tablesaw: Charlie Crews, in a dark suit, rests his head on his left hand (That's Life)
I really wish i were better at typing on my phone because i can't sleep but i don't want to get a laptop while I'm in bed.
tablesaw: Gaff, from <cite>Blade Runner</cite> (Gaff)
I saw Maxine Waters on Saturday, and started a writeup on Sunday, and I came back to finish it on Wednesday, and it all seems so quaint.

It was going to be matter-of-fact and informational, but I can't even deal with that now.

On Friday, I was feeling super stressed about politics, and getting out into the community and hearing my new Congressperson talk frankly about the appalling nature of the current administration, including calls for investigation and impeachment, was heartening.

I was really hoping for that feeling to last for at least a workweek, but nope.

Anyway, the Town Hall was held in Inglewood, representing the core of Waters' district demographic: mostly Black, with some Latino. There were less than a handful of pro-Trump protestors, who got loud and then quickly left, presumably after they got the shot they felt they needed for their YouTube video. The session was mostly informational, with an extremely limited Q&A at the end.

Key points were healthcare, housing, and the incompetence of the administration. Most of the healthcare stuff I knew, but I hadn't been aware of all of the ways federal funding affected local efforts to combat the housing shortage in Los Angeles. Waters also brought a member of the Los Angeles Times editorial board to discuss the paper's recent series Our Dishonest President, and she spent time detailing the unqualifications of several administration members and cabinet appointees, including racism, sexism, inexperience, and foreign influence.

I know that Waters has been getting national attention for having a consistent anti-Trump message since the primaries, as I've been seeing her in tweets and comments from friends far away from the district. In her closing speech, she seemed not only cognizant of the issues facing young Americans of color, but excited to help amplify those concerns.
tablesaw: A stick-figure person walking in a carefree manner. The caption reads, 'Haters gonna make some good points' (Haters)
I wanted to get some recreational coding done today, but that didn't happen. A few other things did, though.

Household things: I put up a new curtain rod for the blackout curtains in our bedroom, and did some lawn maintenance in the front yard. After initiating some mowing two weeks ago, last week's trip meant that a lot of progress got wiped away. More weed whacking and mowing have it looking okay, but still not great. In the backyard, [personal profile] temptingcuriosity has asked for the dandelions to be harvested for greens, so I'm going to continue with that tomorrow.

I found my copy of Sad Pictures for Children. It's such a strange artifact now. It's the printing of a webcomic that's been wiped from the web, and which may or may not have narrowly escaped being burned by the author after printing. But it's so beautiful. At this point it's one of the most difficult things to get that I own.

I also grabbed a copy of one of my Doom Patrol TPBs and read a bit of that.

When I settled down to code, I made the mistake of putting Cowboy Bebop on as "background." It was totally not background. It's still an incredible show, and I haven't watched it in a while, so it completely dominated my attention.

We watched the new Doctor Who, which I liked, and the finale of Bates Motel, which I also liked.

My impulse is to try to wrap this up with something I've learned, but striving for meaning in simple communication is one of the things that keeps me from posting anything.

If you don't like it, scroll past!
tablesaw: -- (Default)
Over the weekend, [personal profile] temptingcuriosity and I drove up to Yosemite for a long weekend. We had made plans for her birthday, but it was also Earth Day, and the park was free admission, which was a pleasant surprise. Only the valley-floor roads were open, due to lingering snow, but the waterfalls we visited were magnificent (in no small part due to the same snow). We were hoping to see some sequoias, but they were either beyond closed roads or in areas closed for preservation.

The trip was a good reset button for work. In the earlier part of the month, I was once again struggling to solve problems caused by nebulous interactions with code not fully under my control. My coworker and I had delivered a solution to the problem a few days before I left, but the stress didn't quite abate until the long weekend. Now, I'm feeling a little more relaxed at work, on the one hand, but I'm also noticing that I've stayed late by accident pretty much every day this week, so I need to keep an eye on that as well.

After a recommendation from [twitter.com profile] ellaguro, I've been listening to Engravings, by Forest Swords. I'm looking forward to listening to more of their music.
tablesaw: An indigenous American crucified on a cross crowned by a bald eagle. In the background stands a Mesoamerican temple. (América Tropical)
For Christmas this year, I started asking for DVDs of films that were a bit harder to find. From my wife, I received Agnes Varda in California, a Criterion box set that includes Mur Murs. From my parents, I received The Exiles, which I watched tonight.

The Exiles is about the lives of young American Indians living in Downtown Los Angeles around 1960. The director collaborated with the cast of the film, who recreated scenes from "typical" nights, which coalesce into a single night for the story of the film.

It's noted as a document of Los Angeles history: much of the action takes place in portions of the city that literally do not exist any more. Bunker Hill, at the time a neighborhood of people working in downtown, was razed and rebuilt as office spaces. Hill X, where the characters gather in cars to dance, sing, fight, and generally escape the city, was also leveled to make way for Dodger Stadium. The movie palaces of Broadway exist mostly as neglected facades.

But mostly what I thought about, watching the young men and women meeting in diners, bars, and movie theaters, I think about my dad, who grew up in Los Angeles at about the same time. He would have been in his early teens, and already living on the Westside, pretty far from downtown. But Bunker Hill (and, of course, Chavez Ravine) were filled with Chicanos. And the unselfconsciousness of the filming makes it feel like I'm looking into places where my father or his cousins could have been.

I think I'm going to lend this back to my parents to see what my dad has to say about it.
tablesaw: Tablesaw (Thin Manual)
I spent most of this weekend at Gallifrey One, but today was a day to catchup on housework, and it provided some new victories. We were supposed to get the washer and dryer installed today, but they delivery people couldn't do everything for us. The previous owner's washer and dryer had left some depressions in the floor that they didn't want to put the new appliances into, and the dryer vent wasn't properly attached. So much of today was spent going to Home Depot, getting a properly sized piece of plywood for the washer and dryer to set on, installing a new dryer vent and connecting the dryer to it.

Every time we take on a new task, it takes longer than we expect because I freak out and overresearch trying to be certain I understand all the parts. But so far I've been pretty successful. An earlier victory was in understanding what sort of wall anchors we need because our walls are plaster, not drywall. But with that knowledge, I installed a new shower rod and a few towel racks today in short order.

Over and over, I thank my theatre education. Set construction provides some great life skills. Hopefully I'll get some time to resurrect my costume-construction skills too.
tablesaw: "Tablesaw Techniques" (Techniques)
Today, I got help from my sister's family to empty out our storage space. My tiny nieces didn't carry much, but they helped with morale. Everything's moved into our garage, now, and in the process, I was reunited with boxes and boxes of books that I've been away from. We still need to find shelves for many of those books to go on, but it's good to have them close. Every time I checked a box, I found books I was glad I still had: a book of Pirandello plays, fanfic written by Nichelle Nichols, the MW Dictionary of Usage. Everything fit in so nicely, and it's wonderful seeing the garage look so homely.

So everything is moved in, in the sense that all of our things are here, but we're still fixing things up. We're still getting the cabinets spruced up, so we can finish getting the kitchen together, and we need to deal with some doors that aren't closing right. But something about owning a house is resurfacing my set-construction carpentry skills, and I'm getting excited about fixing things. There are some jobs that seem a bit too big/time-consuming to tackle, so we'll still have someone over to help with getting some new rain gutters, but we'll be putting in a medicine cabinet on our own, and shelving to come.
tablesaw: "This sounds like Waiting for Spy Godot" (Hunt)
On Thursday, I came home from work and suddenly felt exhausted. I collapsed into bed feeling nauseous, and later in the evening, I was threw up. My wife's had a crud for a while, and I was worried I caught whatever she had; but I bounced back quickly over the next two days, so I think it must have been more of a food-poisoning thing.

I woke up on Friday in time to watch the Hunt Kickoff for a Dungeons and Dragons theme, Monsters et Manus. I kept expecting to fall asleep again, but the puzzles were fantastic and kept me going all day. I was still kinda weak, but staying in bed solving puzzles on a laptop was just my speed.

This year, there were a more than the usual number of puzzles where I came in after other folks had done most of the work and spotted the answer phrase. I did it for our first meta, The Despondent Dynast, and then our second meta, The Fighter. I also did it, amazingly, for our last meta, The Broken Bridge. After explaining my reasoning on why we should try this guess while we still had clues going, I wrote:
Tablesaw-XPS (Sat 23:12:55): Not the strongest, but I wanted to throw it out.
Tablesaw-XPS (Sat 23:13:02): It's not the weakest either.
Tablesaw-XPS (Sat 23:13:22): Anyway, I have to get pizza and didn't want it bugging me.
Tablesaw-XPS (Sat 23:13:27): TABLESAW OUT!
After getting pizza and returning to chat, the team was on its way to the final interaction and runaround.

Puzzles where the opposite happened included Boston Burgers (where I got tripped up on the extraction), and Changing Rooms (an excellent cryptic-clue based puzzle that I just started falling asleep during). I'm most proud of my gruntwork for Tricky Wicket, which turned out to be one of the most difficult puzzles in the Hunt. I spotted the gimmick and did a lot of work getting all the data collected, but was very grateful when I called in some teammates and one of them spotted the important messages I had missed. (She also was able to use the a key technique correctly when I was flailing).

The Hunt was really incredible, all around. Recommended puzzles are:
tablesaw: Close crop on Brock Samson's I'm-gonna-kill-you face. (Brock Samson)
The office shut down for the last week of the year, and I spent almost all of it at home, sleeping far too late, and playing videogames. It was perfect.

There's been a lot of stress in the last month. We're buying a house, the national political landscape continues to shift, and there was friends and family to visit in and out of town. We tried to cut down on extra stresses (this was the first time in my life I didn't decorate a Christmas tree, and we abandoned plans to travel to Boston for the Mystery Hunt), but it was still tough.

In addition to all this, I've been stuck on some intractable problems at work, which had been decimating my "agile velocity" and generally demoralizing me. I knew I was getting burned out, but I knew the winter break was coming, so I held out.

Now that I'm on the other side of the break, I can tell how stressed I was and how direct the solution is.

I'd already noticed some changes, since transitioning from general office work to programming. One was that I have been doing a lot less puzzling since problem-solving became my job. Another is that I haven't had as much time for leisure during workday downtime. I never really felt like I *needed* a vacation, so I saved up time (non-salaried) and felt fine. Even at my last job—programming with friends on a team, taking long convivial lunches—I got to dispense with a lot more stress than I realized.

So I'm trying to hold on to the change I feel between now and two weeks ago to remember to take the sustained time off. Even if there's nowhere I need to travel to. Because, while I hope to end up in another workplace with more day-to-day destressing, I'm probably not going to want a less-demanding job any time soon.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
Not fully setting in, but probably yeah.
tablesaw: Two yellow roses against a bright blue sky. (Family Roses)
I can't yet say all I want to say, but I learned this morning that [personal profile] tam_nonlinear is dead.

I knew her from LJ from over a decade ago, but like many LJ/DW contacts, I wasn't in touch as much for a while. I would occasionally see the updates on DW about her garden, her cats, and her clinic-escort volunteering. She was one of the people I was hoping to get in contact with again.

Her family has asked for donations to be made to the Washington Area Clinic-Defense Task Force.

Archdick

Nov. 10th, 2016 06:32 pm
tablesaw: Benito Juarez holds up a neon sign that says "GET OUTTA MY COUNTRY ARCHDICK" (Archdick)
Man, I forgot about some of these great icons, too.
tablesaw: Futurama's Robot Devil, El Diablo Robotico (El Diablo Robotico)
(This is a dear author letter for Lost Library the 2015 iteration of [community profile] invisible_ficathon. This time, we're not writing fanfiction for fictional texts, we're writing the texts themselves, so I'm addressing myself to the archivist who will merely be retrieving these wholly accurate and canon excerpts

In general, I prefer gen, meta, but above all else, I'm a fan of pastiche. So strive for "accuracy" of tone in the "original" and its fictional world, and the content itself is unlikely to make a difference to me.)


Dear Lost Librarian:

Thank you for taking the time to locate, prepare, and present these hard-to-find works of art. I've given some notes regarding what I'm looking to find. Please include any contextual notes you feel appropriate as an archivist, but I would prefer if such commentary is clearly indicated, as I am not intimately familiar with the works in question.

A Perfect Vacuum
Gigamesh

Lem describes aspects of the novel, but the watchwords are "commentary" and "hubris" If you choose to present entirely commentary/footnotes, while leaving the text upon which it comments nonextant (or merely vanishingly small) I would be incredibly happy.

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Dixon Hill (series)

Noir and pulp and pulp and noir. The 30s-40s time frame and the title "The Big Goodbye" give a strong indication that Hill is more similar to Chandler's Marlowe than Hammett's Spade, but any similar period feel is going to be acceptable. Obviously, Picard's holonovels are an adaptation of the original Dixon Hill stories. Though I was original expecting stories or novel excerpts from the original printed fiction, excerpts from any subsequent adaptations would be acceptable as well, as long as they are true to the spirit and character of the originals.

And as always, I would appreciate any excerpt that includes Haircut Lipinsky.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Daddy's Boy (film), Spiderman Too: 2 Many Spidermen (play)

I am a big music lover, so please be sure to include the full lyrics of at least two songs: a big production number, and a lesser-known song. Obviously that it's hard to make an excerpt meet the word count with just lyrics, so feel free to include libretto, stage directions, screenplays, etc.

Mass Effect
Blasto (film series)

I've seen most of the Blasto films several times, so I'd like to see something from the now-hard-to-find Blasto Saves Christmas!. Also, if you have access to any of the Blasto screenplays written after Shepard did that thing that ended the war with the Reapers and changed the universe irrevocably, I'd like to see what effect it had on the Blasto films.

Steven Universe (Cartoon)
Space Train to the Cosmos (Album)

Again, I'd like to see full lyrics to at least two of Mr. Universe's seminal work. In addition, I'd appreciate any contemporary excerpts related to the album, like liner notes, reviews, promotional materials, or outtakes from session recordings.
tablesaw: A young Shawn Spencer learns proper saw technique from his dad. (Cartoon)
When I was laid off from my last job, and I settled in to relearn programming, a friend told me not to think of it as learning to be a programmer: Programmers are always learning; at some point, you just call yourself a programmer.

Today, I approached the app I've been building with a specific goal (writing tests for the basic framework of the app thus far). I got started in the morning, I worked for a few hours, I got frustrated and grabbed some lunch, I went back to work, and when I finished it was evening, and I'd met my goal.

I didn't necessarily do it well, but I did it consistently, and I'm going to do it again tomorrow.

So starting today, I'm calling myself a programmer.

Now to get much, much better at it.
tablesaw: -- (Real1)
Short version:

I've been laid off again, and I'd like help taking a month or so catching up with technology and programming, most likely with the goal of starting a new career, but also for my own fulfillment.

OK—deep breath—let me elaborate.

At the beginning of February, everyone in my department was called into a room at the same time despite being in offices across the country, and we were informed that our department was being outsourced. This has happened before. The last time it happened, I ended up working temp assignments pretty much immediately, and I worked continuously (though at temp-job salary) for about a year, when I got a permanent position. It was a good permanent position with a good salary, but everything's come around again, and my last day of work is on Friday.

I've been putting off planning what I'm going to do next, because up until last week, I'd been busy planning a wedding (mine, yeah, happened last week, sorry I didn't mention it here). But now, satisfactorily wedded, I'm turning my attention to the empty days ahead, and what I need right now is a lot of help.

See, I know that if I wanted to, I could go back to the placement agencies and go through the same cycle again, but because I do a pretty niche administrative job, outsourcing seems eternally inevitable. And it's not a job I particularly enjoy; the thing it had most to recommend itself was stability, and it's clearly lost that. I'm looking toward something new.

I'm skirting around this paragraph, because it feels like I'm giving into cliche. I want to get into programming!!!1! That's the hot new thing, right? I was at this pool party and a man leaned over and whispered into my ear, "Programming," and now I'm going to do something on the World Wide Web!

But it's more than that. I started programming when I was six, but I stopped in college when I shifted focus to arts and performance to help ease my growing depression. And as time went on, I fell more and more out of sync with things. The world became plug-and-play, and I got complacent. Through it all, I missed programming, but felt like I never had the time to bring my programming expertise literally out of the twentieth century. I know how to code, I just don't really know anything to code in any more.

The last time I was laid off, a friend encouraged me to shift to web development, and I was just about to start looking at Rails, but the temp work came in fast, and I let it all slide. I don't want that to happen again, so I'm telling the placement agency that I'm taking a month for myself to learn new skills. I've got a cushion from the severance package, so I don't need to worry about income immediately, certainly not for a month. So I'm looking at April, at least, as a catch-up month.

And now, I get around to the help. I am friends with lots of very smart people in all areas of technology and programming (psst, that's you), and I'm hoping that I can both get lots of help, but also spread that amongst a bunch of you, so I don't feel like I'm leaning too hard on anyone. Some things I'd like to hear your thoughts about right now:
  • What sort of programming should I be looking at doing? As I said above, I have a good friend who's pushing me strongly into doing webdev, which seems promising. But I know I have firends (who don't see me every week for gaming) in other fields who might want to stump for their own specialties. Any thoughts?
  • What references/manuals do you recommend? I'd like to get any books I should look for sooner rather than later.
  • What sort of technology am I going to need? I've got a cheap, basic prebuilt desktop computer that I bought at Staples five years ago. It has been intimated that I might need a laptop or something stronger.
But knowing myself, I think these next two are the most important:
  • What sorts of challenges can I set up for myself to drive learning?
  • Can I bug you for help and encouragement?
I know that I learn best when I can apply techniques to a specific problem, and it's hard for me to invent those out of thin air. And I'm always a little anxious about making direct contact with folks, so knowing that it's okay will help a lot.

I don't really know what's going to come of all of this. It's possible that at the end of all of this, I'm going to go back to doing the same kind of job, or shift to an administrative IT position, but I just want to feel like I'm caught up with everything.

Thanks for everything.
tablesaw: A stick-figure person walking in a carefree manner. The caption reads, 'Haters gonna make some good points' (Haters)
Being kept awake tonight by the fear of economic collapse destroying the veneer of middle class lifestyle I'm currently enjoying.
tablesaw: A stick-figure person walking in a carefree manner. The caption reads, 'Haters gonna make some good points' (Haters)
I'm not even done with this article and I already want to blog about it. Well, mostly I just want to blog. Well, mostly I want to put something on my DW. (And a little bit I want to play Spelunky.)

I've been thinking about blogging vs. Twitter for a little bit. I've been aware that there are lots of aspects of Twitter that make me quieter on it. Obviously, there's the length restrictions, which I react to pretty strongly. I find it hard to make statements that comprise more than one tweet. But there's also the speed of tweet/retweet/response (Tumblr has a similar cycle), which I just have a hard time keeping up with. But there's an also an issue of time and speed. I also know that it will add to my blog's accruing history (which I see is going to become important in the part of the article I am still getting to).

As I said, I'm still working my way through Vance's article, but the portion about form and content as regards Twitter polarized me on that matter, highlighting the exploitative structure of its form. One of those things is the way that Twitter is obsessively focused on the "now".
Consider all the reasons why our intrepid capitalists of yesteryear replaced the (almost) timeless Holy Bible with a newspaper whose time is always the present; consider the political redefinition of 'content' to mean consumable rather than everlasting. A Tweet™ spends no more than a day or two in public view before vanishing into a database somewhere. Once our Tweet™ has been consumed and forgotten we make another and another, never Tweeting™ the same thing twice without dedicating 5 characters to an apologetic "ICYMI" (in case you missed it). The 'form' of Twitter, like that of the newspaper, demands a constant stream of new things to bury all the old ones.
On Twitter (and Tumblr), I do feel that pressure of having to put forward quantity a quantity of "content" that's more than I can really sustain in order to have a "presence." And as a result, existing on those sites makes me feel like a ghost, passive. Writing on a blog—my blog—give me a sense of place, and also lets me slow things down to my own speed.

There's also the fact that Dreamwidth remains a noncommercial open-source system, which I can depend on to stay relatively true to its mission statement (though there are, of course, ways that the structure still affects how I write). It just feels like a more comfortable place to be right now, even if I don't think anybody's going to be around to read it. (He says, knowing that once he posts this, links to it will be posted on Twitter, Tumblr, Livejournal, etc.)

Big Day

Jun. 14th, 2014 11:36 am
tablesaw: -- (Default)
Not sure who's checking this anymore, since I have been having scattered posting issues, but:

I'm going to propose to [personal profile] temptingcuriosity tonight.

Posting in the only place I can reliably limit access.

We already have talked this out. She designed the ring with a jeweler, and we've already got a deposit on a wedding venue (3/14/15).

But tonight's when I "officially" ask.

Going to go to the Griffith Park Observatory around sunset.

(Public now. She said yes.)
tablesaw: The Mexican Murder Rock from <cite>Warehouse 13</cite> (Mexican Murder Rock!)

I'm trying to write a thing about stereotypes, but it's hard because I haven't been writing for a while. While procrastiresearching, I started asking my (non-Latina) girlfriend whether she thought "Mexicans love Morrissey" was a stereotype. She had never heard anything like that. She wanted to know, in response, whether "Mexicans love Mariachi music" was a stereotype.

What I'm trying to get at (in the other piece, the one I'm still not writing) is the way in which stereotypes aren't generalizations, but ideological statements that justify the hierarchical positions of different social groups. "Mexicans are lazy" and "Mexicans are hard-working" are contradictory, but each works to justify Latin@s being stuck in labor-intensive jobs without promotional paths in the United States. But "Mexicans love Mariachi music" doesn't quite get at that directly.

What I wanted to say didn't quite crystallize until I saw Bankuei's post/tweets:

Marginalized folks are punished for their cultural markers, appropriators are rewarded for using other folk’s cultural markers.

It really doesn’t even matter WHAT the thing is being appropriated, it’s really about appropriating as a means of reinforcing the power structure about WHO is allowed to take and WHO is expected to be taken from.

"Cultural marker" was precisely the concept I was looking for. It's not just that Mariachi is a form of music from Mexico, it's that it's one of the cultural markers used in the United States to stand in for "Mexican/Latin@/Spanish-Speaking Brown Person", along with "cactus," "sombrero," "poncho," "tequila," "mustache," and "Cinco de Mayo." In fact, if you're looking for the cultural markers for Latin@, just go to a "Cinco de Mayo" "celebration" by white people, and you'll see "Mexican" neatly packaged. Identifying any of those trite markers is a reminder of how Mexican culture is marginalized by its differences, and various other Latino cultures are erased through homogenization. "Mexicans love Morrissey" doesn't fit anywhere on that ideological map of the dominant group.

But "Mexicans love Morrissey" still feels kind of stereotypy to me; why would that be? Well, looking at my own definition, it must have an ideological grounding that resonates with me. Perhaps that's because I'm also a Mexican-American who also likes Morrissey and listened to him in high school.(It also clearly resonates with others, like Rio Yañez, whose graphic is at the top of this post, and has used Morrissey as a muse several times.) And it is ideological, it runs counter to (or at least parallel to) the status quo.

I don't know that there's quite a word for that kind of non-dominant stereotype. They're around, but they don't get reproduced by the dominant culture in the same way, and you're not going to hear about them unless you're part of a group, or at least have actual positive interaction with that group. "Black don't crack" strikes me as one as well (with revolutionary messages of both beauty and resilience).

I don't have an ending, so here's a clip of Matt Smith comparing a Japanese fighter to Eeyore and Morrissey.

Rio Yañez draws Matt Smith imagining Eeyore and Morrissey with a sword.

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