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: (Tomoyo x Sakura)
I've finished the first page of that Japanese academic paper I'm working on \o/ That only took me a few days. 9.3 pages left to go. According to Mnemosyne, I scraped/mined 48 sentence fragments for studying from that page; I hope that number will go down a little bit for the rest now that I've got some of the fundamental vocabulary and grammar points, but there are some words that are unlikely to repeat. Like 歯車(はぐるま|haguruma) and 滑車(かっしゃ|kassha), gear and pulley (talking about the construction of Babbage's Analytic Engine). (That pair drives me up the wall, by the way, because 歯車 uses the kun reading of 車 and 滑車 the on one. But at least it's not as bad as 売上高, which uses all kun readings even though it's a compound word, and which tripped me up so badly the first time I tried to read it.)

While I'm on the topic of Japanese, I finally got around to making myself a Tenso account in order to buy doujinshi from Japan. One from Pixiv Booth - that one I was nervous about because of my obviously foreign name (even wrote it in latin characters) but it went through just fine and was delivered. Then added another last night because I found out that the person who did the genderswapped Yuri-as-in-f/f on Ice art did a full-color book on the concept, and I am weak /o\ And I ordered, uh, a lot from Toranoana. It's all so cheap per book, even with international shipping! Which I way overestimated at first. I dug through almost every single page for Yuri on Ice on Toranoana, and while it was overwhelmingly Victuuri with some OtaYuri and a smattering of Yuuri/Yuri and Victor/Yuri, I was pleased to find that there are a few rarer ships in there, along with some gen ones. I think I ordered a Seung-Gil/JJ doujinshi with nice art, at least one EmiMike book, and a long gen Victor backstory book; I also saw several Phichit/Seung-gil books, and even a Phichit/Celestino one just popped up on there, it looks like. I even bought one thing that wasn't Yuri on Ice!

Mm, I just like physical fandom media. Digital is good, too - I have plenty of scans - but it's not quite the same as curling up on my couch or laying on my bed with a book and no screen. (Except my phone. I use doujinshi for language-learning, too, and even if I don't feel like it at the moment, sometimes I want to look a word up.) There's just something about the way that zines and doujinshi and the like physically communicate enthusiasm for a source. After I bought stuff, I wandered around the genre tags on Toranoana for a while, just seeing what was out there - Undertale, Tokyo Babylon, historic RPF, Vocaloid CDs, original cooking manga, even one on how to make a 'can piano' out of used aluminum cans.

Oh, and are there any active language-learning comms here on DW? Or even something like [livejournal.com profile] linguaphiles? I tried some interests but couldn't find anything that was being used.

I haven't gotten around to checking out everything I might be interested in this anime season, but tonight I watched Kimi no Na Wa/Your Name with some friends.
Cut for spoilers, though they are very vague )
allekha: (Default)
Merry Christmas to all of those who celebrate it! (And if you don't, I hope you enjoy any other winter holidays you may celebrate.)

My family had a good, quiet time - it was just the three of us, and we put on the Nutcracker music while we opened presents. Some were practical (my mom got a new pot; my parents got me a chargeable handwarmer) and others not so much. There was a lot of chocolate. So, so much chocolate. On top of the Christmas cake, too (a new tradition ever since my mom and I had one when we spent Christmas in Japan). My dad received three books - The Undoing Project from me and Euclid's Elements and the new translation of Principia Mathematica from my mom, so a bit of light winter reading. I got the Avatar: the Last Airbender coloring book and a set of colored pencils to try out on it :D Plus another Japanese vegetarian cookbook.

My mom had told me to get a clock for them since the one in the kitchen had stopped working, and apparently she told my dad the same thing, so now we have a practical clock in the kitchen, and a decorative one sitting in his office waiting for us to find it the right spot. It has golden ratio spirals in the background and complex equations for each number, so it's a biiiit harder to read than the normal clock. Though it's much more interesting to look at.

Dinner was nice, eggs on toast and fruit salad and of course the Christmas cake, paired with raspberry-honey mead I brought with me. I started buying mead on a lark because I wanted to know how it tasted, but it turns out I like it and my mom just declared that she likes it more than wine, haha. And we Googled and found out that there's a local meadery twenty minutes away! They're only open three days a week; I wonder if they sell anywhere else in the state.

Z went and got me the whole (!?!) hardcover set of Avatar comics that are out so far, so, wow. <3 He also wrote a very nice note on the back of a Pathfinder character sheet for Yuuri <3 <3 Must find a way to integrate that into a game.

Speaking of Z, he made it safely back home. While he was here, we had a good time going around the area and eating local ice cream. I gave him a full tour of the campus here (much bigger than the one where we're studying) and we had a nice walk at my second-favorite park. And yesterday especially we worked on our Yuri on Ice cosplays - sanding and painting our experimental silver crystals for his costume and continuing adventures in dyeing fabric. We wanted the fabric under the mesh on Yuuri's costume to fit his skintone as well as possible and it was way too light; after putting a little dye in at a time, on our third try we dumped the entire rest of the bottle in and gave it an extra fifteen minutes, which did the trick. And now I have a dye pot! I've wanted to try dyeing fabric for forever.

I uncurled the wig I got for young!Victor yesterday (couldn't find a bangless straight one in the right color), which, for future reference, took just under two and a half hours and lead to sore hand muscles. It somehow feels even softer now - I love the wigs from this company - and as someone who had never so much as touched a hair straightener before (I have long hair, so I need to avoid damaging it), it amazes me that people actually use them on their hair. I was dampening down each section before straightening it and the straightener - on its lowest setting - was hot enough to turn the water into vapor. Yikes. No wonder it damages hair. Today I also used the straightener to undo the part and pull all of the hair back. It's now ready to style, which I'll do whenever the fake roses I ordered get here and I've made them into the crown.

The weather was nice today - relatively warm and sunny - though I slept through my chance to go for a run. Oh, well. I'll do some exercises tonight instead, and then try to get writing done now that I have the time.
allekha: (Default)
It's 6am, I can't get back to sleep, and nobody else is up. The perfect time to rewatch the Yuri on Ice finale and write about it. Hopefully it came out coherent. I wish I had time to engage more with the fandom right now - I have no idea what anyone else thinks of this episode yet - but that's not going to happen until Z goes home in a couple of days. I'm too busy enjoying his company right now.
Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers )
allekha: (Default)
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 spent pretty much all day today working on my final project for my R class, which... I am not very happy with, but as long as I at least get 50%, I should still get an A, assuming I did as well as I think I did on the last exam. The main problem was the goddamn string manipulation from my dataset. Never again, R. Never, ever ever ever again. If I have to manipulate strings to get my data computer-readable and for some reason I want to use R? That's going through Python first. I seriously spent longer on making my dates into numbers the program would like than actually doing statistics. (Oh, and the csv didn't read empty values properly which fucked up my one attempt at doing a learning and prediction thing, woo. If I fixed that then my graphs didn't get proper labels. I ran out of time and prioritized readable graphs, and commented out the prediction thing with an apology and short explanation.)

Enough of that. The CCSF is chugging along - the logic puzzle I put together seems to be going over well - the semester is basically over except that I need to email my advisor about some things, and today was Yuri on Ice day!
Spoilers below )
allekha: (Default)
SO THAT WAS AN EPISODE.

I wanted to re-watch it right away, but unfortunately I had to do school stuff and attend a meeting and then I dropped of exhaustion as soon as I came home at 7pm but NOW I can experience this joy of an episode again :D

Spoilers, ho! )
allekha: (Default)
Thanksgiving break went well. My parents and I had a good lunch/dinner; I made pumpkin pie from scratch for the first time, and the recipe turned out better than the storebought we usually get, I think. The only thing that did not go well was the whole wheat rolls, which we made because my mom couldn't find anything in the stores she liked. According to the recipe, we baked them in the muffin tin, and... well, we had muffin-shaped bread rolls. They only tasted so-so, too.

I was there until Monday morning due to the train schedule, so over the weekend, my dad and I went to a local secondhand bookshop and picked up books. I managed to get three from my to-read list. And my mom and I went to a frozen custard place that just opened to have custard for breakfast - she had just read about a study by a Japanese researcher that showed that people who had ice cream for breakfast did better on cognitive tasks than either people who had no ice cream for breakfast or who drank cold water instead of eating ice cream, so we joked about that on the way there and afterward.

Also, I had mentioned that I really loved this new figure skating anime to my mom, so she wanted to watch it, and then my dad came in early on in episode three, and they liked it so much that we mainlined the whole thing and then watched episode eight while it was simulcasting. And then on Sunday, we ended up watching some real figure skating.

I had a bit of an odd experience in that I got into a (long) political discussion with my dad at one point, which went rather well even though we're not exactly on the same page. It was a real discussion, not an argument like you usually hear about happening on Thanksgiving. He's a third party member and his viewpoint is that a government strong enough to protect you is strong enough to persecute you, and I understand his beliefs better now even if I don't agree with all or even many of them.

(There was one point were I burst into tears when we got to talking about Pence and I did have to explain to him that when I was crying and talking about how my friends have experienced hate crimes and it's still legal in too many places to send your kid to psychological torture if they are gay or have gender issues, what I wanted was not to hear how the other side was bad too, but to get a goddamn hug. Then he gave me a hug. He is ultimately a compassionate and caring person, but for various reasons his emotional IQ is kind of lacking.)

Getting back was exhausting (local train + Amtrak 1 + two hour layover + Amtrak 2) and took nine hours. Usually it takes six. Thankfully I managed to snag a taxi with some other people going the same way instead of having to pay twice as much. Taking two buses back and then trudging up a hill to get home was not something I wanted to consider even if it would be free.

My co-host and I ended up deciding to delay the Creatures Community Spirit Festival due to lack of submission, which was a bit frustrating and last-minute, but should hopefully work out for the better. Now it's happening during finals, but I'm actually probably busier this week than I will be that week (thanks, multiple programming homeworks). And I might have time to put another thing or two together. At least the associated blog carnival is still going this week, and that's worked out well; everyone has interesting thoughts to read and has posted every day so far.

YoI Episode 9 spoilers under here )
allekha: (Default)
It's nice to be back after being gone for so long. (Long story short: my computer became unusable due to power issues, then was held captive by tech support for almost two months, after which it still wasn't fixed because they couldn't be bothered to ship the right part from California, so I then had to take it to a local place and spend my own money to get the power jack replaced.)

We had our first snowfall near the end of October. I wonder if we'll have a proper winter this year.

Happy, mostly fannish stuff under this cut )

Elections-related stuff under this cut )

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allekha

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