carbonel: (Default)
All my posts and comments are imported, says DW.

I just set up DW to copy posts from here over to LJ, so this is a test of sorts. Comments on LJ are allowed for now.

I still need to go through my LJ friends list and see if there's anyone who's on that list who's active on DW that I haven't subscribed/given access to.

I need to transfer all the feeds I use on LJ to DW.

(I see that all my tags imported, but there doesn't seem to be any way to bring up the tags list to select from them. Does DW think I have them all memorized? I don't, so autocomplete is insufficient.)
carbonel: (cubs)
ETA: With some help from [livejournal.com profile] redbird, I'm all set up. Go Cubs!

So here's the situation.

T-Mobile is offering a free MLB.tv subscription TODAY ONLY.

In order to take advantage of this, one needs to install a free app called T-Mobile Tuesdays. I did so on an old iPhone 4 that maxes out at iOS 7. When I installed the app a couple of weeks ago, it worked okay. When I tried to run the app today, it didn't work -- it's been "upgraded" and now requires iOS 8, and crashes when I try to run it. So frustrating.

Is there anyone around who a) is a T-Mobile customer, and b) has a device that will support iOS 8, c) doesn't want a free MLB.tv subscription, and d) would be willing to go through the T-Mobile rigmarole on my behalf? I'd give that person my login credentials, but it might still use up that device's ability to get another one.

I would be exceedingly appreciative. The subscription is worth about $120, so it's worth some hassle to me to make it work. [livejournal.com profile] laurel is trying something at the other end, but it's dependent on her finding a missing device.

In the meantime, of course, for any T-Mobile users who are baseball fans, this is a great deal and you should sign up for yourselves.
carbonel: (Farthing photo)
OBDisclaimer: I have met David several times over the years; I'd say we're friendly acquaintances. I've enjoyed many of his short stories; he has a nicely readable writing style, and I hope he keeps writing. It's just this book that didn't work for me.

I just finished reading Arabella of Mars, and I mentioned my issues with it to a few people. At least two of them said, "Oh, yeah, I remember [livejournal.com profile] mrissa had problems with that one." Which she did, here. I was going to make some comments there, but decided to make my own post instead.

Issues, I got them. (Spoilers abound.)

First of all, I don't remember why I put this book on hold at the library. Maybe it was the push that the Tor blog gave it? I'd assumed it was from one of James Nicoll's reviews, but no -- when I went to reread his review, I discovered he'd never reviewed it.

[livejournal.com profile] mrissa did a fine job of covering the sexism fail, so I'll mostly leave that one alone.

And the entire steampunk setting, with atmosphere between the planets and asteroids with trees growing on them gets an eyeroll but a pass, because that's the one total implausibility that that the entire book is built around.

Leaving all that aside, there's the villain. And what a very convenient villain he is, too. He carefully explains to Arabella just how awful his life is because of his position as second son (Arabella's uncle) and his choice of bad investments. So when Arabella accidentally lets it drop that it might be affordable for him to hock the family silver and run off to Mars to kill her brother (her father, the previous heir, being conveniently dead), he does so -- and when he gets caught in the process of running away, he monologues to justify his necessity.

The next time we see him, he has heroically saved the life of said brother (the villain's nephew), at a time when it would have been entirely plausible to let him die. Not kill him, mind you, just let him die. But he saves him. It might be because he needed the brother the guide both of them to safety, but the impression I got in the book was that he saved him because he wanted the brother to think well of him.

Eventually the villain dies in the process of trying to make Arabella the scapegoat for the villain's own evil deeds. He waffles between actively evil, wishy-washy, and wanting to be a good guy. This could be the interesting depiction of a complex character, but it reads like the description of someone who acts however he needs to for the plot to do what the author wants.

Then there's the ending. Arabella is required to marry immediately, so that (best I can tell) she can produce a son so that the son plus the brother (who is currently in fragile health) can break the entail so that Arabella and her mother and sisters won't be left penniless. Er, what? I read the last few pages a couple of times, and it still made no sense to me. The obvious option in most Regency books would be for Arabella to make a brilliant marriage to a wealthy suitor support her family. Here, the need for a marriage seems to be externally imposed to provide an incentive for Arabella to propose to someone who might otherwise be deemed unsuitable because he's foreign and the wrong skin color (which was also the excuse for a mutiny earlier in the book).

In short, this book doesn't (as I'd hoped) play with the standard tropes of SF and Regency romance to produce something new. Instead, it depends on some of the worst of default assumptions about race and gender to produce a flabby book with an interesting but unbelievable setting.
carbonel: (tivo)
Blindspot just got dropped from my DVR to-watch list.

I am finally, painfully, learning that I personally dislike the entire genre of shows with long-term conspiracy-based plots where anyone (and probably everyone) is a bad guy, or at least having a secondary set of motivations. That’s true (for me) even of shows that other people think are great and that get good reviews. In the past couple of years, I’ve watched at least a season of, and ultimately dropped, Quantico, How to Get Away with Murder, The Blacklist, and now Blindspot. And Timeless and Frequency are both on the bubble for now.

I feel a little guilty about giving up on “good” shows, but it’s not as if I need them to pass a test for school. If it’s not amusing me sufficiently, what’s the point?

On the other hand, I like long-arc shows, as long as they have a defined ending point. I’m sorry that Murder in the First was canceled after three seasons, and I’m looking forward to the new season of American Crime, even though that one is quite dark (two seasons so far, both with seriously depressing resolutions and ruined lives).
carbonel: (Farthing photo)
For many years, I have chosen my bathroom book -- yes, there's always a bathroom book -- by selecting the next unread (or at least unremembered) book from my shelves of softcover fiction paperbacks, which are stored alphabetically by author. The rule I've chosen is that if I can't or don't want to finish the book, it goes on the "take to used bookstore for credit" pile unless there's a very good reason.

After all these years, I'm only up to the middle of the C's. Last week, the next book in line was James Clavell's Gai-Jin. I'd just finished King Rat, which I enjoyed. (I loved Shogun, but was mostly meh about Noble House and Whirlwind. Gai-Jin was three times the length of King Rat (over 1,200 pages), and did not start out encouragingly. I decided to look it up in Wikipedia, and only continue if a) the main male character did not end up dead (as happened in several other of his books) or b) I had any reason to think there would be a Bechdel pass. The Wikipedia entry made it clear it failed on both counts. This one I kept only for possible reference, because it fits with the other Asian saga books, but I choose not to read it.

The next book on the shelf was Fire Bringer, by David Clement-Davies. I'm pretty sure I bought this book because it was published under the Firebird imprint. Unfortunately, the print was teeny-tiny, probably to minimize page count, because it was already pretty thick. This book got only one chapter read by me, then I went looking for reviews. Sure enough, all the reviews (which were highly polarized into "loved it" and "hated it") said it was like Watership Down, only with deer. I've already read Watership Down, and prefer bunnies to deer, so it went on the to-go pile. If someone makes a really good case for why I should continue reading, it'll have to be as an e-book.

Current bathroom book is Mark Clifton's When They Come from Space. I read it many years ago, but didn't remember much about it other than it being essentially a farce. I really wish I could find something else of Clifton's that I liked as well as "Star, Bright."

Just to show I'm not a complete book-grouch this week, I just finished On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis, which I read based on James Nicoll's review, and quite enjoyed.

Currently in the middle of The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. I find it sufficiently un-gripping that I keep abandoning it for other books, but also keep going back to it a chapter or two at a time. I'm not sure what it is I find off-putting, but I think there may be some sort of pacing issue. It should be just my catnip. It's a first novel, so I'll probably give the next one a try when I finish this one.

I also downloaded and am reading Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky (son of [livejournal.com profile] marsgov). I had started reading chapters as they were uploaded, but stopped when I stopped getting new chapter alerts from FF.net.

The current kitchen book is Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough -- a comfort re-re-re-read.
carbonel: (Farthing photo)
I just posted a first draft of my Yuletide story. The deadline is Sunday morning, at 9 am Central time.

I was this close to defaulting before the default deadline. I was at assignments page, about to click the default button, and I decided to see if I could get something. After about 10 minutes, I had 300 words, and I decided if I could do 300 words, I could do 1,000 (the minimum for Yuletide). And then I procrastinated some more.

When I finally got started, there were a couple of days of dripping blood onto the keyboard, but I finally have 2,700 not-too-awful words. I'll do a second draft after I receive comments from my beta reader, but it's a complete story, so it fulfills the basic requirement.

Why oh why can't I go through this process a month earlier? This isn't a tradition, it's a habit. A bad one. Maybe next year I'll just take the year off.
carbonel: (Beth spinning)
Is anyone here on Ravelry? I'm having all sorts of weird problems.

It's ungodly slow, and displaying improperly. And I can't reply to messages.

I've had problems like this before when the browser (or computer) ran out of memory, but in this case, a) I shut down and rebooted, and b) I'm having the exactly same problem on my iPad, which is an entirely different operating system.

I checked the Rav status Twitter feed, and it doesn't seem to think there's anything wrong. So it might just be me, but I can't see how it would happen on both a desktop computer and a tablet if it's just me.

Help?

ETA: I checked with Pat WINOLJ, and she's having similar problems, so it's not just me. If there's anyone who isn't having problems and would be willing to make a quick post on my behalf, please let me know. I have to reply to a thread in the next six or seven hours or I'll lose a swap I'd like to have. But at the moment I can't post, and I can't even access profiles to see if any of the mods' addresses are on their profile.

ETA2: Seems to be fixed now. I wonder what the problem was.
carbonel: (kittens)
This is an edited and expanded version of a reply to [livejournal.com profile] jenett's query about cats and names and such.

All my cat names have come from books. And all my cats but one were friend's-cat-had-kittens cats; that other one was from the Human Society.

Emily (named for Emily Dickinson, because she was celibate and a bit strange) was quite happy as a solitary cat. She was grey and white, and rather sedate as cats go, which gave me an entirely unreasonable idea of how cats should behave. She boarded out for a year-and-a-half with a friend who had multiple cats when I moved into a house where I couldn't have her (in retrospect, a mistake). When I finally got her back, she spent the first night sitting on my chest and purring. Coals of fire, indeed. She developed a mammary tumor around age 10, and I chose to euthanize her rather than try any treatment.

Pyewacket (name from the movie Bell, Book, and Candle, by way of Pamela Dean's Tam Lin) I got as a kitten, and she had very firm notions. She almost died because she wouldn't eat dry kitten food, and it took a vet visit to figure out that wet food was fine. Early on, she developed a habit of using my bed instead of a litterbox. In desperation, I acquired Gandalf, in the theory that either the problem was that she was lonely or she would go back to where I acquired her and become a barn cat. Luckily, having another kitten in the house fixed the problem pretty much immediately. She lived to 17. The last year was hard; she had thyroid problems, but I don't think that wasn't everything. She slowly stopped eating, and eventually just wore down. She died at home without any intervention from me.

Gandalf was my one shelter kitten, and my first male cat. I'd always wanted a gray cat to name Gandalf, and he was nature's perfect cat in many ways -- plush and soft and friendly. He had a fetish for shoes, and hated having his surroundings rearranged. He was very sneaky about not using the litter box sometimes -- when I redid my living room, I discovered he'd sprayed the walls enough that a lot of sheetrock had to be replaced, but at the time, there was only a faint scent. He lived to 18, dying a day or so after a stroke, on my bed with me. His favorite spot was the upper left corner of my bed, and it took me a long time to get out of the habit of reaching to pet that spot.

There was also Sophocles, the temporary boarder (in September 2003). He was a cat I rescued from an auto accident and took to the U of M animal hospital with a broken leg. He was short-haired, orange, and adolescent. (The full story is here.) The U of M hospital wanted more of a name than "stray," and [livejournal.com profile] pddb had a long-haired orange cat named Aristophanes. This cat was short-haired, so I picked a (to my mind) more accessible Greek author. Once they let me take him home, he stayed in my back room to convalesce; but I already had Gandalf and Pyewacket at that point, and was very dubious about a third cat. Luckily, [livejournal.com profile] elisem was willing to take on an orange cat, and he became Aragorn deMorgan Xylophone Sophocles Cat. I believe he is still around and quite venerable, though I haven't seen him for some years.

Morwen (black female, named after the witch in Pat Wrede's Enchanted Forest series) and Random (Siamese seal-point in appearance, but a total mutt in genetics, named after the character in the Amber books) were littermates. Before Morwen was definitively sexed, I thought she was male, and was going to be named Dominic, after a character in Pamela Dean's Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary. Unfortunately, despite being littermates, once they reached adulthood, they very much did not get along. There was constant fighting, and lots of peeing and pooping in inappropriate locations, most notably my bed. I was at my wit's end, and considering drastic (and possibly terminal) solutions; but thankfully, a slightly less drastic solution opened up. Now Random lives with [livejournal.com profile] txanne in Boston, and Morwen is much, much happier and social as a single cat. I only realized after Random was gone that part of the problem had been that Random was stealing a fair amount of Morwen's food, and she was underweight. Though she looks like a stereotypical Basement Cat, she clearly has Ceiling Cat tendencies, going for the highest spot in the room, even if no normal cat would be able to get up there. (Random got as far as the mantelpiece once, and decided the next leap, to the ceiling beams, was a really bad idea. He may be a goof, but he showed good sense there.) Both cats are now about 8 years old, but you can see them as kittens, along with their two littermates, in the icon for this post.
carbonel: (fairy catmother)
Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] dlandon -- hope it's a good one!
carbonel: (cat with mouse)
Ben Aaronovitch's latest Rivers of London book, The Hanging Tree, just came out -- in England. The eBook is available for sale at amazon.co.uk.

But for people with US IP addresses, it's not available until January at amazon.com.

Bah.

Want it now.
carbonel: (Farthing photo)
Tomorrow, I'm flying to Orlando. I was supposed to fly to Nassau, but there was this hurricane, and the place I was supposed to stay is still closed from the damage. So, instead, I'm flying to Orlando. On Southwest.

On the previous flight, the one to Nassau that was canceled, I'd paid $15 for priority seating, mostly because my mother had it, and I knew she'd be aggravated if I wasn't able to sit near her. Unlike many other airlines, Southwest doesn't charge change fees; it's just that the prices of flights increase as departure time draws near. I was lucky; it only cost me an additional $20 to change my Nassau flight to an Orlando one. But I didn't pay the $15 for priority seating on this one (the $15 I'd paid on the other flight was lost).

Instead, there I was at my computer 24 hours before the flight, because that's the deal with Southwest. If you haven't paid that $15, you take your chances with all the other people who are trying to check in at that magic 24 hours, because your number determines your order to get on the plane and select a seat.

My plane leaves on Sunday at 9:25. At 9:24, I started clicking the refresh button. I got the "it's not 24 hours yet" red warning. I kept clicking. 9:25 passed. 9:26. 9:27. I started clicking every minute or two instead of continuously.

I started feeling paranoid. I checked my ticket again. Yes, it's really leaving tomorrow, at 9:25. And Southwest showed the ticket on the website, so it hadn't been magically canceled.

At 9:55, half an hour after I should have been able to check in, I called Southwest. It took a few clicks through the phone tree, but I got an agent without waiting, and explained the problem. She asked which flight I was on, and I told her. She explained that tonight is the end of Daylight Saving Time, which means the clock goes back, and I'd have to check in at 10:25 instead of 9:25.

I waited the 25 minutes, clicked refresh a bunch of times, and got an excellent number on my first flight and a decent one on the second flight. Paying the $15 probably would have been less stressful on me, but I call it a success.

But honestly, Southwest, a note on the website for 24 hours, reminding people about Daylight Saving, would have been a thoughtful thing to do, not only for check-in, but for the people who don't want to arrive at the airport an hour before they need to.
carbonel: (cubs)
It went down to the wire. It took seven games, 10 innings, almost five hours -- and 108 years -- but the Cubs managed to win it all.

In the greater scheme of things, major league sports don't matter a bit, and there's a lot of money and dubious ethics in the sausage-making machine. But in the lesser scheme of things, as a lifelong Cubs fan, I'm just happy. So very happy.
carbonel: (cubs)
For a game where the Cubs led by at least five runs for most of the game, that was nevertheless quite a nail-biter. I think it was a mistake to bring Chapman in in the seventh inning, but we'll find out tomorrow whether it actually was. If the Cubs lineup can hit tomorrow the way they did tonight, anything can happen.

Fivethirtyeight.com gives the edge to the Indians, 54% to 46%. That's pretty darned close, and quite an improvement from the 15% predicted for the Cubs when they were down three games to one.
carbonel: (cubs)
The Cubs, that is.

The pitchers have ranged from pretty good to amazing all series. It's the hitters that make the difference. Tonight, they got three runs, which was just barely enough. Two games ago, they didn't get any, when two would have won the game.

I've been watching 538.com, though I have no idea how meaningful those statistics actually are. At the start of the World Series, the Cubs were favored 2:1. After the first Cubs loss, those numbers switched. At the start of tonight's game, the prediction was 85% Indians, 15% Cubs. After the Cubs win, they only improved to 23%. If the Cubs manage to win another game, I wonder what the odds will be for game 7. The momentum will be on the Cubs side, but overall, the Indians have hit better. Or I could just go with Charlie Brown, who -- after Lucy recited too many dismal numbers regarding their baseball team -- said, "Tell your statistics to shut up."

It may sound unfaithful to say, but I'm sanguine either way. The Cubs won the pennant, and that makes me very happy. I'd like more, but there's always next year.
carbonel: (cubs)
The Cubs won the the National League Championship Series ("the pennant") tonight, in the sixth game of a best-of-seven series that they won 4 to 2.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] lydy, I got to watch the game in real time. It was as close to a perfect 6th game as I could hope to see. The Cubs led all the way, eventually scoring five runs, and the Cubs pitching and fielding was spectacular, with only the bare minimum of Dodgers batting. Not a literally perfect game; there were two Dodger hits followed, in each case, by a double play. Some people might call it boring, because there was little suspense. Me, I'll take a clear win for my team over suspense any day.

I'm a little sad when I think about all the people who didn't live to see this day: my father, Steve Goodman, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, and so many more. But mostly, I just keep smiling. And humming Steve Goodman's song, "Go, Cubs, Go."

On Tuesday, the Cubs play the first game of the best-of-seven World Series, against the Cleveland Indians. As of tonight, fivethirtyeight.com is favoring the Cubs over the Indians, 63% to 37%. If the Cubs keep playing and pitching the way they did in the last three games, it just might happen.
carbonel: (Cubs lolcat)
Or would be willing to put up with me watching the Cubs game at your place? The game starts at 7 pm.

Tonight is the potential clincher for the National League pennant -- the Cubs are ahead 3-2. Unfortunately, I don't get FS1, the channel the NLCS games are being broadcast on. I do have MLB.tv, which means I can watch the games on time-delay -- playoff games are blacked out until 90 minutes after the end of each game. That's been good enough so far, but for a final game, I really want to watch it live.

Otherwise, I'll probably go to a sports bar, but that probably means no sound. And I don't expect that radio from MLB.tv on my phone and the picture at the bar would sync up.

(I was going to use my local filter for this post, but I can't find a way to invoke it.)
carbonel: (fairy catmother)
Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] kalmn -- hope it's a good one!
carbonel: (Cubs lolcat)
Though I'm not sure how readable it is.

The Cubs, after a brilliant season (103 wins!), won the first two games of the best-of-five National League Division Series. They're playing the San Francisco Giants, who in recent history have come back from a 0-2 deficit to win the series, so nothing is certain yet. The third game will be played on Monday, and I wonder just how many congregations in Chicago will provide game updates during Erev Yom Kippur services.

The Cubs have been here before, too. In 2003, they won the NLDS series handily, and were one game away from winning the National League Champion Series (a best-of-seven series), but lost two games in a row. (I do not blame Steve Garvey; I blame the Cubs.) The NLCS is the series where winning that is winning the pennant -- the thing that the Cubs haven't done since 1945. To quote Steve Goodman, "The last time the Cubs won the National League pennant was the year they dropped the bomb on Japan." After that, should the Cubs win, is the World Series, where the National and American League champions play another best-of-seven series. This means that the number 11 gets bandied about a lot, since it takes 11 wins to go all the way.

The last time the Cubs won the World Series was in 1908. My father used to say, "Hey, anyone can have a bad century." Well, it's been more than a century, and I think we're well overdue. The Cubs have put it all together this year, and they look great. On the other hand, the announcers have pointed out (several times) that of the 22 teams that won more than 100 games, only two won their World Series. One announcer also pointed out that between 1909 and 1944, the Cubs managed to win the pennant and lose the World Series seven times. Kind of like the Vikings, I suppose. (The Vikings have won their first five games this season, despite losing their starting quarterback just before the season started and their star running back in the second week of the season, so who knows what will happen there.)

So I'm hopeful, but not expectant. But I'll be watching all the games, either on regular broadcast or MLB.tv.
carbonel: (grammar cat)
This is currently a placeholder, because I am getting my signup in at the last minute. The real thing will be up as soon as I can manage it.
carbonel: (IKEA cat)
Stanza, my beloved but orphaned ePub reader, no longer works properly after the recent iOS 10 update on my iPhone and iPad. Instead of going from page to page as it ought, it only displays the first page of each chapter.

I could understand an update breaking the app entirely, but I'm totally boggled that it could cause such a minor but disabling bug.

I've been investigating other options, and the good news is that (unlike the last time I tried this), there are options I can stand. My wish list isn't that large, but in the past, most ePub readers have failed on at least one of the requirements. I want the ability to define font, specify font size to a fairly fine granularity, define paragraph indent, define line spacing (leading), define space between paragraphs (should be zero, with paragraphing indicated by indents), set body text to ragged right with hyphenation, and have formatting from the original document (bold and italic) display properly.

Shubook fails on the bold/italic display, and even the large margin setting is just a bit too narrow for my taste.

iBooks fails because the leading isn't configurable, and there's too much space between lines. Also, the font size granularity is too coarse.

Ebook Reader fails because almost nothing but font and font size is configurable. Also, it may have the world's most generic app name. I think I tried it once before, but if so, I'd forgotten. As is likely to happen with generic things.

Bluefire Reader fails because it has a horrible interface and minimal configuration options. Or at least it did the last time I tried it, a couple of years ago. The one thing I have to say in its favor is that there were a couple of badly formatted fanfic works that were readable in Bluefire and totally not in Stanza, at least not without a reformat of the ePub file.

Megareader fails because it doesn't allow indented (not "intended," you silly fingers) paragraphs with no space between. I actually paid for this one (all of $2) back when an iOS upgrade broke Stanza completely (it got better), but never used it regularly.

Gerty is totally new to me since the last time I looked at apps. A first look was very promising, but I soon realized that a) the text scrolls vertically, not page by page (which may be the most sensible way to do it, but my eyes aren't used to it), and b) there doesn't seem to be a way to enable hyphenation. I'm using the free version, and am not inclined to pay the $4 to upgrade, because vertical text scrolling appears to be the only option.

I don't remember why the original Marvin didn't work for me, but I just downloaded the free version of Marvin 3 -- it's apparently an entirely new app optimized for iOS 10. The reviews are quite uneven, but it's looking like the best possibility of the bunch. All of the required features are there, though I'm not sure, once I've tweaked my current eBook to the way I want it, if there's a way to set that as the default for all other books I read on the app. The other annoyance is that the bottom eighth or so of the screen is currently filled with a red bar that promises to go away if I pay $5 for the full version. I can have a day free to check out the full version, but I'm not going to do that tonight.

So if there's no way to bring Stanza back to life, I'll probably settle on Marvin 3. But I expect I'll continue to mourn Stanza for quite a while.

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