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November update; December goals

Days written: 28/30
Words written: 9,963
Words to date in 2016: 101,395 (that's right -- I finally broke 100k)
Words of fic written: 5,702
Stories worked on: Three
Stories posted: One new, several crossposts

Charts are surprised we did this well, reallyCollapse )

Specific goals:

1. Write at least ten minutes every day. Almost. Considering the clusterfuck that was this November, I am reasonably proud that I only missed two days, and both were over Thanksgiving weekend.

2. Post publicly to DW every day. Success! (Or it will be, once I get this post finished.)

3. Finish and post Critical Role reverse bang story (due November 16th). Also a success.

4. Send Wardens of Ivalice 2 to beta. On Monday! \o/

5. Archive outstanding flashfic to AO3. For real this time. There were only three stories, all from a 15 characters meme I did over the summer. In case you missed it, they're all linked here.

Seriously, I feel lucky that I got even halfway to any of my goals, given November 2016. 2016, man. I know it's just a date on a calendar, and that there's no reason to think 2017 will be any better, but I'm still looking forward to turning that particular page. If you managed to win NaNo this year, I am seriously in awe.

Anyway, December goals:

1. Write at least six days per week except while traveling (the last week of the month). December is a busy month, not even counting my upcoming trip, so this is a little ambitious, but I'd like to try.

2. Finish and post Wardens of Ivalice Part 2 before I leave on 12/27.

3. Finish and submit story for Winter's Crest Gifts, also before 12/27 (due on 12/31).

4. Write and post at least two substantial articles for my journal and/or [community profile] ladybusiness.

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FFXV

Once upon a time, I was very excited for this game. Then my trust in Squeenix began eroding, until this happened, and I washed my hands of it.

Which means that I completely forgot that a new game in what used to be my favorite series is coming out today, until I saw a poster for it on my way home from work.

How things change.

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Recs for Hugo novel reading?

As the year comes to a close, the thoughts of the Hugo nominator turn to planning her reading for the next four months. Obviously, I cannot read every single novel that was published in 2016, not even every novel that reviewed well and/or seems likely to be a contender, even if I wanted to. The end-of-year lists are already coming out, and I'll be applying to those, as well as the always-helpful Hugo eligibility spreadsheet, but there's almost too many options there.

So I figure, why not start by asking my friends and followers, whose opinions I trust? What's your must-read book from 2016? (I'll get started on short fiction and other categories later; new series are probably more than I'm willing to tackle right now.) I'm already planning to read All the Birds in the Sky and Ninefox Gambit; books published in 2016 that I've read are here. Some possible nominee contenders there, but only one slam-dunk, so your thoughts are definitely welcome.

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Progress!

I might have just sent a draft of Wardens of Ivalice Part 2 out to beta. Maybe I will actually finish this thing.

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Back to Life

The busy holiday weekend is now over, and I expect a somewhat rude re-entry into real life thanks to a dentist appointment first thing tomorrow morning (getting a cavity filled; not my favorite thing ever but not too terrifying either). And December is booking up quickly, what with social events and cultural events and a trip to Hawaii for a wedding the week after Christmas. So I want to settle in to something that feels like a normal life, but it's difficult to contemplate given the state of national events.

I had really been looking forward to the 2016 election being over. Turns out it will never really be over, but I still feel the need to draw a line under the election, accept that its happened, and move on to the work of fighting the president elect and his cronies. Reportedly, on a call with Democratic party volunteers a week or so ago, President Obama informed them that they had until Thanksgiving to mourn, and then he expected everyone to get back to work. Seems reasonable to me. So despite the specter of recounts and audits and the (extremely slim) possibility that Electoral College will pull something unexpected, I want to make some effort to get back to some semblance of normal. Not complacency, not ignoring what's going on, but finding the balance of paying attention to what's happening, and pushing back where necessary, without letting it consume my whole life. In the words of wise Tumblr poster:

We’re in this for the long haul. It’s a marathon not a sprint. It’s also a relay race not a singles event.


We need to pace ourselves and work together. And if you're ever in a place where you need to hand me the baton, just let me know.

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Gilmore Girls marathon

I spent all day watching the new Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life with friends. Because we took a number of breaks for chatting and eating -- because how can one watch a bunch of Gilmore Girls without a corresponding spread of snacks? such coffee, popcorn, blueberry pancakes, more coffee, french fries, and corn dogs, which would have been the more appropriate burgers except it was raining, so our hosts couldn't use their grill -- it's late enough that I don't feel like I have time to write up thoughts up in more detail, but overall I can call myself content. It felt very much in the spirit of the original, and I was pleased by where all the most important relationships -- Lorelai and Rory, Lorelai and Luke, and Emily with her daughter and granddaughter -- ended up. More later, I hope.

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Family time

I've seen a lot of commentary about the difficulties of going home for the holidays in these divided political times -- people stressing out about the prospect of political arguments, coming up with strategies for dealing with the bigoted uncle, and so forth. Although I have my own family stresses, I count myself very lucky that politics is not one of them. (At least not among my mother's family. My dad's family, and T's family, are another story, but they aren't local -- when I talk about getting together with family, I generally mean my parents and brothers, and my mom's siblings and their kids). We fall at various points along the liberal spectrum, but at the core we have similar enough beliefs and values that when we argue politics, we're debating the details, not more fundamental questions like whether racism exists. As I mentioned at one point, it was a relief to be able to assume that no one at tonight's dinner voted for Trump (I do have one brother who's a Bernie Bro, and I expect he voted Green Party; we steered clear of that particular topic, which is fine since he lives in California where his presidential vote was essentially irrelevant) or supports his policies and beliefs. Not to say there weren't debates or arguments -- we're a big loud family who likes to talk about controversial topics, so of course there were points of disagreement -- but because they came from a place of fundamental agreement and respect, we're able to have actual conversations that rarely end in hurt feelings. It might be one of the ways I am most fortunate in my family of origin, and this year of all years, I don't take it for granted.

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Thanks

It can be rough to find things to be thankful for in these troubled times. And yet overall I remain relatively happy and content with my life. I am fortunate in so many ways: my stable marriage to a good and caring person; my healthy kitty who stayed healthy; wonderful friends in my daily life, my online life, and around the world; a job where I do meaningful work and have flexible hours so that I can pursue my other interests; a family that loves and supports me even when they don't always understand me; healthy and financially stable enough that I don't have to expect too much energy worrying about my basic needs.

And of course I have fandom, and every single one of you reading this, even those I don't know that well, even if we've never spoken directly. Fandom has brought so many good things into my life and I can't imagine a world without it. So thanks to you all, from the bottom of my heart. I hope everyone who celebrates is having a good and low-stress Thanksgiving, and a very happy Thursday to all.

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Holidaze

Various events will be changing up my usual holiday celebrations this year. Because my cousin who's hosting Thanksgiving wants to spend the day with her late mother's family -- it's their big all-family gathering day -- we're getting together on Friday instead. So tomorrow, for the first time ever in my life, I will be having Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant, with some friends and their family. It's weird to think that I won't be going anywhere tomorrow, that I'm not baking or assembling some dish tonight, that we have the entire morning and afternoon to ourselves. Not bad, just weird.

Friday, then, will be family day (which means no Moose Day celebration, though it's been years since I organized anything for that anyway). On Saturday, I'll attend a Gilmore Girls marathon. Most years, I go to a "Friendsgiving" dinner on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but that's not happening this year, because the friends who host it are packing up their house for a massive remodel. Which makes Sunday another unexpectedly free day. I expect all of these events, and relaxing days off, will be fun and lovely, but I'm a fan of tradition and ritual, so all these changes are throwing me off a little.

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Book review: "Indexing"

Today, over on [community profile] ladybusiness, I reviewed Indexing by Seanan McGuire. Take a look!

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Critical Role Reverse Bang Fic

Title: Those Who Wait
Fandom: Critical Role
Rating: G
Wordcount: 4317
Characters: Mostly OCs. Brief appearances by Kerrek and Vax.
Spoilers: Through Episode 56 ("Hope"). Set during Ep 54 through 56.
Notes: Written for the 2016 reverse big bang sponsored by [tumblr.com profile] critrolebang, and based on this artwork by [tumblr.com profile] cool-porygon. The art is also embedded at the end of the story.

Summary: A young woman of Westruun contemplates whether to flee the site of a terrible disaster, or stay and help rebuild her home.

On AO3

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Accomplishment?

I got all the way to November 20th without having to post about how I don't have anything to say today, so I guess that's a good thing?

At least I did manage to get a little editing done on Wardens of Ivalice, and roughed out a missing section that was giving me trouble. My plan is to get it to beta this week; we'll see.

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Meh

The Netflix disc we had in the house tonight was Silver Linings Playbook, added on the strength of reviews and Oscar buzz. We were, on the whole, unimpressed. The depiction of mental illness was deeply problematic, it was difficult to like any of the characters, and the ending felt almost entirely unearned. I think I am officially done with David O. Russell movies for the time being -- Flirting with Disater was great, and I remember liking Three Kings well enough, but I was pretty unmoved by American Hustle, and this movie gets a distinct thumbs down.

Today was, as planned, mostly laid back. The fact that it rained all day also helped inspire sloth -- we went grocery shopping (and bought ourselves a delicious rib roast, which we then cooked up for dinner), but that was about it. Just about right when I need to rest up for a concert day. (We will not talk about how much time I spent retweeting posts about current events and arguing with people on Facebook. I want to be active, but I need to figure out the best strategy for budgeting my time and attention.)

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One down

First concert was tonight, and it went quite well! We hit all the marks we needed to hit and no major errors, certainly nothing noticeable.

Now it's time to flop until the second show on Sunday.

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Meme: 11 questions

I was tagged on Tumblr by [personal profile] heavenscalyx for the 11 questions meme. I've done this a number of times, but never on DW -- it seems to mostly be a Tumblr meme. But since I prefer to home longer posts on DW, I'm transporting it here, and maybe it'll catch on. :)

Rules: 1. Always repost the rules 
2. Answer the 11 random questions posted for you
 3. Create 11 new ones and tag 11 people 
4. Let the person who tagged you know that you answered

Tagging [personal profile] lassarina, [personal profile] umadoshi, [personal profile] alias_sqbr, [personal profile] sathari, [personal profile] spindizzy, [personal profile] forestofglory and brennacedria -- optional as always, and if anyone else wants to answer, feel free!

My answers:

1. Do you have a ghost story that happened to you or one of your family? Sadly not, nothing like this in my personal history or family lore.

The rest behind the cutCollapse )

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Food, glorious food

Today, I'll be tackling the second of [personal profile] lassarina's topics: food! She had two questions which I am taking together.

What's your favorite recipe to cook?

I do cook, and enjoy it fairly well, although it's not something I do for pure enjoyment. I cook because I like to eat delicious food, and the food you cook yourself is often quite delicious. This is especially true when cooking becomes a communal activity, which it my house it almost always is. T and I try to make dinner two or three times a week, always together. We have a number of standby recipes, but we like to try new things, too. We've subscribed to Cook's Illustrated for almost as long as we've lived together, and most of our regular meals come from there. I don't know that I can pick a single favorite, but some of the items we make most often are carnitas-style roast pork (we had leftover of that just tonight) and pasta with tomato cream sauce.

So I like cooking pretty well. But what I really love is baking. Cooking, when done right, is more of an art than a science. As they say, "season to taste, cook until done." That's all well and good, but I need more parameters than that. What I like about baking is the precision of it. If you follow the recipe, then it works. (Well, usually.) I haven't done much with bread baking -- maybe I'll experiment with that someday -- and I'm useless with pastry crust, but almost anything else I am happy to try. My go-to these days is blondies. Easy, tasty, versatile, and a crowd-pleaser.

Unfortunately I can't link to the recipes because they're all behind the Cook's Illustrated pay wall. But I expect similar ones should be easy enough to find. And if you have questions about ingredients or technique, let me know.

What's your favorite food to eat in a restaurant?

This depends an awful lot on my mood, and what kind of restaurant. One dish I will almost always order if it's on the menu is lasagna. I am capable of making a quite tasty lasagna on my own, but I can't cook it at home because T is lactose intolerant, and although he can manage some things with cheese, mozzarella is particularly deadly for him. And lasagna (and similar baked pasta dishes such as ziti, chicken parmesan, and macaroni and cheese) are among my favorite foods ever. So I content myself with getting my fix when I go out, or will occasionally make a pan for a party.

I'd be interested in seeing you all answer this question, too, if you're so inclined! What do you like to make at home? What's your go-to when you eat out?

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Musical

Concert week ahoy. Today was the first dress rehearsal and it went quite well. The main piece this quarter is Durufle's Requiem, a lesser known work that happens to be one of my best beloved ones -- right up there with Brahms' Requiem and Beethoven's Mass in C. I know it because I sang it my senior year of college. I fell in love with it and have longed to do it again ever since, but this has been my first opportunity to do so. When it was announced at the end of the last term for our Fall 2016 concert, I literally gasped in joy. It incorporates many elements of Gregorian chant along with more Romantic and Modern touches (it was composed in 1947) and is unusual in tone and structure compared to many other classic requiems -- no Dies Irae movement, many other movements shortened, hardly any solo work.

If you're curious, there's a full-lenghth video here, although I haven't heard the whole thing and can't vouch for the quality.

We also have a guest conductor, who was the long-time director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He's a brilliant musician, very demanding, but it's been worth it -- the music he's been pulling out of us is gorgeous. First show is Friday, and I'm looking forward to it.

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Still My President

President Obama gave one of his final press conferences today. The transcript is an interesting read, and this version has some annotations from Washington Post reporters. I'd call his tone guarded but hopeful, particularly in terms of the future prospects of the Democratic Party:

I believe that we have better ideas. But I also believe that good ideas don't matter if people don't hear them.... We have to compete everywhere. We have to show up everywhere. We have to work at a grassroots level, something that's been a running thread in my career....

And the challenge for a national party is how do you dig in there and create those kinds of structures so that people have a sense of what it is that you stand for. And that increasingly is difficult to do just through a national press strategy. It's increasingly difficult to do because of the splintering of the press. And so I think the discussions that have been taking place about, how do you build more grassroots organizing, how do you build state parties and local parties and school board elections you're paying attention to, state rep races and city council races, that all, I think, will contribute to stronger outcomes in the future. And I'm optimistic that will happen.

For Democrats who are feeling completely discouraged, I've been trying to remind them, everybody remembers my Boston speech in 2004. They may not remember me showing up here in 2005 when John Kerry had lost a close election, Tom Daschle, the leader of the Senate, had been beaten in an upset. Ken Salazar and I were the only two Democrats that won nationally. Republicans controlled the Senate and the House, and two years later, Democrats were winning back Congress, and four years later I was President of the United States.

Things change pretty rapidly. But they don't change inevitably. They change because you work for it. Nobody said Democracy's supposed to be easy. It's hard. And in a big country like this, it probably should be hard.


Considering that Obama has already said that he plans for his main political cause post-presidency to be getting Democrats elected locally and fair redistricting for the House of Representatives, I think he's going to put his money -- and his time -- where his mouth is on this one. And I hope to support this effort every step of the way.

Although I haven't read it yet, he did an extensive exit interview with Doris Kearns Goodwin in September's Vanity Fair, and apparently in that interview he suggested that once he's out of office, the gloves are coming off. I think we've gotten a bit of a preview in the last couple of years, and I can hardly wait for the rest. (Except for the part where I really, really don't want him to leave. Especially not now. *clings like a limpet*)

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Artful

Today, we went to a Frank Stella retrospective at the DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park. In part, because we wanted to spend a little time in the park, and also because we both enjoy Stella's work. He's associated with minimalism, and I had mostly been familiar with his earlier paintings, which tend to be simple geometric shapes in either bright colors or black and white. (I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff -- one of my very favorite artists is Sol LeWitt). But as his career continued, he started pushing the boundaries of what we might traditionally call a painting, first by departing from the standard rectangular canvas and then pushing into the third dimension more and more until his works basically become sculpture with a tenuous connection to the wall. Definitely worth the visit.

And then, after literally years of hemming and hawing about it, we applied our ticket purchase toward an annual membership, because there's a Monet exhibit coming up in February, and those tickets plus today's tickets are about the cost of a membership, and the truth is we get to this museum at least three or so times a year anyway. So it's long past time to step up on this one. I look forward to getting a lot of use out of it.

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Arrival

I've been anticipating this movie since I randomly saw the first trailer as a YouTube ad a few months ago. An intelligent-looking science fiction movie about language, starring Amy Adams, based on a story by Ted Chiang? Sign me up. So we went to see it today, and I was more than satisfied. Amy Adams was phenomenal, the story was smart and thoughtful, the visuals were effective, the music set the mood perfectly. It's a meditation on memory, and the blessing and cure of foreknowledge. If you're interested in a sci-fi movie that's heavier on the thinking and lighter on the explosions, I definitely recommend it.

I hadn't read the short story, "Story of Your Life", so I decided to read it this evening. It was quite different, and less to my taste than the movie -- the story went into much greater detail on the linguistic details of language structure and language learning, and it also spent quite a bit of time on physics, which the movie barely touched on. I feel like that level of detail would have bogged down the movie, which moved as a fairly slow pace as it was. Not too slow -- it actually felt just about the right length -- but any slower and it probably wouldn't have worked. As it was, I think Arrival does a good job of taking the main ideas of the text and transforming them to film.

Spoilers, for the story and the movie.Collapse )

Good movie. Go see it. Strong contender for best SF/F film of 2016, for sure -- you can bet that this will be on my Hugo ballot.

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