible to other people isn't the issue here; the issue is changing the username itself.

As I stated in the follow-up post when this was resolved for me:
...a username is not just an arbitrary selection of letters and numbers. That is to say, from a technical perspective it is, but in all other respects it's part of an identity. For a lot of people, that identity overlaps with their real life identity, and if that identity changes, it only makes sense that the username should be able to be changed along with it.
Now, it's true that a lot of sites don't have the ability to change your usernames. Conversely, however, those same sites often do not involve financial transactions, or if they do, they normally allow at least an option to transfer any purchased assets to another account.

Steam doesn't even do that. What Steam expects you to do if you want to change username is to register a new account and re-purchase ALL your games. If you don't do that, you will be forced to either split your games between two different accounts, or to leave Steam entirely.

Um, no. Nobody should ever have to give up hundreds, even thousands of dollars' worth of games because of an identity change. Yet that is exactly what's happening with many people in the same situation. Why is this allowed?

You may remember that in my post one-and-a-half years ago where I asked Steam staff if they had made any policy changes, I outlined a deliberately narrow group to ask about, because I felt that if any policy change had been made, it would apply to the people within these criteria:
...having had a legal name change (with evidence in the form of legally-recognised documentation such as a deed poll or statutory declaration), a username which was clearly based on their old name, and a clean VAC record...
I believe the option to change username should be available, at the very least, to people who meet these criteria. I would not be fundamentally opposed to this username change being subject to an additional charge, but I do believe that if you fit these criteria, imposing an additional charge on top of the charges already incurred by obtaining the legally-recognised evidence doesn't really make sense.

I don't believe that these criteria are unreasonable, and Katy meets all three. That being the case, I believe that it's reasonable to ask Steam to allow Katy to change her Steam username, hence this post.

As with the last time this happened, this is a public post on DW (as are most of my posts). Please feel free to link to it from elsewhere if you agree!

(Subscribers to this journal should watch for another post after this one that I'm going to make access-only; I'm writing an email to Gabe to hopefully get this sorted out for all trans people, and I'd like your thoughts on it!)
Saturday, September 13th, 2014 09:35 am
* You Need A Budget is great

* So is Assassin's Creed 2

* I think after years of coming back to the thought every few months, I will be getting an industrial piercing in my left ear. After the holiday, of course, but shortly after. I just love the look of it.

* So much left to do before the holiday, eeep. Only three more weeks left to do them

* Two weeks ago, the husband and I were at my nephew's birthday, last weekend we were at a wedding, this weekend we'll be visiting his parents and next weekend my father. And we also haven't seen his biological dad in a long time. Right now I just really crave a quiet weekend spent at home. That would also certainly be good for the state of the flat...
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Saturday, September 13th, 2014 12:24 am
Gentle Readers
a newsletter made for sharing
volume 2, number 2
11th September 2014: phrase and foible
What I’ve been up to

I've been ill. It was rather worse than it should have been, because I hadn't registered with a new doctor up here yet, and then quite a lot of paper had to fly around giving various people permission to do various things. So I haven't been in a fit state to write this for a week or so, which is frustrating because I had a lot of interesting articles planned. I may start adding in some extra days in order to make up the time.

A poem of mine

FUNERAL
 
I don't intend to die, for I have much to finish first.
But if you plan my funeral, if worst should come to worst,
I want some decent hymns, some "Love Divine"s, and "Guide me, O"s.
Say masses for my soul (for I shall need them, heaven knows),
And ring a muffled quarter-peal, and preach a sermon next
(“Behold, that dreamer cometh” should be given as the text),
Then draw a splendid hatchment up, proclaiming my decease.
And cast me where the lamp-post towers over Parker's Piece
That I may lie for evermore and watch the Cambridge skies...
I'll see you in the Eagle then, and stand you beer and pies.

A picture

http://gentlereaders.uk/pics/in-bed-with-gregor
"...and not only did he run off in the middle of the night,
he even left a creepy-crawly in the bed for me to find in the morning.
I tell you, that's the last time I go home with Gregor Samsa."

Something wonderful

Sometimes, when I read about people from the past, I wonder what it was like to have a conversation with them. Can you imagine going out to get fish and chips with Carl Linnaeus, for example? You'd be chatting about something, and all of a sudden you'd hear him gasp "Oh, Veronica," so you'd look round and he'd be on his hands and knees saying, "My goodness, a hitherto undiscovered variety of speedwell!" And of course it's rather easier to imagine what Johnson was like to meet socially, since that's how so many of his biographers observed him.

Another such person is a Baptist minister named Ebenezer Cobham Brewer (1810-1897), the owner of an inquisitive mind, a formidable beard, and one of the strongest things in the world: a good habit. As he read, and he read a great deal, he would write down every question that crossed his mind. When he found the answer, he would write it on the same piece of paper, then file it. You may imagine that paper files formed a large part of his life, and also a large part of his house.

http://gentlereaders.uk/pics/e-cobham-brewer


In his mid-twenties, he collected many of these questions together into a popular science manual entitled A Guide to the Scientific Knowledge of Things Familiar. This sold so well that it enabled him to leave Norwich and travel around Europe, investigating and learning. Because the book also brought him into the public eye, he began to receive a great deal of correspondence about questions the book had raised, which nourished his files still further.

He returned to England at the age of forty-six, to begin his greatest work: Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Many of the questions he had considered were about mysterious allusions in his reading; what did this phrase mean? or what story was referred to there? He determined to answer as many as possible, in alphabetical order. The job took fourteen years. Even though he was sixty by the time the book was published, he went on to produce a revised edition in 1891 at the age of seventy-four.

It's still in print, and I urge you to find a copy if you can-- it's easily found second-hand. Discovering Brewer enriched my childhood; I would wander through his pages and learn things fascinating enough that it didn't matter how useless the knowledge might be. It often came in useful, though, years later. And Brewer's own touch is on every line: you really can imagine that it would have been much the same to have a chat with him, darting from subject to subject with the dazzling randomness of a dragonfly.

Something from someone else

"Monsieur" here is Francis, duke of Anjou (1555-1584), who had been courting Elizabeth I. They were both interested, but politics is rarely an easy game, and in the end he gave up and went back to France.

ON MONSIEUR'S DEPARTURE
by Elizabeth Tudor

I grieve and dare not show my discontent,
I love and yet am forced to seem to hate,
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant,
I seem stark mute but inwardly to prate.
I am and not, I freeze and yet am burned.
Since from myself another self I turned.

My care is like my shadow in the sun,
Follows me flying, flies when I pursue it,
Stands and lies by me, doth what I have done.
His too familiar care doth make me rue it.
No means I find to rid him from my breast,
Till by the end of things it be suppressed.

Some gentler passion slide into my mind,
For I am soft and made of melting snow;
Or be more cruel, love, and so be kind.
Let me or float or sink, be high or low.
Or let me live with some more sweet content,
Or die, and so forget what love ere meant.

As someone who knew her once said, uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
 
Colophon

Gentle Readers is published on Mondays and Thursdays, and I want you to share it. The archives are at http://gentlereaders.uk/ , and so is a form to get on the mailing list. If you have anything to say or reply, or you want to be added or removed from the mailing list, I’m at thomas@thurman.org.uk and I’d love to hear from you. The newsletter is reader-supported; please pledge something if you can afford to, and please don't if you can't. Love and peace to you all.
 
 

Thursday, September 11th, 2014 08:04 pm
In Welsh, where he started, the wizard in the Arthur stories is called Myrddin. In English we say Merlin, which comes from his Latin name, Merlinus. The Latin name seems to have been made up by Geoffrey of Monmouth (yes, him again). Now, there's no sound in Latin corresponding to Welsh "dd", but generally you'd represent it with a similar sound, like D. So why on earth did Geoffrey change it to an L?

Well, I read something today (and now I can't find where), which pointed out that Geoffrey must have been familiar with Norman French, so presumably he figured that calling a character "Merdinus" would bring hilarity rather than gravitas.
Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 07:48 pm

So, about three years ago, I took an Esperanto exam at level B2, and figured that would be the highest level I would take; partly since certification in Esperanto is pretty pointless anyway and partly because I didn’t think I’d ever get to C1, as I thought that’s basically native-speaker level.

But this year, I decided (more or less on a whim) to apply for the C1-level test held during SES 2014 in Slovakia, which I attended. I figured that not enough people would apply and that the test would get cancelled like it did last year.

But no, when I got there, I found that the test was actually scheduled, so I got to sit it. The spoken part was via Google Hangout with two teachers in different parts of Europe; the written part was the next day in a big room with all the other participants. (I sat next to a nun who was sitting the B1 level, if I remember correctly.)

It did take me nearly all the time scheduled, which surprised me a little; especially the essay tasks. (Plus I had to come up with an opinion on Google Glass and its influence on society, a topic I hadn’t given all that much specific thought to before.) And I was glad that I had borrowed a [monolingual Esperanto] dictionary from my teacher, since I referred to it fairly often during the test and did not have to share one of the few shared ones.

I got the scores for my individual spoken portion during the SES week, but was told that complete scores would have to wait until September.

Fast forward till today: my scores are now available in a password-protected area on the ITK website.

And I did fairly well, if I do say so myself: 84/90 spoken, 76/80 written. I was a little surprised that my “written self-expression” scored better than my “reading understanding”, but whatever.

So, in a few more weeks I should have a little bound diploma telling me that I can officially speak Esperanto at a C1 level; who would have thought that a couple of years ago!


Detailed results below the cut )

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Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 08:50 am
When I'm away from the keyboard - in the car, usually - I think of all the things I could write the next time I update my journal, and then when I get home, I get distracted or tired and can't focus. Now is no different, but I'm forcing myself to write anyway because it's been almost two weeks.

The day after my RAV4 blew up, H&P started having trouble with our old Subaru on their way to Atlanta for DragonCon. It turned out to be melted wiring in the tail light, which told the electrical system the car wasn't safe to drive, and refused to let it shift out of park. That caused a lot of aggravation over the course of what was supposed to be a fun weekend for them, but was easy and cheap to fix once they managed to get back home.

Meanwhile, the RAV4 turned out to be not at all cheap to fix, although not as expensive as I feared. The compressor unit and the condenser had to be replaced entirely. But the turnaround time was pretty quick once I finally called it in - they towed it away around noon on Wednesday and it was ready before noon on Friday.

I've been looking at potential replacements for the RAV4, now that it's becoming troublesome. We tested a Prius V on Labor Day, and Robby said he would like to have something like that for his long commute, but I thought it was too fiddly and all the data distracted my focus from the road. We also wanted to look at a Mazda 5, but they had sold their only one earlier that morning. They're supposed to get another one in sometime today for us to try out. If that one doesn't win me over either, I'll probably just get another newer RAV4 when the time comes, especially if I can find one which has the optional third row seat, which my current one does not have. I also like the Highlander, which my father-in-law has, but it's a bit pricey.

So yeah, the car thing has been a lot on my mind lately. Other than that, it's pretty much the same old stuff week after week. Right now I'm trying to wrap up some knitting projects and read Lev Grossman's Magicians trilogy. I also have a lot of new music to learn for the fall chorus concert, which is about six weeks away. And I have something new to look forward to next May - we've been invited to sing at Carnegie Hall. Exciting!