No neighbor updates, just rambling

Aug. 21st, 2017 09:05 pm
mildred_of_midgard: Johanna Mason head shot (Johanna)
[personal profile] mildred_of_midgard
My point-by-point rebuttal to her email to the landlord complaining that I'm unreasonable. Real names redacted for privacy.

Cut for tedium. Commentary below the cut )

"I can confidently say I've never called her."

Anybody who's been reading this blog for any length of time has seen how I am about phone calls. I AVOID them!

"You don't try building a dog run for a one-off."

This was an allusion to the landlord in May claiming to me that he had no idea how bad the problem was, he thought it was a couple of one-offs. I am HIGHLY skeptical, since he's the one who told me about the previous tenants and their attempt to build a dog run to deal with the extent of the mess, which I here remind him of.

But since he has finally taken action, I see no need to go on the offense against him.

"when the grass was so high the landscapers had to get a ride-around mower"

That was insane. The landlord came over for repairs, did a double take when he glanced out the window, and I immediately started going, "I can explain! There's a story!" And the story was basically that she kept saying she was going to mow, then that she was going to hire someone, then that they showed up, refused to go back there without a ride-around mower, which they couldn't fit through the side yard, and we tried to get the phone # of the landscapers out of her so we could help, pay for them, find a different contractor, etc. and she refused to give us any info and kept putting us off. Standard operating procedure for her, this was just the worst instance in terms of grass height.

And this is someone who has apparently had 2 rent checks bounce, had her electricity and gas cut off for non-payment, and claimed to me she had no idea why the electricity was broken and sent me down into the basement to check the breakers, because she refuses to go into the basement. Not an ideal tenant.

Like, I'm sympathetic if you don't have the money to pay rent, utilities, or lawn-mowing services. But don't ignore my attempts to meet you halfway, refuse repeated offers of money from me for years, and then smash windows because I eventually go over your head to the landlord.

Also, as I keep pointing out, smashing a window does not lend credence to your claims that I'm the unreasonable one here.

I really hope she moves out, either voluntarily or because her probation has turned into a hard-renewal after the window incident. That was some scary stuff. (She hasn't done anything violent since then, but at the time, we had no idea how far it was going to escalate.)

Time to start thinking about it

Aug. 21st, 2017 03:53 pm
elf: Petalwing in snow, saying "Yuletide!" (Yuletide)
[personal profile] elf
Yuletide nominations start in under 3 weeks. Time to start thinking about what to nominate, and if I want to cajole any friends into extra nominations.

Yuletide 2017 schedule - Link with updated schedule
Nominations Friday Sept 8 - Saturday Sept 16

I keep a locked post on my journal where I throw notes, over the course of the year, of fandoms I'm considering for Yuletide. This year's options include:

* Midnight Cinderella, an otome game
* Sunstone, a lesbian BDSM comic book
* 21st Century Political RPF, because I'd love to read fic of the non-mirrorverse USA
* They Might Be Giants (1971 movie), which would make some hilarious Sherlock fusion material
* Season of the Witch (book) by James Leo Herlihy, a hippie adventure novel
* Rocky Horror Picture Show, which I would love to see considered through today's fannish tropes

Fandoms I've nominated in the past and might try again:
* Liquid Sky (Movie)
* Never Promised you a Rose Garden (book)
* Schoolhouse Rock
* Elfquest, for specific characters
* Ghost Soup Infidel Blue (or some variation thereof; maybe I'll nominate the book series)

The Yuletide comm might have a "promote your fandom" post, but since the bulk of the discussion happens on LJ, I don't usually bother.

Looks like I need... *squints* one dentist and two assistants, at the most.

Such neighbor. Very drama. Wow.

Aug. 21st, 2017 07:07 pm
mildred_of_midgard: (bowiesmirk)
[personal profile] mildred_of_midgard
A while back, I posted about the neighbor. We live in a duplex, share a large, grassy backyard, and are supposed to share the responsibilities of keeping the grass cut. She has two dogs, a beagle and a lab.

She does not clean up after her dogs. There are usually at least a dozen piles of dog poop lying around in the yard.

She has insisted on taking full responsibility for mowing. I would do half the mowing, but I don't want to be picking up after her dogs. So when she said she would handle the mowing, I let her. But she doesn't mow very often. The weeds are not infrequently knee-high.

Neither of these things is good on its own, but the combination is awful.

The yard used to have a construct that was an aborted attempt at a dog run, started by the previous tenants in my unit, because they were so fed up with the dog mess. As I just said in an email to my landlord, you don't do this for a one-off. You do this if you're desperate.

So the yard is basically unusable.

I registered complaints for three years, which my landlord always met with "hire someone." In May, after a lot of attempts to work things out with the neighbor, I finally told him I was hiring someone, and taking half the cost out of rent, because I would mow if there weren't dog poop everywhere.

That lit a fire under his butt. He said cleaning up after her dogs was not my responsibility, nor was paying someone else to. He sent her a written reminder of her lease obligations to clean up after her dogs and share in lawn responsibilities.

She improved a little in terms of lawn mowing (in terms of how often the landscapers came over), but not in terms of dogs.

I sent a detailed update of the changes and lack of changes a couple weeks ago. He sent her an email saying he had decided not to renew her lease at the end of September. That if everything was perfect until the end of September, she could stay, but if she ever did it again, she was out, no more get out of jail card.

She was FURIOUS. (I am seriously eliding three years of efforts on the parts of me, my partner, and my stepdaughter to reach some sort of compromise with her, to cover half the costs of landscaping, etc., that she has consistently refused. Fortunately, some of these efforts were made in email, so I have a written record.)

She came home early from work, slammed the front door so hard it shook the house, and banged around. My partner and I were chatting when we heard the sound of breaking glass. We raised our eyebrows and went, "Is she breaking things?"

We figured she'd either accidentally knocked over a glass jar or something in her banging, or she was deliberately smashing her own stuff. Clearly furious, but not a problem per se.

Then my partner went outside. She found the neighbor sweeping up large shards of glass on the porch. Then she realized the window-sized glass pane in the front door was broken. The neighbor's unit is now open to birds, mosquitoes, etc. (We're talking probably 18 x 24 inches.)

We're not sure if she threw something through the window, or just knocked over a coat rack, but WOW. What if someone had been standing there? The landlord is now trying to get her side of the story.

The whole saga has been unfolding in a fairly dramatic way. As I reconstruct it:

Landlord emails neighbor with notice of non-renewal of lease.

Neighbor leaves a tearful message on my voicemail asking if I know why she's being evicted.

Neighbor calls landlord for explanation.

I email neighbor asking if she got clarification.

Neighbor sends me furious email saying she will clean up after her dogs but will not share lawn or snow responsibilities any more.

Neighbor comes home, bangs around, breaks window.

The weirdest part is the part where she went from asking me if I knew why she was being evicted (which the landlord said is technically not an eviction, but a non-renewal with 30+ days' notice, since she's month-to-month), to, when she found out, being furious with me.

I mean, I tried to work out the yard situation with her directly, without involving the landlord, in May. She ignored all my emails.

Then she got a warning from the landlord in late May about cleaning up after her dogs and mowing more frequently.

Then today he tells her (he forwarded the email to me), "The ongoing struggle with cleaning up after your dogs and your share of the lawn mowing is affecting our other tenants ability to enjoy the yard.

"We [he and his wife, co-landlord/landlady] really wish we were not in the position to need to take this step. This time, and this time only, we will reverse our decision if yard work and dog cleanup is kept up-to-date from here out. Should it become a matter of contention with our other tenants again, we would need to reinstate this decision."

Like, how was it not obvious that I had complained again? How was it, "I have no idea why the mean landlord is evicting me but maybe my friendly neighbor can explain" to "OH, it's the NEIGHBOR who's mean" in less than an hour?

That's what the warning was for. Also, he explained in the email notice. How did she not make the connection? I don't get it.

Anyway, waiting to hear back from the landlord on new developments. I really hope she moves out.

Also, I had to take half a day off work unexpectedly today to deal with this drama, and it's making it impossible to focus on what I really wanted to do today after work, which was write Finnick fic. (Yeah, I'm working on another story, or at least I'm trying to.)


Cannot cope, off to Mordor.
penaltywaltz: (Sherlock: Molly - Grin)
[personal profile] penaltywaltz posting in [community profile] wipbigbang
Story Title: Led About On A (Not So) Merry Chase
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Link(s): AO3
Summary: John enlists Molly’s help to cheer Sherlock up when Sherlock is down in the dumps about getting bad marks before the end of term, which means going home and facing his parents. Molly has the idea of a scavenger hunt to put Sherlock’s big, beautiful brain to use, but nothing goes right when what is supposed to be a private thing amongst a few friends becomes a campus-wide event. Will it all end happily ever after or will everything be worse off than they were before
Warnings: Mild language
Characters: Molly Hooper, John Watson, Mary Morstan, Sherlock Holmes, Greg Lestrade, James Moriarty & Sally Donovan
Pairings: Sherlock Holmes/Molly Hooper & John Watson/Mary Morstan
When I Started: July 13th, 2016
How I Lost My Shit: For some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to write this particular college AU and ended up writing a bunch of other ones instead.
How I Finished My Shit: After falling asleep for almost an entire 48 hours because of chronic illness, I woke up the evening of the day before my first finished fic in this new batch went up and was all “What else can I finish to post on the 21st?” Five chapters and six hours later, I was done with this story. It’s shorter than I had planned, but I rather like it anyway.

Eclipse is underwhelming

Aug. 21st, 2017 10:07 am
elf: Smiling South Park-style witch with big blue floppy hat and inverted pentacle (Witchy)
[personal profile] elf
I'm in a partial eclipse zone; wouldn't see the full one anyway. But still...

It's overcast. Solid pale grey sky. Which means any eclipsing is probably resulting in a slight dimming of the already dim day.

This is exactly the same weather as 38 years ago, when I got to "see" the full eclipse. I had a small sheet of treated glass to look through to see it. So I technically got to see the eclipse, because the glass let me see it without the clouds, but... no darkening in the sky (dim solid grey overcast), no watching any changes, just "here, look through this; look around until you see the sun!"

So I looked through this dark hand-sized sheet of glass, and sure enough, there's a darker glowing spot in one place in the sky. And today, I don't even have special polarized glass; I was planning on doing one of the pinhole projector things, but there doesn't seem to be much point.

I don't get to watch the Moon Lord cover the glowing body of the Sun Lady. I haz a sad.

Don't let the clouds fool you, though; it's still the best time to take down Fire Nation.
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[personal profile] reviews_and_ramblings
Gnarly (World of Love) Mickie B. Ashling
Bisexual - Erotic Romance
File Size: 3047 KB
Print Length: 192 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press; 1 edition (June 21, 2017)
Publication Date: June 21, 2017
Amazon: Gnarly (World of Love) Mickie B. Ashling

Dr. Ed Hollingsworth, widowed for five years, returns to San Sebastián, Spain, after a thirty-year absence. He seeks out his first and only male lover, pro surfer Javi Elizalde.

After surviving a near-fatal shark attack, Javi turned his back on the sport he loves and became a recluse.

Iker Lizaso, professional jai alai player, finds himself at loose ends now that his contract has expired. Forced to retire at thirty-eight, he returned to his home in the Basque Country to figure out what to do with the rest of his life.

Three different men, encumbered by their past, converge in a city famous for its food, summer festivals, and romantic promenades. Can they find happiness together? It’ll be difficult, maybe even improbable, considering their backgrounds, but Cupid’s arrow usually hits the mark, and this particular strike might be epic.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

That Whedon Thing

Aug. 21st, 2017 09:24 am
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
I gave up on Joss Whedon, Male Feminist Icon, after the first episode of DOLLHOUSE.   I was creeped out by FIREFLY's Madonna/whore thing, but somehow I reasoned around it.   The revelation that he's been using that reputation to predate on women is horrible, but not a shock.

When I read Kai Cole's statement -- do read if you have somehow missed it -- I kept flashing on the pivotal conversation in Gaudy Night, in which Harriet and Peter talk about spouses who have eaten each other, and whether there is such a thing as a marriage in which nobody is eaten.  Kai Cole was and is an architect.  Starting, by her telling, with Buffy, she dedicated hersef to  emotional labor for Joss Whedon, including producing projects that he worked on.  Harriet Vane would tell you that Whedon ate Cole.  And, going only by the direct quotations Cole gives, when Whedon confessed to her, he praised himself -- told her what a powerful stud he was, and that it wasn't his fault he was surrounded by "aggressive" actresses.

Whedon's public response to Cole's statement:

“While this account includes inaccuracies and misrepresentations which can be harmful to their family, Joss is not commenting, out of concern for his children and out of respect for his ex-wife.”

Let's unpack this.  

1.  Whedon cheated for over a decade, but Cole is the one who's hurting their children.
2.  Whedon used feminism as a tool to get laid, but now he's showing Cole respect.
3.  Cole has direct quotes from Whedon's letter, showing exactly who he is, but the account "includes inaccuracies and misrepresentations"

So.  "You're a bad mother, and I could explain how much you're lying, but I won't because unlike you I'm a good father and respect the children and you."

Whedonesque, bless them, have gone read-only and shut down.
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[personal profile] reviews_and_ramblings
Open Seating Mickie B. Ashling
Gay - Romantic Suspence
Paperback: 204 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (June 10, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634772377
ISBN-13: 978-1634772372
Amazon: Open Seating Mickie B. Ashling

Seth Wilder lost his partner of twenty years to suicide two weeks before a long-anticipated cruise. Cancellation insurance was never purchased, and Seth can’t get a refund. Bryce McFarland, his late partner’s gym buddy, appreciates his predicament, and when asked, agrees to accompany him on the trip. This way, Seth recoups the money and doesn’t have to cancel his plans. The gesture is unexpected but accepted gratefully.

The two men have nothing in common. Seth is a reclusive romance writer, and Bryce is a hard-core Grindr user with major commitment issues. Out of necessity and despite the seemingly insurmountable differences in personality, they develop a tentative rapport. As they begin their journey through the UK, Bryce helps Seth come to terms with his partner’s sudden death while Seth, in turn, discovers the root cause of Bryce’s phobia.

Shipboard romances rarely work. Sensible men resist, sexual tension notwithstanding. But a full moon and late summer breezes lend themselves to the impossible situation, barriers are crossed, and a love affair is kindled.

Open House Mickie B. Ashling
Gay - Romantic Suspence
Series: The Open Series (Book 2)
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (October 24, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634776925
ISBN-13: 978-1634776929
Amazon: Open House Mickie B. Ashling

Sequel to Open Seating
The Open Series: Book Two

By the time Seth Wilder and Bryce McFarland return to Chicago after their UK cruise, they’re halfway in love. They decide to move in together to see if their feelings can survive in the real world.

Seth receives word that a mandatory autopsy was performed on his late partner because his death was a suicide. The medical examiner’s findings are disturbing and leave some doubt as to the underlying cause of death.

Because of the suicide clause, life insurance benefits had been denied, but in light of these new findings, Seth’s lawyer advises him to appeal. The insurance investigator turns out to be the man who broke Bryce’s heart twenty-five years ago. The guy has fallen on hard times, and when he sees how successful Bryce has become—and how large Seth’s potential payout might be—he decides he wants a piece of the pie. Bryce and Seth’s new relationship is severely tested in this second novel in the Open Series.

Open Case Mickie B. Ashling
Gay - Romantic Suspence
Series: The Open Series (Book 3)
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (February 3, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1635332931
ISBN-13: 978-1635332933
Amazon: Open Case Mickie B. Ashling

Sequel to Open House
The Open Series: Book Three

Seth Wilder and Bryce McFarland deal with the aftermath of Owen Lightfoot’s destructive rampage. Once again, the insurance company denies the life insurance benefit despite the compelling evidence regarding the underlying cause of Mark’s death. However, they acknowledge their former employee’s complicity in the multiple crimes that have blindsided Seth and Bryce. They settle to keep their name out of the news, offering the couple a million dollars apiece, which they accept.

Owen learns of the big payoff and is determined to get his cut. Just when Bryce and Seth think it is all over, Owen reappears, and what follows tests the very limits of their endurance. Through the help of friends and relatives, Seth and Bryce find the strength to keep their relationship intact while seeking out the best way to stop Owen once and for all.
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[personal profile] reviews_and_ramblings
P.S. I Spook You S.E. Hamron
Gay - Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (June 12, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1635336902
ISBN-13: 978-1635336900
Amazon: P.S. I Spook You S.E. Hamron

SSA Rain Christiansen used to be the agency’s golden boy. It just takes one moment of weakness, one slight, tiny, itty-bitty paranormal sighting, and all of a sudden he’s the agency’s embarrassment. His boss gives him one last chance to redeem himself—go down to Brickell Bay, play nice with the local police, and leave the ghost sightings behind. Rain is determined to do exactly that, even if it kills him.

Cold-case detective Daniel McKenna’s latest investigation is going nowhere fast. Five years earlier, high school student Amy Greene went missing after leaving her part-time job and was never seen again. Daniel is glad to finally have the FBI help that his department requested, even if it does come in the form of his ex.

It doesn’t help that Rain is pretty sure he’s falling in love with Danny all over again—if he ever stopped. Add to that the frustration of seeing ghosts at every turn while he works a case that’s stalled in its tracks, and Rain is starting to wonder if second chances and happy endings are just for fairy tales.
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[personal profile] reviews_and_ramblings
The Druid Next Door (Fae Out of Water #2) E.J. Russell
Gay - Fantasy Romance
Series: Fae Out of Water (Book 2)
Paperback: 314 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (August 7, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626496226
ISBN-13: 978-1626496224
Amazon: The Druid Next Door (Fae Out of Water #2) E.J. Russell

Professor Bryce MacLeod has devoted his entire life to environmentalism. But how effective can he be in saving the planet when he can’t even get his surly neighbor to separate his recycling?

Former Queen’s Enforcer Mal Kendrick doesn’t think his life could get any worse: he’s been exiled from Faerie with a cursed and useless right hand. When he’s not dodging random fae assassins in the Outer World, he’s going toe-to-toe with his tree-hugging neighbor. And when he discovers that the tree hugger is really a druid, he’s certain the gods have it in for him—after all, there’s always a catch with druids. Then he’s magically shackled to the man and expected to instruct him in Supernatural 101.

All right, now things couldn’t possibly get worse.

Until a mysterious stranger offers a drunken Mal the chance to gain back all he’s lost—for a price. After Mal accepts, he discovers the real catch: an ancient secret that will change his and Bryce’s life forever.

Ah, what the hells. Odds are they won’t survive the week anyway.
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[personal profile] reviews_and_ramblings
Spun! (Shamwell Tales #4) J.L. Merrow
Bisexual - Romantic Comedy
Series: The Shamwell Tales (Book 4)
Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (March 6, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626495890
ISBN-13: 978-1626495890
Amazon: Spun! (Shamwell Tales #4) J.L. Merrow

With friends like these . . .

An ill-advised encounter at the office party leaves David Greenlake jobless and homeless in one heady weekend. But he quickly begs work from his ex-boss and takes a room in Shamwell with easygoing postman Rory Deamer. David doesn’t mean to flirt with the recently divorced Rory—just like he doesn’t consciously decide to breathe. After all, Rory’s far too nice for him. And far too straight.

Rory finds his new lodger surprisingly fun to be with, and what’s more, David is a hit with Rory’s troubled children. But while Rory’s world may have turned upside down in the last few years, there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s straight as a die. So he can’t be falling for David . . . can he?

Their friends and family think they know all the answers, and David’s office party hookup has his own plans for romance. Rory and David need to make up their minds and take a stand for what they really want—or their love could be over before it’s even begun.
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[personal profile] reviews_and_ramblings
Wake Up Call (Porthkennack #1) J.L. Merrow
Gay - Contemporary Romance
Series: Porthkennack
Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (January 9, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626495416
ISBN-13: 978-1626495418
Amazon: Wake Up Call (Porthkennack #1) J.L. Merrow

South London mechanic Devan Thompson has gone to Porthkennack to track down someone he’s been waiting all his life to know. But Dev’s distracted from his quest by Kyle, a broodingly handsome local of only a few months, who’s already got a reputation as an alcoholic because of his strange behaviour—including a habit of collapsing in the street.

Kyle Anthony fled to Porthkennack to escape from the ruins of his life. Still raging against his diagnosis of narcolepsy—a condition that’s cost him his job as a barrister, his lover, and all chance of normality—the last thing he wants is another relationship that’s doomed to fail. But Dev’s easygoing acceptance and adaptability, not to mention his good looks, have Kyle breaking all his self-imposed rules.

When disaster strikes Dev’s adored little sister, Kyle steps up to the plate, and Dev sees a side of his lover he wasn’t prepared for: competent, professional—and way out of Dev’s league. With one man determined that they don’t have a future and the other fearing it, life after Porthkennack is starting to look bleak for both of them.
penaltywaltz: (Sherlock: Molly - Grin)
[personal profile] penaltywaltz posting in [community profile] wipbigbang
Story Title: No More Regrets
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Link(s): AO3
Summary: Molly Hooper prefers a life limited to her teaching at King's College, the occasional consult for Scotland Yard and evenings with her cat and a good book, but her best mates think she should expand her horizons. On one of their regular "Let's get Molly a social life" nights, Molly meets a man who saves her from a sticky situation, but before she can get to know this Sherlock fellow any better she has to leave the pub. She thinks it's a fleeting "what might have been" moment, but Sherlock has other ideas about that.
Warnings: Mild non-graphic violence
Characters: Molly Hooper, Sherlock Holmes, Mary Morstan, Sally Donovan, John Watson, Greg Lestrade, Irene Adler, James Moriarty, Stella Hopkins & OMCs
Pairings: Sherlock Holmes/Molly Hooper, John Watson/Mary Morstan, Greg Lestrade/Sally Donovan
When I Started: May 19th, 2015
How I Lost My Shit: I actually had this plotted out once I hit chapter 19, and it seemed as though no matter what I did I couldn’t bring myself to write chapter 22. So that began the long hiatus for this fic.
How I Finished My Shit: Panic & pride. I have had the hell of a last few months (seriously, I think I’m cursed) and the closer the deadline got for the five days I had claimed where I had no new fics to show for it, I decided screw everything else, I was going to write and try and finish as many as I could. This was the first one I was able to finish, and it got a pretty good reception, so I was glad it ended up making people happy.

The truth has got its boots on

Aug. 20th, 2017 04:43 pm
elf: Computer chip with location dot (You Are Here)
[personal profile] elf
A scientific breakdown of the errors in Damore's manifesto - Metafilter discussed Damore's memo at length, until someone said, "I could write something about how wrong he is on all his biology claims," and people threw money at her Patreon until that happened.

It's terrific. It's also long and detailed and extensively cited, absolutely intended for quoting during future discussions where someone claims that the pay gap or glass ceiling or low representation of women in tech is caused by "biology."

She goes over his academic background, his argument methodology, and the actual science related to his claims, which - surprise surprise - involve incredible twists of misunderstanding, or cherry-picking data, or assuming that tests for personality traits can be used to confirm brain chemistry difference.
Sample excerpt inside the cut )
duskpeterson: Vacuum cleaner (vacuum)
[personal profile] duskpeterson posting in [community profile] retrohome
"I'm bone-tired. I rest up all day if I plan to work outside, and yesterday I rested and then spent two hours trimming down all the forsythia bushes on the right side of our driveway (side of garage) so that the vine on our tower shows and the bushes look neat. I also worked on the weeds next to the front door. Today I rested all day, but I was a bit more tense, because I don't think they'll get our new stove to us by tomorrow as they promised on Monday, and I told them it's a matter of an emergency. Our oven now just can't even be opened without everything falling apart! Anyway, I went out and trimmed the forsythia by the driveway entrance, moved the sprinkler all around the front lawn from 5 on every hour, vacuumed all of our sections of the basement, made very simple meals (we had breakfast morning and night!!), and cut dead branches and pulled easy weeds from between some of the bushes next to the back-side lawn near the highway. Doug mowed the last of the lawn, and tomorrow Keith S-- is going to rake the lawn. I'm trying to rest all the time, for I'm only going to dust and polish and maybe wash the fronts of the cabinets and the front of the refrig. before my mother and Lucille come on Sunday at 1:11."

--A post-surgery letter from my mother on a Thursday night in 1967.

This year for my birthday, at my request, my father and stepmother took Joe and me to visit an 18th-to-20th-century milltown, Jerusalem Mill. As my father and I were tramping back to the town's icehouse - which I was eager to see, having read about icehouses in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy - my father casually mentioned that he'd lived near a working icehouse when he was growing up.

My father grew up in the 1940s and 1950s, which gives a sense of how far back mid-twentieth-century rural American technology lagged from other parts of the country. (I just ran across an ad from World War Two which claimed that only one-third of American homes had bathtubs by that point.) My cultural memory doesn't go back that far. But I've seen iceboxes in the antique stores in this town, and a few years ago, I researched how iceboxes worked, in order to write a scene in which an 1890s character repaired one. I was left with a healthy respect for turn-of-the-century technology.

1900 icebox

A 1900 diagram of icebox plumbing (source). Iceboxes were more complicated than you would think.

My own cultural memory - where keeping food cold is concerned - begins with the early twentieth century, because when I lived in England in 1977, the house we stayed in had a refrigerator like the ones that appeared in early-twentieth-century American homes. The fridge was so small that it was tucked under the kitchen counter, and its freezer - just a little shelf hanging down over the next-highest shelf - was barely bigger than an ice cube tray.

1944 fridge

From a 1944 ad (source), which is trumpeting the fact that the freezer is now bigger than an ice cube tray. Note that the freezer is still a shelf at the top of the refrigerator.

I haven't yet run across any photos of the early fridges that our family owned - though, since our 1960 house in Greenbelt had color-coordinated pastel bathrooms, I'd love to think that we had one of those nifty pastel fridges of the time.

After I finished college in 1987 - and my parents were no longer paying my tuition every year - my mother splurged on a set of new kitchen appliances, including a Sears Kenmore refrigerator. When that fridge finally reached the end of its long life in 2011, I replaced it (after a considerable amount of research, because we had only a tiny 1960 kitchen space for it) with a fridge that had the freezer to the left side.

This turned out to be gloriously helpful, because, with the freezer to one side, there was no moisture in the fridge. No moisture meant that we didn't have to place our farmers market veggies in the produce shelf; we could place them in pots of water in the fridge that kept the veggies nice and crisp.

Old fridge

Our wonderful fridge in Greenbelt.

Then we moved to this apartment, and we're now stuck with a lousy landlord-chosen fridge. Oh, well.

At any rate, we can't blame our fridge for the latest mishap, which was a fridge door left open.

Empty fridge

Our not-so-wonderful current fridge, post-mishap, looking lonely for groceries.

After gnashing our teeth, we set about with the usual after-food-spoilage activities:

* Throw out any food that's dead.

* Throw out any food that's not dead but is expired.

* Realize that the bottles should be recycled. Fish out of the trash half the food we've already thrown out.

* Empty and wash the bottles.

* Realize that, even with the bottles removed from the trash, the trash bag is so heavy that it's likely to tear, so bring out the heavy-duty trash bags.

* Realize we only have three heavy-duty trash bags left.

* Somehow manage to distribute the heavy food between the three heavy-duty trash bags. Tote the bags downstairs to the dumpster.

* Somewhat woozy by this point, spontaneously decide to sort and wipe down the food cupboards . . . but that's another story.

* Realize that, with nearly all the food gone, it's the perfect time to clean the fridge.

All this took two days to accomplish, and after that, I had to go to the supermarket and replace food I'd just bought. But hey, I managed to get two housework items off my list: clean the fridge and sort the food cupboards.


Before I got to the grocery store, the farmers market food saved the day.

Last fortnight's shopping list )
The rest of last fortnight's homemaking )
This week's meals )
charlie_cochrane: (Default)
[personal profile] charlie_cochrane
Here's a little bit from the latest adventure for the Cambridge Fellows, Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour.

Orlando was quiet as they strode along the Madingley Road, brain clearly whirring under salt and pepper curls all the way back to their shared home, Forsythia Cottage.

“Lovely night for looking at the stars,” Jonty had ventured at one point, before giving up trying to produce a response. He could wait until they crossed their own threshold.

Once they were ensconced with steaming cups of cocoa, from a thermos their housekeeper had left them, and in front of a banked down fire suitable to the slight chill in the air, Orlando seemed ready to have a question or two posed.

“Interesting conundrum, eh?”

“It would be,” Orlando agreed, “were it anyone else but him involved.”

More excerpts at the Rainbow Snippets group.

2 outstanding pinch hits

Aug. 20th, 2017 01:26 pm
evil_plotbunny: (Default)
[personal profile] evil_plotbunny posting in [community profile] fic_corner
Please claim via pm or email to and include the ph number, recipient's AO3 user name and your AO3 user name. Please do not claim in the comments to preserve anonymity.

These pinch hits will now be due on 23 August at 11pm EDT. What time is that for me?

ETA: Pinch hit 4 has been claimed, Pinch hit 5 is still available

Pinch Hit #4: Claimed )

Pinch Hit #5: Captain Underpants Series - Dav Pilkey, Wayside School - Louis Sachar, The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster )

Handbook of Biological Statistics

Aug. 20th, 2017 11:23 am
mildred_of_midgard: (Doc)
[personal profile] mildred_of_midgard
Part of the reason I have not been immersing myself in science lately is that I'm currently trying to work my way through the Handbook of Biological Statistics, which is available for free online as a pdf. It's slow going, but definitely worth it, and I want to stay with it rather than get distracted.

When I started it, I didn't realize how exactly it was the book I needed to be reading right now. I had been struggling with a few aspects of trying to teach myself statistics. One is that most approaches are very theoretical, "let's derive some formulas" things, that might teach you *how* to perform a statistical test, but not *when* to. I thus constantly found myself wondering when I was supposed to use a t-test vs. a chi-square vs. Fisher, and baffled as to why none of my sources or online courses were explaining this.

I also have a difficult time following things that are pure derivations or proofs. It requires working in a linear fashion, bringing the utmost of your concentration to bear on each and every line, and actively working through the problem on your own. And every line is pretty much an equation, with no words, or else very confusing words just discussing the terms in the equation. And you're effectively screwed the moment you don't understand something--you won't be able to understand anything that comes after it.

I can understand math very well when someone explains it with words and I can ask questions, but if I have to stare at line after line of equations interspersed with occasional incredibly dry "it follows from X that Y," my eyes glaze over while I struggle to figure out exactly how it follows.

This is frustrating, because I actually really enjoy math. I was very good at math class, to the point where I got a math degree and was always at or near the top of my class, but I am extremely bad at teaching myself math. Some people apparently can do this; I can't. Or at least I haven't figured out yet what self-teaching approach works for me.

What I really wanted was something more conceptual, with lots of words, and fewer equations. To get started with--I'd like to progress to the equations eventually.

I also had a problem where all sources of statistical knowledge used more terms that I didn't know (even if I'd heard of them, I didn't have a firm grasp on their precise meaning) than I did, and any time I went to look them up, the definitions also used more terms that I wasn't familiar with than that I was. Ignotum per ignotius.

So the Handbook was a godsend. The intro opens by saying, "For most biologists, statistics is just a useful tool, like a microscope, and knowing the detailed mathematical basis of a statistical test is as unimportant to most biologists as knowing which kinds of glass were used to make a microscope lens." This is exactly where I wanted to start!

It is apparently, which I didn't realize when I started, a reference book explaining what statistical test to use under what circumstances. Every chapter opens with a sentence such as "Use Student’s t–test for one sample when you have one measurement variable and a theoretical expectation of what the mean should be under the null hypothesis." Hallelujah!

And the tone is very chatty and the examples memorable. For instance, "You might think that if you set up an experiment where you gave 10 guinea pigs little argyle sweaters, and you measured the body temperature of all 10 of them, that you should use the parametric variance and not the sample variance. You would, after all, have the body temperature of the entire population of guinea pigs wearing argyle sweaters in the world."

This is a good *intro* to statistics. If I work through it, maybe I'll be ready to move on to something more technical.

August 2017


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