Trip to the dog races

Oct. 22nd, 2017 08:58 pm
sasha_feather: Road and thunderheads (big sky)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
Yesterday I went with my new friends to see some Greyhound races in Dubuque, Iowa. We were curious what it'd be like as we are all greyhound owners (ours are retired racers).

Dubuque is an hour and a half away, a gorgeous drive through Wisconsin's "Driftless" area, where the glaciers didn't come through and plow down the hills like they did in other areas of the Midwest. So there are rollling hills and steep valleys, dotted with farms and forests.

The casino is right off the highway and easy to find. The greyhound race area is technically not part of the casino, so you can be under 21 to enter that area. Indeed, we saw kids and teenagers watching the races. It's nice that there is no fee to enter, and you don't have to bet. The only thing we spent money on was food. There was a crowded upper observation area, and we went down some stairs to the outside part. It was almost hot yesterday, 76 degrees F (24 C). The benches were shaded by the casino building and the track was in bright sunlight.

The dogs were beautiful and lively. We watched about 4 races, each 10-15 minutes apart. We didn't place any bets but picked out the ones we thought might win based on how they acted and looked. Teenagers (presumably summer workers) brought the dogs out and lined them up to be looked at before leading them to the starting blocks.

I took some pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sasha_feather/tags/dubuque/

We drove around town a little bit and had some ice cream before heading home.

My friends asked me, can you imagine your out here dog doing this?
I think Abbie would have hated it. She's so anxious and scared in environments that are loud and chaotic; her preferred environment is quiet and calm. She doesn't seem to have a competitive spirit.
My last dog, Sorcha, was a winner though, and I imagined she enjoyed it at least somewhat.

Racing is controversial and people often ask me what I think of it. I still don't know what I think of it! It was cool seeing the dogs run. I think that when gambling and money enter into it, they tend to corrupt. I don't think racing is inherently bad, but making it into a big business means the animals' welfare isn't put first.
green_knight: (Autumn)
[personal profile] green_knight
Rogues Ahoi )

Haven't discovered any new casual games if you discount the rogue-likes. Finding good casual games that are not mobile ports and crawling with monetisation and gamification is HARD.

Overall, I don't think rogue-likes work for me as a genre, even though I'm enjoying this one tremendously right now: I do not like losing everything I've worked for/fought for/found. I had a lot of fun right now with a weapon with knockback, - so very, very satisfying - and I would have loved to keep it.


Picoreviews )

Valley, with spoiler )

Cross of the Dutchman (with spoiler and youtube link; warning for advanced misogyny) )

Putting my cards on the table: the inherent sexism of Cross of the Dutchman means that while I may appreciate parts of it, I will never _like_ it. The game has burnt that bridge very thoroughly; but just because the game developers chose to build two sides - people for whom this game is meant to be (men) and people who are the butt of jokes (women) does not mean I cannot examine and learn from it. There are a lot of unusual choices in this game, which are worth studying, and worth considering how much they contribute to potential enjoyment (or not) of gameplay.

Gameplay Observations. With major story spoiler (or you could just read Wikipedia) )

Bonus reviewlet: Dinosaur Hunt

This is a first-person shooter I picked up for 57p on Steam. I don't like the genre as such - I WILL NOT shoot at people - but, well, dinosaurs... it was worth trying out.

You get dumped in the darkness. Something glows slightly, it's another weapon. You can pick it up. I then spent several minutes positioning myself and pressing keys and trying to pick it up until I eventually found the right angle.
'You had enough time, here comes the dinosaur'

Right. I look left, right centre, around me, up and down. I get killed. I repeated this several times - each time I was savaged by an invisible enemy - and deleted. Not worth my time.


Also not playing: VanHelsing. I have redownloaded the game in the very slim hope that it might have been fixed - I *LOVE* it, but I've given up complaining to the developers since their responses have been 'this error has been fixed, you cannot experience it' and 'so what' when I told them the game would no longer run. As a last resort, I can try to get it to run in emulation, and I might just get fed up enough to try that.


AM Playing: Civilisation 5. [personal profile] caper_est has been putting a fair few hours into this, and is currently playing a Middle-Earth mod which looks just *so* much fun.

I'll do another full post on this another time - this has gotten quite long, but I will say that I needed help to get into this, and have now logged 35 hours for my first proper game, and feel a lot more comfortable with it. In fact, I've made use of the MacGamestore $10 sale to grab all of the DLC (offer will also work on Windows, it's a Steam Code), so I can play some more, including - eventually - Middle Earth.

Err, expect fewer new games to be tried and rejected in November.

The power of grit

Oct. 22nd, 2017 03:50 pm
green_knight: (Determination)
[personal profile] green_knight
(Videogames are just the example here. This is not a gaming post as such. It's more about language, and how having mainly negative terms for a concept makes it hard to view it positively.)

Before I praise myself for the incredible staying power that led me to finish a video game (which I shall review, in detail, in another post), I have to admit that it was a short one: other players managed in two hours, it took me three; the moment of sticking it out came after around one hour. So the amount of willpower I would need was always fairly limited; we're not talking about the person who spent 93 hours learning to play Dota 2 (a brief venture into message boards brings up people who have played 800-1200 h and who still don't feel they're very good... that's one time-intensive hobby!)

I have, in the spirit of my previous post, invested half an hour into watching a beginner's introduction to Dota 2 and... no. Good luck to people who love this, but I will not even start.


This is a post where I try to get my thoughts in order in regard to sticking things out, giving up, and the things we invest time and willpower in.


What I learnt from sticking it out, and why I won't do it again )

In my mind, at least, going back to a game I do not care about again and again just so I could beat it wasn't worth it. And rather than going 'see? I can overcome these hurdles and develop the skills necessary to do this thing' and going 'ok, I'm going to reinstall [games a, b, and c that I gave up on recently]' I'm going 'I'm grateful I didn't slip into that _super-determined, sticking-my-lower-jaw-out, must-do-this-or-die_ mode for any of the others; I totally give myself permission to bail from future games even earlier if I'm not feeling the love.'

Maybe we need a more nuanced vocabulary. Which we have, it's just all jumbled up inside my head, so maybe I should start by defining them, because 'in the future, I'm going to give up sooner' does not sound like a very positive statement, so the next thing I'm going to do in this post is look at how we talk about the cluster of things you invest a lot of time in, sticking with something, and walking out.

An attempt at taxonomy )

I think most people - at least in theory/retrospect/from a distance - can tell the difference between these perfectly well: when something takes over your life (or all of your mental/physical energy), it becomes a negative force, even if it's a fun thing. Even if it's a selfless thing that helps others.


Which brings us to staying power and its opposite.

I found that when writing this post almost all of the terms - direct or metaphorical - I could come up with for continuing to invest time and energy into a situation were positive. I say this as the owner of a 'determination' icon which I often use to signify 'I will push through this, I will not give up, I will not let this beat me'.

But let's bring the last one back to gaming, for a moment, because that's bringing out the issue so very, very clearly: there is a school of video game design that tries to set players puzzles they cannot solve easily. You're pitching your skills against the guys (usually guys) who _created the bloody playing field_. As I see it, failing - or deciding that you don't want to play - is not anything to be ashamed of: if someone wants to beat you with a deck of their own construction, in a game of their own making, of course they can.

Over on captainawkward.com there are regular discussions about how to recognise that a situation isn't working for you - whether friendship, partnership, workplace - and moving on. (I really wish more people would divorce _while they still kind of liked each other_.)

Pulling the plug on a bad situation is a positive action, yet we have mainly negative words for it. Staying in a bad situation is, by definition, a bad action, yet English has plenty of ways to praise staying and very few negative terms for it.

I have twice in my life stuck things out when I should have walked away. Both times mildly abusive situations. At the end of the first, I walked away with the knowledge that I'd stuck things out and a borderline nervous breakdown; at the end of the second I walked away with nothing after all and a severe crash and having to rebuild my life from scratch over a very, very long time. Both times, quitting would have done me immense good - I would have been able to seek a better situation much, much sooner. There are a number of other situations I've walked away from, and came out slightly bruised but in much better fighting spirit; because knowing when you cannot change a situation and extracting yourself from it IS a positive action.





And yet. The only negative persistence term I could come up with is 'banging your head against a brick wall'; I'm still looking for a positive way to say 'I quit'.

The fact remains that persistence is not always a good trait: if you're in a bad (or even just meh) relationship, a dysfunctional workplace, or something that should give you joy makes you feel more stressed and less competent, then you should get out, cast off your shackles (which is not always easy), and start again.

Sometimes relationships need work (but that's another rant for another day), sometimes you cannot simply walk out of your job (then again, I've left a dysfunctional job, which led to me having to move out of my home and it was STILL the best decision I could have made!), sometimes work is boring and learning is hard or frustrating, but if you're trying to learn a complex skill and not feeling moments of success, you are probably not using the best method for you. Taking control over my learning in both programming and art has been the best thing I could have done; I was getting nowhere with 'how one should learn' or 'how everyone learns' and it would have been far too easy to give up and feel that I just had no talent at all... but I had to stop what I was doing in order to reflect and find something better to pour my energy into.

Orthodoxy in Oxford

Oct. 22nd, 2017 08:55 am
naraht: Orthodox church in Romania (art-RomaniaPantocrator)
[personal profile] naraht
One of the things that I loved most about Russia was being able to pass any random church – usually a beautiful Baroque church – and know that it was an Orthodox church. And the fact that there was usually a service going on, which meant that I could go in, light a few candles and stand for a few minutes to enjoy the architecture and the singing before going on with my sightseeing. (There's no expectation that you'll arrive on time, or indeed stay till the end, as long as you know the points of the service during which you're not meant to leave.)

Back in Oxford, I'm really missing it. I would go to church much more if it could be this simple - if I could just pop in between the farmer's market and the cafe as part of my weekend routine. In the week and a half I was in Russia, I went to more church services than I've been to in years. (Not to mention wore a headscarf more than I ever have... it was a good chance to use all the scarves I have lying around.)

Really I shouldn't complain. I know there are places, like in the American South, where you have to drive for hours to get to an Orthodox church. I grew up in a town with one, and I've just discovered that we have four here in Oxford, not two as I'd originally thought.

• the Greek Orthodox/Russian Orthodox one, the oldest Orthodox church in Oxford and the home of Kallistos Ware, which is unfortunately a long walk from my house
• the other Russian Orthodox church (Patriarchate of Moscow), which is also a bit of a hike
• a Romanian Orthodox church
• an Indian Orthodox church (Malenkara Orthodox Syrian)

Whether or not I manage to get off my couch within the next half an hour to go to church this morning, I must definitely plan to visit the latter two sometime - particularly the last, as I've never been to an Oriental Orthodox church before. We shall see...

ETA: I ended up going to the other Russian church, which I hadn't visited before in its new home, and turns out to be only 20 minutes walk. Not too bad.
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Politico: Young subscribers flock to old media

What's particularly fascinating is the way in which it's directly correlated with people wanting to support news organizations as a way to resist Trump:

“The big boost we saw in subscriptions in the U.S.,” Newman said, “is driven by people on the left and younger people are more likely to be on the left. That is really a lot of what’s driving it: young people who don’t like Trump who subscribe to news organizations that they see as being a bulwark against him.”

Keep up the good work!

see icon: PRIMAL SCREAM

Oct. 21st, 2017 07:58 pm
yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
[personal profile] yhlee
I asked Machineries of Tarot what my prognosis was for writing today using the Vidona spread:

Deuce of Gears
A cog in the machine. Pawn of powers beyond your control.

AUGGGGGGGGGGGGH

(Yes, Jedao was being snarkastic when he chose it for his emblem.)

Also, I love my catten but...she's not very bright? She likes to sit on the ping pong table and will remain sprawled on it when the Dragon and I start up a game. The ball hits her in the leg, she remains sprawled. It took the next ball hitting her in the snout for her to skitter-kitter off the table. *facepalm*

That's not the part where she's not very bright. The part where she's not very bright is that she was on the ping pong table during a game yesterday and got hit in the snout by a ball then, causing her to skitter-kitter off the table. You would think she'd figure out that ping pong game in progress = don't sprawl on the table waiting to be hit in the snout?

Back to work...

[ObMeme]

Oct. 21st, 2017 07:24 pm
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
[personal profile] yhlee
From Facebook.

Four things, etc. Read more... )

Back to work...

My FemslashEx story

Oct. 21st, 2017 05:18 pm
rachelmanija: (Buffy: I kind of love you)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I had tons of fun with FemslashEx, and highly recommend browsing the archive.

My recipient was [personal profile] iknowcommawrite aka Scioscribe, who wrote me two lovely Treats last Yuletide! FemslashEx allows prompts for original fiction, and this is the prompt I wrote for:

Female Revolutionary/Princess

Class issues, identity porn, loyalty kink, and compromised principles: hell yeah. I think ideally I would like this one in a fantasy world, but I’m open to other possibilities. I’d love to see about any variation on this I could think of. Is the revolutionary undercover in the palace, getting ready to overthrow the monarchy while falling for the princess? Is the princess on the run from the revolution, disguising herself, and falling in amongst the rebels? Do either of them begin to rethink their principles or their policies? Is the revolutionary agitating in the open, and the princess is intrigued by her radical ideas? Other things I’m totally here for: wearing a crown while being thoroughly debauched by a revolutionary, hurt/comfort, kneeling, undressing from gowns and corsets, and virgin princess/experienced revolutionary.

Isn't that great? I found it very inspiring.

I wrote Burn, an epistolatory exercise in Ultimate Identity Porn. The revolutionary hides her face to conceal her identity. The princess silences her voice to preserve her purity. They know each other. And they don't...
rydra_wong: Text: BAD BRAIN DAY. Picture: Azula, having one. (a:tla -- bad brain day)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
which I have been hiding from for nearly a year owing to its close temporal (and partially causal) association with my major mood dip at the start of the year.

Because I am in no way MASSIVELY AVOIDANT or anything, no why would you think that.

I will accept praise and validation.

[Daily happiness]

Oct. 21st, 2017 12:20 am
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
[personal profile] oyceter
1. Was in Berkeley for a conference, and it was nice to be around campus again!

2. Had braised meat rice for lunch, then got pastries from the Chinese bakery and pearl milk tea, yum. And the lunch place was playing Cpop and made me slightly homesick for Taiwan.

3. Watched The Snake Prince, a Shaw Brothers movie, with CB and [personal profile] jhameia and it is... quite a thing. Let's just say there was much more disco music and dancing than I had expected.

The Good Place 2.1-2.5

Oct. 20th, 2017 11:49 pm
yhlee: (AtS no angel (credit: <user name="helloi)
[personal profile] yhlee
spoilers )

It's funny--I adore this show but declined to request it for Yuletide. Besides it being a highly jossable canon, what I really want is bona fide philosophy neepery, and I'm pretty sure 99% of the fandom wants to write about relationships. There's plenty of shipfic I would read for this fandom, but I really really want philosophy neepery. And, I mean, 2.5 was basically my Platonic ideal in terms of episode content.

The Frightening Friday Five

Oct. 20th, 2017 02:13 pm
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Default)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
https://thefridayfive.dreamwidth.org/73063.html

What book frightened you as a young person?
None I can remember.

If you had to become a ‘living book’ (i.e. able to recite the contents of a book cover to cover upon request – reference Fahrenheit 451), what book would it be?
To Be of Use by Marge Piercy, poetry

What movie or TV show scared you as a kid?
The Outer Limits. I’d watch with my older sister and she told me when it was safe to lower my hands from my eyes.

What movie (scary or otherwise) will you never ever watch?
Silence of the lambs et seq

Do you have any phobias?
Centipedes, millipedes, and other Myriapodae make me recoil and squeal a little.

starlady: Peggy in her hat with her back turned under the SSR logo (agent carter)
[personal profile] starlady
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017), dir. Angela Robinson
I loved this film so much and I'd bet that almost everyone reading this will love it too. Based on the real-life story of the creator of Wonder Woman and his wife and their partner, the movie has been winning deserved praise for its respectful portrayal of a poly love story, as well as its exploration of exploring kink and BDSM in a relationship. The story of Bill Marston, Elizabeth Marston and Olive Byrne is fascinating, and Robinson leaps off the agreed-upon documentary record to make it a full-on romantic trio, with Elizabeth and Olive's sexual relationship being just as important and real as either woman's relationship with Marston. Despite all that, however, the film is mostly inexplicit; Robinson is far more focused on the depiction of relationships through the way people look at each other than through body parts. It is, in other words, extremely female gaze, and very sexy. I would happily have watched another hour of the movie, particularly as the latter half gets into the challenges of queer parenting in a homophobic society in a way I wasn't expecting, but the movie's conventional structure means that there's only so much time. Still, it was wonderful, and all the actors were great. Go see it.

The Princess & the Frog (2009)
Disney's last traditionally animated feature film, its first featuring a black princess, and probably the only Disney princess movie I hadn't seen. I liked the story of Tiana and her feckless prince, and from my admittedly inexpert position it seemed like the non-white characters were largely depicted in a positive manner. The story is sweet, but it owes so much to Shrek, it's kind of painful, and the thing that really struck me is that even as Disney put a lot of effort into moving beyond racist stereotypes in its depiction of the non-white characters, they were unwilling or incapable of to get beyond lazy stereotypes and fatphobic tropes in their depictions of villains and fat people. (I was also interested to see that the dupe villain gets a British accent, since the movie being set in New Orleans means that Disney was unable to rely on its main vocal stereotyping strategy of having the villains speak in Southern accents.) All of which is to say, there's ultimately no comparison between this movie and some of Disney's more recent successes.

happy music

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:32 pm
yhlee: Texas bluebonnet (text: same). (TX bluebonnet (photo: snc2006 on sxc.hu))
[personal profile] yhlee
Because today has been a Day for uninteresting reasons, I present to you a song that makes me happy: Anne Murray's "I Just Fall in Love Again" [Youtube].

(I'm Texan. I grew up on country, okay? ^_^)

Feel free to link to Youtube versions of songs that make you happy! I expect yours are less mushy than mine. ^_^
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Default)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
My iPad is always within reach, but it doesn't have cellular service. Could I get a mobile hotspot and use it as a phone?
more details )

My long-delayed trip

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:12 am
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Two years ago, I meant to go to Japan in November. And then I had the most horrible two years of my entire life, and the trip was shelved.

I'm going to Japan in November! I'll be there for two weeks, divided between Tokyo, Kyoto, and Fukuoka. The last is a city further south than I've been before, with some very pretty day trips.

I'm going to use AirBnb, which I also haven't used before, but it looks pretty great. I have two lovely apartments all to myself for cheaper than a hotel room would be, and one room in a house with a lady who cooks breakfast, has a friendly toy poodle named Piccolo, and says understatedly, "I am a former hotelier who worked in the five star hotel. I think I can assist you well during your stay."

Any of you done anything fun in Japan?

Such a good dog!

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:27 am
jesse_the_k: those words in red on white sign (be aware of invisibility)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
Thanks to [personal profile] rushthatspeaks for the link to a marvelous story about the Santa Rosa fire:

https://modernfarmer.com/2017/10/guard-dog-wouldnt-leave-goat-flock-california-fires-lived-tell-story/

A goat-herding dog refused to leave his goat flock -- and they made it it through the fire, and even enlarged the flock by a couple of deer fawns.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
Last night, I bolted out of a dead sleep at a little after 11 because the landline was ringing. I run downstairs, but let it go to the answering machine, which is basically a reflex at this point. No message.

I then look at my phone, because grabbing that when I wake up in the middle of the night is absolutely a reflex (though the Pip sleeps much, much better these days!) . . . and it was me. The cell had someone dialed the landline. [*]

I post this story elsewhere, and literally seconds later, I get the punchline )

[*] On reflection, it wasn't that late, so I think I fell asleep with the phone still on in my hand and touched it enough to keep the screen awake, until eventually I randomly dialed home. I checked, I hadn't made any other outgoing calls, at least.

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