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woman who reads too much

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February 16th, 2017

08:53 pm: health insurance dammit
I'm not going to put a 'politics' label on this, because this exact thing has been happening to me for 30 years, and I don't expect it to stop in my lifetime. This thing is: I have health insurance. I see a health care provider. I hand over my insurance card and my payment. A month later I get a bill from the health care provider. I call the health care provider. I talk to a phone-answerer; she doesn't know anything about anything, except that her screen says I still owe $X. I confirm that they have my insurance information, that they billed my insurance, that the services they billed were the services I received, which are covered by my insurance. I call the insurance company. They assure me that the health care provider's bill has been paid in full, and that I do not owe them any more money. I call the health care provider back. The phone-answerer says they'll look into it. Thirty days later I get another bill for the same charge, in pink, with threats to send it to a collections agency. Most often, another round of phone calls will settle it, though the health care provider never admits that they got anything wrong; they promise again to look into it, and this time I don't get another bill.

I'm so angry right now. I hate the phone and I hate arguing with people and my blood pressure reacts very very badly to threats, and there's nothing I can do except stew about it until tomorrow, because I picked up the mail when I came back in from walking the dog, which was just after 5:00.

I wonder how many people who are more phone-averse or less good with paperwork or just too damn busy or not as entitled to fairness as I think I am just cough up the double payment.

I wonder whether these things would happen to me so often if I had changed my name when I got married. They don't seem to happen to my non-Hispanic husband.

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February 15th, 2017

12:07 pm: "paid protestors"
Still madCollapse )

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February 13th, 2017

01:13 pm: calling Cory Gardner
calling my Republican senatorCollapse )

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February 10th, 2017

01:35 am: wednesday reading
• What are you reading?

The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro, for SF book group. A third of the way in. We're not getting along very well. Everything is mysterious. Some things are portentous. No one understands anything, but no one is very bothered, because no one remembers anything. Except in fragments. One mysterious woman told the same story as another mysterious woman. A strange warrior keeps giving our main character significant looks: does he remember something that the MC does not? Another odd figure was going to tell us his theory, but he has to leave. He's back. His theory is that maybe it's not just the characters who are senile; maybe God is also going senile.

I think I am going to get to the end of this book and ask, "What was that all about?" And the book will answer, "I don't know, Susan. What do you think that was all about?"

• What did you recently finish reading?

The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Reread, for classics book group. So good! Thirty years ago the exploration of gender interested me most, but now it is the politics, power, status, loyalty.

The book has also changed between readings because I fell in love with Due South, and now I cannot not see Estraven and Genly Ai as alternate-universe Fraser and Kowalski. Especially when Estraven does something amazingly competent. Or lets you see how hard it is on him to do something dishonorable, even when the end absolutely does justify the means. Or writes, about Genly, "He endures the cold pretty well, and if courage were enough, would stand it like a snow-worm." I wonder how many fics in which Fraser keeps a journal, or encourages Ray to, and then after the Quest one of them reads the other's journal, were inspired by Estraven's journals more than Bob's?

• What do you think you’ll read next?

A spool of blue thread, by Anne Tyler, for Tawanda book group.

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February 3rd, 2017

01:29 am: wednesday reading
• What are you reading?

The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin, for classics book group. I've read this multiple times, but the last time I remember was on a summer vacation with Neal when I was 19. We were camping in Glacier National Park when Genly Ai and Estraven were out on the ice; if I remember right, it snowed on July 4, and we woke up to a mountain goat with a baby mountain goat investigating our campsite. The baby cavorted as baby goats do.

• What did you recently finish reading?

All About Love, by bell hooks, because my daughter read it and wanted to discuss it. I'm going to have to read this one again sometime. Hooks says she found a meaningful definition of love in M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled: "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." I thought hooks had a lot of useful things to say about how abuse, dishonesty, and injustice damage love, but I still don't understand that initial definition.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro, for SF book group.

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January 30th, 2017

08:01 pm: calling Cory Gardner
politicsCollapse )

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06:59 pm: filtering political posts
I'm going to tag any political posts with "politics" from now on. If you have a paid DW account, you can filter them off your reading page.

Go to "Manage Filters" (https://www.dreamwidth.org/manage/subscriptions/filters), choose "Default view" (or whichever filter you read me on), and then click on my name. You should get these choices:

Show only content that ...
... is rated [anything(show all content)/safe or non-explicit/safe for work only]
... and the entry is tagged with [any/all/none]
of the selected tags:
(no tags selected)
Available tags (click to select):

Choose "none" from the dropdown menu on "the entry is tagged with". Click "politics" on the list of available tags.

I'm going to tag this post "politics" so the tag will be there to click! I am sorry that this option is only available to paid DW accounts. I will also put political posts behind a cut tag so you can avoid reading them.

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January 25th, 2017

04:19 am: Back on the Habitica horse (giant wolf, in my case) but giving myself very easy passes. Wrangled five Wiscon program items? Sure, check off "volunteer". But I signed on to a Challenge to do the 10 actions in 100 days from https://www.womensmarch.com/100/

I like [profile] sidearea's essay on what the Women's March accomplished. Nowadays, if you say "women" when you mean "white women", you are asking to be called out. But that is not the end of the world! You can respond in a good way, and make wonderful things happen!

I was looking for something and found this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2iJlq0CwdQ
Turn On Me, from Pat MacDonald Sleeps With His Guitar. I never get tired of Pat MacDonald. His lyrics are so funny and smart and allusive and complex.

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January 23rd, 2017

01:53 am: Definitely feeling better, and fully hydrated.

Popsicles are easier to swallow than water. Chloe's Soft Serve Fruit are very good.

I've been taking an ACE inhibitor + diuretic for 17 years. Every time my doctor didn't like my blood pressure, she'd up the dosage. When she got to the maximum dosage on both components, she decided that I should take that twice a day.

Now, when swallowing was really difficult, I wasn't taking my blood pressure medicine. This was probably part of the problem.

I've always known that in a Lord of the Flies type situation I would be Piggy. Fukken bodies!

I also take potassium, to compensate for the diuretic. This is what the potassium tablet looks like: http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/boxofdelights/833604/59044/59044_900.jpg I am definitely not going to be swallowing one of those any time soon.

I thought Gatorade was supposed to have potassium. Isn't that the whole point of Gatorade?

When I can't sleep but my eyes are too tired to read, I start ruminating. Fifty years of failures and resentments, everything I don't want to think about, all seem to tangle together, like pulling hair out of a shower drain. They might turn into a shame spiral around YOU'RE AN ASSHOLE. YOU DON'T DESERVE LOVE. or one that ends in YOU'RE A VICTIM. YOU DESERVE ALL THE LOVE BUT YOU WILL NEVER GET ANY BECAUSE THE WORLD IS CRUEL. or those might twin together around YOU'RE A LOSER. YOU WILL DIE ALONE. IF YOU'RE LUCKY SOMEONE WILL NOTICE IN TIME TO RESCUE YOUR DOGS.

This is why I hate going to bed if I'm not feeling sleepy.

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January 21st, 2017

07:11 pm: more joy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNQs6gSOkeU

"Bread and Roses", as it appeared in "Pride". Always brings me to tears but they are happy tears.

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06:23 pm: I've had a painful virus for a few days. Fever and chills, muscle aches, even my skin hurts. The most difficult to tolerate is a spot inside my throat that makes swallowing painful. I can only drink in tiny sips, well-spaced, not only because it hurts but also because if a drop of liquid lands on the wrong spot it makes me cough, which a)hurts and b)expels all the liquid I was trying to swallow.

I haven't peed in a day and a half, and that was only a few drops. I've drunk most of a 16-oz bottle of water and six ounces of orange juice, but I must be sweating it all out. Is this bad for my kidneys? Like, how bad? Should I go to Urgent Care and ask them for subcutaneous fluids?

Also, is the active ingredient in Chloraseptic Throat Spray the same drug that dentists use to numb you up for a filling? Because my dentist says that doesn't really work on me, and this throat spray doesn't seem to have any effect either.

ETA: Okay, you have scared me, thank you Rush, Lydy, Misbegotten, and Omnia. I am going to push fluids until my skin snaps back, and if it doesn't I will go to Urgent Care.

ETA2: Am peeing again.

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January 10th, 2017

12:21 pm: bibliomancy
Grab the nearest book, flip to page 117, the second sentence is your life in 2017.

Oh, fuck. The only book on my desk is The Water Knife.

"He was pointing down at the new corpse, the one they'd called Vosovich."

That could have been a lot worse!

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January 7th, 2017

02:53 am: More Joy Day is a GO
Details here.

I am trying to think of ways to make joy. If you want anything podficced, point me to it!

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January 1st, 2017

11:45 pm: A Curious Mind
A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer

Brian Grazer seems like an interesting (though annoying) person, but this is a very boring book. He says he's a storyteller, and maybe in person he is, but the book is mostly name-dropping and trivia. Even the rhythm of the writing is monotonous. He is very fond of making a general assertion, followed by a list of examples, but not in a way that makes an argument: it's just assertion, assertion, assertion.
You have to learn to beat the "no".

Everybody in Hollywood has to beat the "no"—and if you write code in Silicon Valley, or if you design cars in Detroit, if you manage hedge funds in Lower Manhattan, you also have to learn to beat the "no".

Not every paragraph consists of one sentence. Many of them have two. Many of them have three.
Human connection requires sincerity. It requires compassion. It requires trust.

Can you really have sincerity, or compassion, or trust, without curiosity?

I don't think so. I think when you stop to consider it—when you look at your own experiences at work and at home—what's so clear is that authentic human connection requires curiosity.

To be a good boss, you have to be curious about the people who work for you. And to be a good colleague, a good romantic partner, a good parent, you have to be curious as well.

It's not that I disagree with Grazer that human connection requires sincerity. But I don't read books for assertions that I agree with mixed with name-dropping, trivia, and begging the question.

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December 31st, 2016

12:12 pm: which is better
Would I rather stay in my pajamas all day, or take out the trash for symbolism?

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December 30th, 2016

09:19 pm: open mic night
Looking at the events calendar of the coffee shop where one of my book groups meets, I noticed that they have an open mic night for "Musicians, poets, comedians, storytellers, anyone with something to say or do," the last Friday of every month. This month, when both of my kids are here, so I'd have my own claque, I decided to go. And I did! I told a story. It was not very good, but I did not have to say, "Please clap."

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02:04 am: xmas books
I got A Small Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life, by Steven Kotler, from my son.
I gave my nieces Cornelia Funke's Inkheart and Rachel Hartman's Seraphina.
I gave my older child
Naomi Novik's Uprooted,
Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me,
Ted Chiang's Stories of Your Life and Others, though it did not persuade her to see Arrival with me,
Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown,
Becky Chambers's The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet,
Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor,
and Sydney Padua's The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage.
I gave my younger child
Ben Aaronovitch's Broken Homes and Foxglove Summer,
Lev Grossman's Codex,
M. J. Locke's Up Against It,
Martha Wells's The Serpent Sea,
and Carla Speed McNeil's Finder.
I also wanted him to try Nine Princes in Amber, but somewhere over the years I lost my SFBC copy. My library has the giant 10-books-in-one compilation, so I checked that out; he'll only be here for a few more days, but he can read one or two and decided whether he'd like to finish. I think I'll dig out Doorways in the Sand for him too.

• What are you reading?

Detroit City is the Place to Be, by Mark Binelli. A bit about how Detroit got to be that way, a bit about what its possibilities are, but mostly about what it is like to live in Detroit now. Very interesting.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Death by Silver, by Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

My book groups' books for January:
Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
Americanah, by Chimimanda Ngozie Adichie
The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, translated by Sheila Fisher

My fourth book group will be meeting in January, but we're not reading a book. The plan is to learn to knit a pussy hat.

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December 14th, 2016

09:59 pm: Guys, it’s time for some game theory.
Good pictures of coyotes and badgers hunting cooperatively: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/coyote-and-badger-hunt-together

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December 10th, 2016

01:18 pm: dream
I dreamed I was hurtling through ever-expanding space, alone. At the beginning, whenever I saw something wonderful, I'd say "Wow." But eventually I stopped saying anything.

I think the dream came from listening to Splendor and Misery. I didn't have a cargo/passenger/captain though, not even one in cold sleep.

Also, yesterday I read this horoscope
Scorpio (October 23-November 21)
Five of my Scorpio acquaintances and 17 of my Scorpio readers have let me know that they're actively seeking to make new alliances and strengthen their existing alliances. Does this mean that Scorpios everywhere are engaged in similar quests? I hope so. I would love to see you expand your network of like-minded souls. I would love for you to be ardent about recruiting more help and support. Happily, the current astrological omens favor such efforts. Hot tip: For best results, be receptive, inviting, and forthright.

*
and pulled this card: The Hermit: Withdrawal from events and relationship to introspect and gather strength. Seeking the inner voice or calling upon vision from within. A need of understanding and advice, or a wise man who will offer knowing guidance. Personal experience and thoughtful temperance.

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December 1st, 2016

02:21 am: december prompts
Is there anything you'd like me to write about? I'm not promising to write about certain topics on certain days, because that is not a promise I can keep. But, understanding that I do fall down a lot, and that if I fall down on your topic, that doesn't imply anything wrong with your topic or with how I feel about you, would you like to propose a topic that I will try to write about in December or sometime?

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12:24 am: Catch 'em being good
akirlu suggested that we collectively try to shape Donald Trump's behavior the way animal trainers and nursery school teachers do: shower him with positive reinforcement whenever he moves toward where you want him to be.

I think this strategy could work. Trump is hungry for praise the way some dogs are for food. He'd stand on his nose if that's what it took. But who's got the patience? I find it hard to spend that much time watching my dogs, and I love my dogs; even when they're doing something disgusting, I think they're adorable.

Maybe the Office of Government Ethics does: Ethics Office Praises Donald Trump for a Move He Hasn’t Committed To. (link to the New York Times)

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November 26th, 2016

11:56 pm: Don't Change the Game
A good idea: http://siderea.livejournal.com/1324762.html

Does your experience agree with siderea that
In an important sense, this is just politeness: don't selfishly hijack conversations that were going fine without you to be about what you'd prefer to discuss instead. On the other hand, I doubt anybody has ever in your entire lives suggested that changing a conversational topic is ever impolite, except, you know, this whole "derailing" concept from social justice activism on the internet. And most people are actually pretty terrible at discerning just what the topic is in a discussion, it not being a skill it ever crossed normal people's minds to desire to acquire.
?

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November 21st, 2016

12:48 pm: Paul Ryan and the ACA
ETA: asakiyume called (202) 225-3031 and got through to the survey.

Paul Ryan's phone number, which may or may not lead to a survey about whether to repeal the ACA, is 202-225-0600. I just called twice. The first time, there was no survey, just an a chance to leave voicemail, so I hung up. After a minute to think, I called back; I don't think I pressed a different combination of buttons, but this time I got the survey, pressed 1, and then got voicemail. I said, "My name is Susan Ramirez. My husband worked for Hewlett-Packard for 28 years. He got laid off this month. One of our children is in college, one just graduated. They both have jobs, but they don't have full-time jobs or health benefits. Please don't take affordable health insurance away from people like us."

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11:12 am: fortunately
+ Pest guy says termites are indeed really really rare here, and they wouldn't start colonizing a tree or a shed, they'd start with a heated building.

+ Right before my husband got laid off, we had a structural engineer look over the foundation, inside and out. (We were finally going to try to level the house and then fix the kitchen/bathroom situation.) He wasn't specifically looking for insect damage but if there were termite tunnels I think he would have noticed.

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November 19th, 2016

08:51 pm: fortunately, unfortunately
+ When I bought this house it came with a very big, very old apple tree.
- Which suddenly started to lean.
+ It didn't fall over and hurt anyone.
- Because it was leaning on the shed, which also began to lean: http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/boxofdelights/833604/58217/58217_900.jpg
+ I found a very competent, honest, and kind tree guy who took the tree the rest of the way down without damaging anything else except an old birdhouse where yellowjackets had been nesting.
- He discovered that the tree had not been taken out by old age. It had been killed by carpenter ants or termites. I thought termites didn't live around here, because the winters are too cold and dry, but I believe tree guy would know.

- Tree guy says that I should call an exterminator to treat the house,
- but I'm thinking that the insects would be even more likely to have infested the shed;
- but I can't ask an exterminator to look into the shed until I make it safe, so I don't know where to start.
- Also I am feeling guilty about not having realized that I needed to do something earlier.

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November 17th, 2016

03:50 pm: PSA
The Seattle Review of Books is offering a new SFF column, written by Nisi Shawl:

The Future Alternative Past: our inaugural science fiction, fantasy, and horror column

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12:36 am: an ethical question
Suppose you read a newspaper article about an unjust oppressive thing happening to a kid. Suppose that later, you became possessed by a desire to write fiction about kids figuring out how to protest against injustice and oppression. You thought you'd start with something like that incident you'd read about, but you were mostly interested in how the kids might respond to it: what might they do, to try to change things? What effect could they have? What would people do to try to stop them? Who would help them? How would they feel about the unintended consequences of their actions? And so on.

Eventually you noticed that you had neglected to come up with a different inciting incident. In fact, a lot of what you had come up with was pretty firmly rooted in the details of the actual thing that happened to some actual child. Because the actual thing was pretty much perfect, for your story. You didn't want to give up any part of it.

Would it be enough to change the name, age, sex, and nationality of the kid the incident happened to? Or would you still feel like you were stealing someone else's story?

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November 15th, 2016

09:48 am: For voters in the US
So Trump is testing how far he can pull the Overton window to the alt-right. You have an opportunity to provide some resistance.

This post explains why and how to call on your representatives to protest the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump's top advisor:
I'm incredibly sorry, but it looks like you need to make phone calls

This series of tweets explains why this is important: https://twitter.com/pookleblinky/status/798334846842142722

This comment gives a script: http://rydra-wong.dreamwidth.org/457613.html?thread=5084045#cmt5084045

Resistance is the secret of joy. So is this otter.

ETA what I said: "My name is Susan Ramirez, I live at [redacted], I voted for Jared Polis in last week's election. I am calling to ask Representative Polis to protest the appointment of Steve Bannon, a self-declared white supremacist, as Donald's Trump's chief strategist. This appointment tells Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan that they have the ear of the next president. I would like my representative to speak out against that."

ETA Cory Gardner's intern said he'd pass the message along.

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November 11th, 2016

05:10 pm: hope in the dark
My library's website's featured books this week are

10 steps to mastering stress : a lifestyle approach
The book of joy : lasting happiness in a changing world / His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams
Don't give up, don't give in : lessons from an extraordinary life / Louis Zamperini and David Rensin
Instructions for a broken heart / By Kim Culbertson
Meditation made easy : more than 50 exercises for peace, relaxation, & mindfulness

Do you think they're trying to tell us something?

Rebecca Solnit, author of "Men Explain Things to Me" and A Paradise Built in Hell, is offering the ebook of her Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities free, for four more days.

https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/791-hope-in-the-dark?discount_code=FREEHOPEINTHEDARK
Your opponents would love you to believe that it’s hopeless, that you have no power, that there’s no reason to act, that you can’t win. Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away. And though hope can be an act of defiance, defiance isn’t enough reason to hope. But there are good reasons.
I wrote this book in 2003 and early 2004 to make the case for hope. The text that follows is in some ways of its moment—it was written against the tremendous despair at the height of the Bush administration’s powers and the outset of the war in Iraq. That moment passed long ago, but despair, defeatism, cynicism, and the amnesia and assumptions from which they often arise have not dispersed, even as the most wildly, unimaginably magnificent things came to pass. There is a lot of evidence for the defense.


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