allekha: (Japan and China learnings)
Yesterday I went for a walk in the evening - didn't feel too great, but I feel strange if I don't take a proper walk unless I was out a good portion of the day - and instead of going to the park like usual, wandered a bit further to an old graveyard down the street.

For some reason, old graveyards don't really trigger my issues with death. (It's possible new ones don't either, but I've never been in one.) I walked around looking at the headstones - it really is historic, the very newest I saw were over fifty years old, and most were for people who died in the 1800s or earlier. Someone had left a basket of fake flowers by a grave for someone who died in the 1880s; there was a memorial for a young man, only 17 and change, who 'was drowned while he bathed'. I don't know if that means he was murdered or if it was an accident. I wondered on the way back if that story is written anywhere else - a newspaper, a diary in some archive - or if all that is left of it, the pain that family must have felt, is that engraving. You can also get a beautiful view of a nearby stream and lake there, though I didn't see any birds or insects out on the water. Is it too early for them yet, here? I'll have to go back and see. Or maybe try in the morning. The bats have been out for a couple of weeks, so it seems like I should at least see some bugs.

Did end up with a headache, though, the kind that hurts worse the more you move around. Probably should have taken something before I left, but at least it didn't hurt much until I was only a couple of blocks from home, and then I could down some ibuprofen and go sleep until it went away.

Today I chained myself to my desk to finish my fandom5k fic. It's rather longer than the minimum - I think it's the longest fanfic I've written save for my very very first one from a decade ago, which is of course terrible and never to be spoken of again. ...and then I went to check, and nope, there's another terrible early fic of mine that hit 30k over four years. But it's my longest since I started posting things again in 2011. (I've plenty of longer origfic, though - that f/f historical fantasy one I still need to finish is probably going to wrap up at ~120k. Maybe a bit more if I'm unlucky.) Anyway, I do need to edit it, but that can wait a couple of days; I have a take-home exam next week but I should have plenty of time to poke at the fic. I also shook my gift and am v. excited for reveals now, plus there's at least three other stories I'm looking forward to checking out in the collection.

Been rewatching small parts of Yuri on Ice for a different fic - I want to do a proper rewatch but haven't had the time - and, gosh, episode 10 still kills me. I skipped right to the church scene and ow, my heart, like, I physically felt it in my chest in the way that only happens when I'm up way too late with emotionally-resonant fiction. The way Yuuri takes off Victor's glove, the way he has trouble getting the ring on Victor's hand, the way he twitches when Victor takes his hand, the little gasp he makes when he sees the ring on his own hand, the way he says 'Thank you for everything up til now' so formally and then his voice gets kind of choked up, aaah. I love this anime so much.

...and woo, movie announcement! I don't think I'm going to get SUPER excited until we have more deets (what's it about? when can I see it? it's not going to be a Japan-only release for months, is it? how beautiful can they make the skating?) but I am very glad to hear that there is going to be more canon.
allekha: (Default)
I posted another YoI fic, which brings me up to an even 20 stories posted for the year, if you count the anthropomorfic I did at the start of the year (which I do, because round numbers) \o/ I'm actually still a bit unsure about the story, but I already added 1.5k in editing it and I'm tired of staring at it and going 'is this too much about spirit lady? did I write Victor correctly?' so up it goes. At this point I'm just glad that I was able to write it a summary.

(Speaking of YoI, my skate track CD arrived on Tuesday morning. Guess what's been playing on repeat since then.)

There was this book about medical mysteries I really wanted to borrow, but despite having access to three different library systems on Overdrive, none of them had it; I guess I'll have to go borrow it in person when the library opens again and finish it before I go back to my apartment. Instead, I borrowed something else on my to-read list, a book about the discovery of Tutankhamen's mummy and what happened to it afterwards, prompted by the author's noticing of critical letters to the editor in a journal about an article about Tut's medical issues disputing pretty much everything. So far, the book has been interesting, though do not read if bad 19th-century archaeology makes you cringe too hard (ahhhh take photos before you drag the mummies out ahhhh stop taking everything to humid climates ahhhh stop ruining everything). This improves by the time they start excavating Tut's tomb.

Today, I met with my friend B and we went out for ramen (though this time they charged me $1 extra for half an egg instead of giving me the whole egg that was supposed to come with mine because I got the vegetarian version >( ). He told me about his adventures in being a new teacher and when we came back, he introduced me to Death Parade and I introduced him to Yuri on Ice. After he left, my parents and I went to buy mead and taste champagne at a local wine shop; turns out I still do not like champagne and will try to avoid at the party I'm going to tomorrow. We had dinner at a place we had never been to before, which is seafood-themed but had several vegetarian dishes, and I can't remember having better lasagna. All in all, a good day.

A few days ago, we had stupidly warm weather (~60F/15C) and I took advantage with a long walk in the woods in the nearby park. I went off the path and down to the little creek that runs through and just had fun finding places to cross by standing on rocks, jumping from sandbar to sandbar, walking on logs... it was very soothing to me. Very much like home. I have so many memories of playing in the woods and the creeks, often on my own, when I was a kid. Near my apartment, there's a place with a waterfall that turns into a river that goes through the trees. It's not the same - the banks are much steeper, the river is wider, there are no wild roses - but I should go down there more often when it warms up and see how it feels clambering around on the rocks. If nothing else, I've found I like sitting and reading by the waterfall.
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I am home! For once, instead of taking a train or bus, Z and I roadtripped down and he's going to stay for a couple of days until going home for Christmas. To be honest I probably would have preferred the train in terms of comfort (I don't like spending time in cars, and it was a six hour drive) but we did start listening to a new podcast, which I liked.

There's not a lot of exciting stuff to do around here, but he'll finally get to see all the things I compare the town we live in against. Like the library, with actual space between the shelves and real numbers of books. And the ice cream made from the milk of cows on campus by students. We're also going to go out to some of the more tourist-y places, too. Also, we're going to watch the Yuri on Ice finale in a few hours together and probably work on our cosplays, so we'll have some fun.

Z also beta'd that Phichit & Yuuri mostly in Detroit fic for me this morning (it's always interesting to see people react to your writing in real time, if a bit awkward to sit there while they read it) so I was able to post it before the finale \o/ Also, geez it's been a long time since I've been in a very active fandom and wow, the number of hits things get.
allekha: (Default)
It got colder again toward the end of last week; I'd planned to go for a run on Thursday, but it started snowing by the time I'd finished lunch and I didn't fancy going out and falling on the slippery asphalt. I did go for a long walk, though; I listened to a podcast while strolling around in the park and playing Pokemon Go, even sat on the swings for a few minutes. I had the whole place to myself for almost the entire time, with the snow falling more and less gently and a fog rolling in when I reached the crest of the hill, where you can see the city and the river below, and out into the mountains.

Then I came back, wrote some fanfic, and woke up to find that my hot water had frozen despite having set my faucets to drip overnight. My landlord couldn't fix it until the next morning, which worked out okay, and it snowed again. The CCSF finished up, and I think it came off rather well for the most part except for a few bumps in the road. For one thing, the scavenger hunt seems to have been too hard - probably going to extend the deadline a couple of days and clarify some things to make it easier. And I still have to code the prizes, which will be more or less easy depending on how complicated I decide to make them. I have a tendency to err on the side of 'does more stuff'....

Anyway, I got my hot water back, and Z and I re-watched Mulan, and I've been writing, so all in all, a good weekend.

I finished up the gen Phichit & Yuuri in Detroit fic, so that's been sat on the backburner for a couple of days and now I need to edit it. (I'd kind of like to get a beta for it, but after all these years in fandom, I still have no idea how you get a beta you don't already know in real life. Besides 'ask on FFA and hope someone answers'?) The other thing I've been working on wasn't even on my list; I just couldn't get over Yuuri's expression and pose in that scene where JJ is imagining the other skaters towering over him, so now I'm halfway through JJ dreaming about eros!Yuuri seducing him before the final. Brain, what.

As for non-YoI anime, I haven't been watching much this season, but I just finished episode 11 of the 2012 anime Uta Koi. I started watching it because I love the Heian period and it's a loose adaptation of the lives of Heian poets, but past episode 6 I've become fond of it on its own merits. Episode 6 was an incredibly silly and hilarious filler episode, and from then on the stories have somehow been more enticing to me. I think the poetry might be getting more to my tastes, perhaps that's it.

While I do have a couple of criticisms of it (why do all of the ladies have their eyebrows so low?! must they be attractive to modern audiences?), the show does a good job of portraying the isolation and lack of freedom the women of the age had - but that doesn't mean they didn't have agency. Sei Shounagon appears in three episodes and despite her outspokenness, still finds love - and not just once. She has two different loves in the series, and then at the end she moves on and may yet love again.

Episode 11 hit me especially because it addressed one of my problems with the series: all heterosexuality all the time. As the number of relationships in a series goes up, given a lack of homophobia that could explain their absence, the less and less I can suspend my disbelief if nobody is in a same-sex relationship. And as far as we can tell, Heian Japan didn't have a problem with same-sex relationships per se (the court sure had a lot of rules about relationships in general).

So, in this episode, Murasaki Shikibu shows up. Now, keep in mind I've read The Tale of Murasaki, in which she has relationships with women, and even written Murasaki/other Heian lady. (They used the language of love poetry while writing to each other. I would love to know where some western authors writing on the subject got the idea that this was 'normal between platonic friends. Super platonic. Not romantic AT ALL even though they're comparing themselves to ducks that mate for life and talking about how charming their faces are when uncovering them at night. Friendship!!!') The episode summary is about her and another girl being childhood friends. I'm prepared to be disappointed.

I'm not. The language is as direct as it gets for the other couples: Murasaki and her friend Kaoriko continuously praise each other as children - Kaoriko praises Murasaki for her unwomanly intelligence and her writing, and Murasaki praises Kaoriko for her strength of body and character. When they're older and Kaoriko is about to get married for the sake of her family, Murasaki thinks 'I really love you', and then they cuddle while clasping hands and lamenting that Murasaki isn't a man so they can get married to each other.

After they have been parted for a long time, Murasaki finally sees Kaoriko again, but only briefly and from behind, then writes her a letter. Kaoriko, who used to have a lively spirit, is struggling with raising her children and feels like she can't face Murasaki when she's become obedient to her husband, and doesn't reply. However, Murasaki, who has been struggling through the episode with writer's block and with what kind of story she wants The Tale of Genji to be, decides that she is going to make it a story about the strength of women, remembering how Kaoriko loved her writing so much, and manages to write the next chapter. Though she misses Kaoriko, she hopes that she will see the story Murasaki has written and see the message of strength she has put into it.

It was just - a lovely story mixing fiction with fact, about the relationships and power women could find when the first thing you read about them in this period is about how isolated they were, sometimes from even the gardens outside their rooms. And the premier woman author of Japan, not only being in love with another woman, but being inspired by her for and dedicating to her the famous Tale of Genji, though it's about a man who primarily pursues woman. This is treated just like the other love stories - tragic, perhaps, in their long parting, but no more so than most of the others. (For example, one man has to abandon a woman after she is arranged to someone else, though they both wish she wasn't; another chooses to let the woman he loves go in order to allow her to choose a career in the palace, which is her dream.)

...hm, while I'm home for Christmas, I should re-start my read-through of Genji. I never finished it the first time, and I'm sure I've forgotten all I did read.
allekha: (Default)
I now rejoin you from the Land of Installing Caffe Dependencies and Compiling It. Hello new people from the friending meme!

Caffe is the 'deep learning'/neural network program I need to use for the project I'm on. I did not have a fun time getting it to run: first I had to install Ubuntu, where I managed to crash the installer twice. (I now believe that anyone who seriously thinks Linux can compete with Windows is either deluded or seriously overestimating the technical skills of your average user.) Then I had a joy of a time getting a certain driver to work, and after three of us had a go at it, we gave up and now I can't turn Caffe to GPU-mode (which is faster, hence why we tried so hard to get it to work). And I eventually had to give up on using Python 3 to interface with it instead of 2.7. This is all before I even figure out how to work the program, of course....

I might only have two classes, but so far they've been interesting. A couple of weeks ago, for our professional seminar, we talked about philosophy for three hours. Normally, that sounds like my idea of hell - philosophy is Not My Thing. But it was actually fun - we talked about the kind of philosophy that I got in Intro to Cogsci, which not everyone in the room had taken. So, monism vs dualism (the world is made of one thing vs two kinds of things), and materialism vs idealism/solipsism (the world is made of matter vs the world is made of thoughts/the worlds is made of MY thoughts). I didn't think anyone actually believed in solipsism, but apparently those people exist. The idea is just so hard for me to take seriously, though - everything, including other people, are essentially figments of my mind? I don't think I'm nearly imaginative enough for that.

Oh, and apparently there are people who take the stance of non-integrative dualism, which is just ??? - dualism, in a cogsci context, is basically this idea that the mind and the brain are different things rather than one and the same. But the state of the brain affects the mind - if you injure certain areas, you can't move right or process words, or whatever, not to mention the effects of drugs like alcohol, etc. So most people who believe in a soul or who want the mind to be its own thing take the brain to somehow be a gateway or interface between the physical and mental worlds - and if you injure the interface, of course you're going to have trouble. That's integrative dualism. We didn't really talk about non-integrative dualism so I'm not sure how that is supposed to work at all.

Last week we talked about deliberate practice - if you've read that book by Malcolm Gladwell, you probably know what that is. Essentially, it's this idea that to become really world-class at anything, you need to engage in deliberate practice, which isn't fun and is mentally exhausting, for thousands of hours. We looked at the original paper (referenced in the book) talking about violin students at a music school in Germany. The definition of deliberate practice still seems kind of vague to me, though. Like, what does that look like for writing? And then this week we talked about logic, how to teach logic, how logic applies to the real world, and the utility of logic in cogsci.

Outside of the classroom, a couple of the other new grad students and I have started meeting up every week to watch some anime. A few weeks ago we watched the first few episodes of Bodacious Space Pirates, though I missed most of the fourth because of talking over it. I... don't really know what to think of it. Is it good? Is it not good? It's fun, but I think I need more episodes to tell whether I like it or not. Other than that, we've been watching Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, which I definitely do like. It's fun and light-hearted, and I adore the way it pokes fun at anime/shoujo tropes. Like when Nozaki can't draw a girl sitting behind a guy on a bike because it's illegal (people in Japan still do it, though, at least in Akita), and they try using a tandem bike instead.

I finished a book (a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, one of my favorite childhood authors). Now I only have three more to finish before I let myself get a local library card \o/

Wrote up a list of stories that I have at least vague ideas for or for which I have written a 'pilot story', arranged in rough order of priority. There are 23 works or ideas on there, one of which is a trilogy and another of which I know is going to be super-long when I finish it. This is not even including the fanfiction. At least I won't be running out of ideas anytime soon?
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My new laptop finally arrived! I think that either the delivery people don't knock very loudly or this house absorbs the noise from the front door too well - I missed a delivery on my birthday while I was in the house, and when my computer arrived, I decided to sit by the window and watch for it. I got up for less than five minutes to check on something, and the FedEx truck came and left a not-delivered notice in that time. While the window was open and I was still relatively close by and not listening to music or something. ??? I can hear things going on in the street, too. Thankfully the truck hadn't left yet and I was able to catch it! And then spend 9 hours attempting to do a clean install of Windows 10 (sob), a long saga centered around a broken usb stick and unhelpful error messages that ended in victory.

I'm still waiting to be able to do much research - part of the problem is that the software I would be using has to be installed on a secure computer in the computing center for us to remote login to. Apparently IBM would be fine with it being installed on our laptops, but the university is VERY STRICT on export controls. Us students did have a meeting to go over the software more in depth, but I still have a lot of questions about, you know, using it. Someone was supposed to send out documents but that has yet to happen, so I'm mostly stuck in the corner going, "Okay, but I don't know how to apply this to ALife D:" which we're going to address in the next meeting.

Tomorrow I have class. I'm also trying out a writing club. So I'll be getting out of the apartment to actually interact with people on more than a shallow basis. My friends from back home are coming to visit in a couple of weeks, but I would really like to make some friends here. I'm not exactly unhappy, but I do feel a little bit lonely. I do get along well with some of the other grad students I'll be seeing on a regular basis; hopefully that will become more regular.

I still don't like cooking. But I do like the food I make. Cleaning is kind of fun, though I have yet to bring myself to vacuum (I can't stand loud noises, but it's not pleasant to wear earplugs either).

After hearing some spoilers about the ending, I talked myself into trying Hannibal. I thought it would be way too gory for me and I don't watch a lot of western TV lately; while there have been some scenes where I had to look away, it hasn't been as bad as I thought and I'll have some thoughts to write down when I finish it. Certainly the subtext is getting less, ah, sub. Been working my way though a cross-stitch kit I was given a few years ago as I watch; cross-stitch is boring compared to surface embroidery but bearable if I have something to engage with, and I'll have a bookmark when it's done (as if I need another one).

Lately my brain's been coming up with stories faster than I can write them. Brain. I can't write the f/f dragon ones, the Elizabethan fantasy with the magical androgynes, the selfcest-y space opera, the east Asian fantasy trilogy, the wing kids one, the other wing people one, AND fanfic at the same time. Stop iiiiiiit.

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allekha

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