The Open Invitation

Oct. 21st, 2017 09:00 am
[syndicated profile] velveteenrabbi_feed

Posted by rbarenblat@gmail.com (Velveteen Rabbi)

 

Noahs-ark-blueChodesh tov: a good and sweet new month to you!

Today we enter the month of Cheshvan, a month that is unique because it contains no Jewish holidays at all. (Except for Shabbat, of course.) After the spiritual marathon of Tisha b'Av and Elul and the Days of Awe and Sukkot and Hoshana Rabbah and Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, now we get some downtime. Some quiet time. Time to rest: in Hebrew, לנוח / lanuach. We've done all of our spiritual work, and now we get to take a break. Right?

Well, not exactly.

When we finish the Days of Awe, we might imagine that the work is over. But I want to posit that the work of teshuvah, of turning ourselves in the right direction, isn't something we ever "complete"... and that Torah's been giving us hints about that, if we know where to look.

Last week we began the Torah again, with Bereshit, the first portion in the book of Genesis. The creation of the cosmos, "and God saw that it was good," the forming of an earthling from earth. Last week's Torah portion also contains the story of Cain and Hevel, the first sibling rivalry in our story. The two bring offerings to God. Hevel brings sheep, and Cain brings fruits of the soil, and God is pleased with the sheep but not with Cain's offering. Cain's face falls, and God says to him, "Why are you distressed?"

It's an odd moment. Surely an all-knowing God understands perfectly well why Cain is upset. This is not rocket science. Two brothers make gifts for their Parent, who admires one gift and pointedly ignores the other one?! Of course Cain feels unappreciated. This is basic human nature. How can it be that God doesn't understand?

The commentator known as the Radak says: God asked this rhetorical question not because God didn't understand Cain's emotions, but because God wanted to spur Cain to self-reflection. God, says the Radak, wanted to teach Cain how to do the work of teshuvah, repentance and return. Imagine if Cain had been able to receive that lesson. Imagine if Cain had had a trusted rabbi or spiritual director with whom he could have done his inner work, seeking to find the presence of God even in his disappointment. But that's not how the story goes. He misses the opportunity for teshuvah, and commits the first murder instead.

That was last week. This week, we read that God sees that humanity is wicked, and God decides to wipe out humanity and start over. But one person finds favor with God: Noach, whose name comes from that root לנוח, "to rest."

And God tells Noah: make yourself an ark out of gopher wood, and cover it over with pitch: "וְכָֽפַרְתָּ֥ אֹתָ֛הּ מִבַּ֥יִת וּמִח֖וּץ בַּכֹּֽפֶר / v'kafarta otah mibeit u-michutz bakofer." Interesting thing about the words "cover" and "pitch:" they share a root with כפרה / kapparah, atonement. (As in Yom Kippur.) It doesn't come through in translation, but the Hebrew reveals that this instruction to build a boat seems to be also implicitly saying something about atonement.

Rashi seizes on that. Why, he asks, did God choose to save Noah by asking him to build an ark? And he answers: because over the 120 years it would take to build the ark, people would stop and say, "What are you doing and why are you doing it?" And Noah would be in a position to tell them that God intended to wipe out humanity for our wickedness. Then the people would make teshuvah, and then the Flood wouldn't have to happen. God wanted humanity to make teshuvah, and once again, we missed the message.

The invitation to make teshuvah is always open. The invitation to discernment, to inner work, to recognizing our patterns and changing them, is always open. And to underscore that message, last week's Torah portion and this week's Torah portion both remind us:  the path of teshuvah was open to Cain, and it was open for the people of Noah's day, and it's open now.

Even if we spent the High Holiday season making teshuvah with all our might, the work isn't complete. We made the teshuvah we were able to make: we pushed ourselves as far as we could to become the better selves we know we're always called to be. But that was so last week. What teshuvah do we need to make now, building on the work we did before?

The word kapparah (atonement) implies covering-over, as Noach covered-over the ark with the covering of pitch. What kapparah hasn't worked for you yet? Where are the places where you still feel as though your mis-steps are exposed? What are the tender places in your heart and soul that need to be lovingly sealed and made safe? This week's Torah portion comes to remind us that we still have a chance to do this work. Will we be wiser than the generation of Noah? Will we hear Torah's call to make teshuvah now with all that we are?

Here's the thing: as long as we live, our work isn't done. I don't know whether that sounds to you like a blessing or a curse. But I mean it as a blessing. Because it's never too late. Because we can always be growing. Because we can always choose to be better.

May this Shabbat Noach be a Shabbat of real menuchah, which is Noah's namesake, and peace, a foretaste of the world to come. And when we emerge into the new week tonight at havdalah, may we be strengthened in our readiness to always be doing the work of teshuvah, and through that work, may our hearts and souls find the kapparah that we most seek.

 

I'm honored and delighted this week to be at Kol HaNeshama in Sarasota, Florida, visiting my dear friend Rabbi Jennifer Singer who blogs at SRQ Jew. This is the d'var Torah I offered there for Shabbat Noach -- which I share with deep gratitude to Rabbi David Markus for sparking these insights.

 

The Adventure Zone

Oct. 21st, 2017 02:04 am
schneefink: (FF Kaylee excited)
[personal profile] schneefink
I just finished listening to "The Adventure Zone" (and by that I mean I literally finished it ten minutes ago, I was typing this up during the last two episodes) and it was amazing and I need to ramble about it. I started it and it didn't really draw me in, I only kept listening because I saw so many people recommending it. Eventually it got better, then around The Eleventh Hour I started to actually enjoy it (finally some character stuff), The Suffering Game wasn't my favorite but that arc's end and the following Lunar Interlude is where the overarching arc got really interesting, and then The Lost Century was really great, and Story and Song was fantastic. It took a long time, but in the end it was worth it. So many feelings. Especially about Taako and [spoiler] *flails*

Spoilers )

I bet it would be fascinating to listen to the whole story again, see how it all looks different now that I know the background, especially because I listened to most of it at work and definitely missed some details. (Not sure I will, at least not right away, because there's a lot of other stuff I want to listen too (live session and Q&As from TAZ alone), but I'll see.)
[syndicated profile] zooborns_feed

Posted by Andrew Bleiman

1_MG_0762

A Black-footed Cat at Utah’s Hogle Zoo gave birth to a single kitten on August 23. Mom and kitten can now be seen on-exhibit in the Zoo’s Small Animal Building.

Although the kitten has had several veterinarian check-ups since birth, staff aren’t yet sure if it is male or female. The wee-one is up for the first round of vaccinations very soon, and keepers hope they will then know the sex and can choose an appropriate name.  

2_MG_0683 copy

3_BabyPhoto Credits: Utah's Hogle Zoo

The Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) is the smallest African cat and endemic to the southwestern arid zone of the southern African sub-region. Despite its name, only the pads and under parts of the cat's feet are black.

It is currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. The wild population is suspected to decline due to bush-meat poaching, persecution, traffic accidents and predation by domestic animals. The species is protected by national legislation across most of its range, and hunting is banned in Botswana and South Africa.

Males reach a head-to-body length of 36.7 to 43.3 cm (14.4 to 17.0 in) with tails 16.4 to 19.8 cm (6.5 to 7.8 in) long. Females typically reach a maximum head-to-body-length of 36.9 cm (14.5 in) and tails 12.6 to 17.0 cm (5.0 to 6.7 in) long. Adult resident males weigh on average 1.9 kg (4.2 lb) and a maximum of 2.45 kg (5.4 lb). Adult females weigh on average 1.3 kg (2.9 lb) and a maximum of 1.65 kg (3.6 lb). The shoulder height is about 25 cm (9.8 in).

Due to their small size, they hunt mainly small prey, such as rodents and small birds. Insects and spiders are a small supplement to their diet. Black-footed Cats hunt mainly by stalking, rather than ambush.

Females reach sexual maturity after 8 to 12 months. Gestation lasts from 63 to 68 days. A litter consists usually of two kittens, but may vary from one to four young.

Females may have up to two litters during the spring, summer, and autumn. They rear their kittens in a burrow, moving them to new locations regularly after the first week. Kittens become independent by five months of age, but may remain within their mother's range.

(no subject)

Oct. 20th, 2017 02:10 pm
kittydesade: (disapproving hauser)
[personal profile] kittydesade
I discovered a new toy from Mary Robinette Kowal's twitter and a friend of mine: 4 The Words and I may never surface again. You fight things and get loot and do quests by writing. That's it. It's perfect. And it has a file save and rudimentary word process system so you don't have to worry about copying it over after (although I do, mostly). I've already written almost 2k worth of background for Jude. It's amazing. ETA: My referral code: QOQOY08535 and NEVER HEAR FROM ME AGAIN.

Promptly following this adrenaline rush I had an unwelcome adrenaline rush of someone has already written this novel. Because literally on two major points, an upcoming YA trilogy was announced that's very very similar to Starlight and I just want to scream. I know it's not necessarily that much of an issue, especially if I don't read it until the second book is drafted and the first book is edited, but ... it hurts? If that makes any sense, it feels like I did all this work only for someone to get there first and better and more shiny and definitely with more publicity money behind and I just want to curl up and cry because all my work is useless anyway.

Which means instead I will do day jobligations, scream in private about the particulars to private friends, talk vaguely about my feelings in public so other people can know this is a common feel, and work on the writing projects in front of me because I know that comes from a place more of emotion than of reality and I know how to deal with it. Yes? ... yeah. It's not even that hard to refocus myself after the first bout of screaming. Being properly medicated, healthy, and not worrying (too much) about money helps a lot.

... What does not help is being so goddamn tired from packing for the fiber show and then now it turns out I need to contact my doctor to get my hormones (BC) refilled and I'm already PMSing something fierce and I kind of just want to burst out crying. At least I have a fair bit of lead time before I'm desperate for the pills but fucksake can't anything be easy or simple ever? I want a higher level adult to come take care of things until I feel rested. Or at least until I've slept 8-10 hours.

Well. I've gotten things done, things are mostly packed, I will come in tomorrow just to pack up the show yarn and then go home, the show is pretty much prepped for as much as it's going to be, and so work should be somewhat less fraught for a while. I hope. Which means energy to do all the other things at home and with writing, as they come up. Or not, since I think the next major deadline is just having things set up for Nanowrimo. Buuuut I do enjoy the writing stuff and to an extent even the cleaning stuff. SO, eh. Hopefully after the weekend and the Monday or Tuesday coming up I will have more energy, feel rested, etc etc, and maybe I won't sulk as much about needing to sleep 7-8 hours like an average person.

(I think what I need here is an icon of sulking.)
havocthecat: shego facepalms at stupid people, and everything else (kim possible shego facepalm)
[personal profile] havocthecat
Thousands of Bats Slaughtered Annually in Asia End up on Ebay and Etsy for Artsy Americans

Oh, of course they're not "ethically sourced," because why would they be when profit is involved?

(You see skeletal art at local craft shows too.)

(I really wasn't creeped out by dead thing art before.)

(Not that I don't understand "killing lots of shit for profit," but also PASSENGER PIGEONS, enough said there.)

(Damn it.)

World Fantasy 2017

Oct. 20th, 2017 09:00 am
marthawells: (The Serpent Sea)
[personal profile] marthawells


Registration for World Fantasy 2017 in San Antonio ends Oct 21, banquet seats still available until Oct 27, and the final program schedule is now online:

http://wfc2017.org/wfc2017/programming/program-schedule/


Panels include:

Paging Doctor Tavener and Carnaki: Occult Detectives Old and Newly Reinvented

Beards and Intrigue: Queering the Historical Fantastic

Exceptional Characters in Horrible Times

Metaphors & Metadata: Libraries in Fantasy Literature

Molly Weasley Was a Bad Ass: Aged Protagonists in Fantasy

From Angry Fairy Queens to Flying Lizard People: An Interview with Toastmaster Martha Wells [Spotlight]

Exploration of Gender in Fantasy

Calamity Jane Defeats Conan—the Persistence of American Folklore in Fantasy Literature

Kitsune & Dragon: Thoughtful Approaches to Alternate Eastern Asias

Greg Manchess: Short Take on a Long Career in Illustration [GoH Spotlight]

Hild and Hilt: the Female Monk, the Lone Woman Protagonist

Hidden Secrets [GoH Spotlight] ( Tananarive Due will discuss the role of history, especially hidden history, in her work and in black horror in general, which is emerging as a sub-genre in the wake of Jordan Peele's Get Out. How horror serves as trauma narratives, or even healing narratives, to help artists and readers come to grips with the past.)

Borrowing from History: Intention and Appropriation

The Role of the City in Fantasy Settings

Religions of the African Diaspora: Beyond Zombies, Ancestors, and Giant Apes.

Urban Legends in the Age of Fake News (Engaging Our Theme IV)

Everybody Was There: Diversity in Fantasy Then and Now

Remembering Zenna Henderson: A Centennial Discussion and Appreciation

Women Authors That Men Don't Read --- Or Do They?

Reinventing the Fantastic Other

Pulp Era Influences: the Expiration Date

New Graphic Novels You Should be Reading

(no subject)

Oct. 19th, 2017 10:26 am
kittydesade: a bright red queen chess piece at the head of a diagonal line of white pawns on a white background (red queen running)
[personal profile] kittydesade
Well, that was a moment of ... irritation more than panic, but still. My Kindle wouldn't turn on for the longest time this morning, and it seemed to have a full charge so I wasn't sure what to do. I plugged it in finally and eventually it started waking up and noticing it was connected to a computer, so I'm guessing it was just at the end of its charge and hadn't flipped over to the 'Hi dumbass your battery dead' screen yet. Still, though. I am getting a damn Kindle for Christmas, I just have to figure out which one. Anyone have an opinion on the subject? I likely would only use it for reading books unless the Fire has amazing word processing capabilities. As far as I can tell though it's meant for output (video, audio, books) not input, which means I'd most likely be inclined to keep a Kindle for reading books and get a tablet for everything else at some nebulous later date.

Winter appears to have shown up giving us about a week of Fall? Maybe? And then just, winter. I exaggerate, but not by much. Yay climate change. I have tomato soup from Trader Joe's, I'm contemplating nice crockpot recipes for broccoli cheddar soup. And potato soup. Though to be fair I already have a recipe for Damn Fine Potato Soup and I just need potatoes and to make sure it crockpots well. (IIRC it does.)

I think I've hit the point where I need to decide, is it worth it getting only the minimum amount of sleep given both the stress of the current administration and winter, where I always need more sleep, or is it going to make me even less productive to stumble around tired not all the time but a good portion of the time. I spent a number of years only really needing 6 hours of sleep most of the year, and I deeply resent that that's no longer the case. But I think it's just going to be worse if I insist on only getting 6 hours and then it turns out I do need more and I'm just fucking tired and slow.

On the plus side I did finally wake up.

And then I made the mistake about complaining on Twitter that this influx of good horror makes me want to write horror but I don't know if I can write horror. My feed was instantly full of friends saying of course I could, which is good, but then someone said something that gave me an explosion of feral blood-eating plotbunnies, which is both better and worse. And now I have another novel to write. Novella? To sum up my current slate of things:

Long Road is in edits
Malachy is with the Editrix
Starlight has just finished getting second drafted
the second Lifestyles of the Modern Witch novel has a synopsis but will be drafted next year
Nerd Girls is waiting for me to finish with Long Road
Jude Against the Ghost Talkers is getting drafted next month.
I released Turing Shrugged on Kindle at the end of last month
White Noise is floating around somewhere with no projected release date

... So the next time I start freaking out about how I can't write fast or produce fast someone roll that list up and beat me with it.

Blergh. It's cold and I should put the gardens away, such as they were this year, and I don't think I wanna. Maybe I'll just do it over the course of the next week. And at some point I need to convince the boy to help me get the black plastic over the garden beds. Or just haul it on myself. Maybe I'll just haul it on myself tomorrow when I get home. Still cold. Still don't wanna.
[syndicated profile] zooborns_feed

Posted by Chris Eastland

1_SB Zoo Otters Born 2

A pair of Asian Small-clawed Otters at the Santa Barbara Zoo produced their first litter of pups. Three healthy offspring were born in a nesting box in their holding area on October 7.

As in the wild, Otter parents prefer to keep their pups safely tucked in a den. The Zoo’s newborn Otters will not leave the behind the scenes holding area until they are old enough to safely swim and have grown the teeth needed to eat solid foods.

Depending on how their development progresses, keepers estimate the pups could go on exhibit as early as mid-December.

Animal Care staff had recently confirmed that new mom, Gail, was pregnant and estimated that she was due any day. When keepers arrived the morning of October 7, Gail and the father, Peeta, remained in the nesting box.

“The parents didn’t come out to greet us, and then we heard squeaks,” said the Zoo’s Curator of Mammals Michele Green. “That’s how we knew Gail had given birth.”

Gestation is 68 days, and after birthing, the female stays in the nesting box with the pups. Otter moms are given some relief, however, when new dads take over care for short periods of time.

2_SB Zoo Otters Born 3

3_SB Zoo Otters Born 1Photo Credits: Santa Barbara Zoo

Both of the adult Otters are first-time parents. According to keepers, the pair is showing excellent parenting skills toward the two females and one male.

“Gail only arrived in March and it’s been fun to watch them bond, and now become parents,” says Green. “She’s a young mom, but doing very well. Peeta is attentive and diligent.”

Peeta was born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in 2008. Gail was born at the Greensboro Science Center in North Carolina in 2013. The two were paired as part of a cooperative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The names (inspired by characters in the popular “Hunger Games” books and movies) were given by their Santa Barbara Zoo sponsors, Peter and Pieter Crawford-van Meeuwen.

Another female, Katniss, was first paired with Peeta, but they did not breed. She passed away in December 2016 from a kidney ailment.

The last time Asian Small-clawed Otters were born at the Zoo was in May 2011 when six pups were born to a pair named Jillian and Bob. That pair also produced five young in August 2010, the first of the species to be born at the Zoo in more than 20 years. The entire family group later moved to the National Zoo, where they live today.

Keepers predict that by January, the pups should be proficient swimmers, and will be on-exhibit at that time. Information on the progress of the Otter pups will be made available at the Zoo’s website: www.sbzoo.org .

Although the Asian Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea syn. Amblonyx cinereus) is only listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, the species is seriously threatened by rapid habitat destruction for palm oil farming and by hunting and pollution. They are considered an “indicator species,” meaning their population indicates the general health of their habitat and of other species.

The species is the smallest Otter in the world and lives in freshwater wetlands and mangrove swamps throughout Southeast Asia, including southern India and China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Borneo, and the Malay Peninsula. They prefer quiet pools and sluggish streams for fishing and swimming.

Unlike Sea Otters, they spend more time on land than in water, but they are skillful, agile swimmers and divers, with great endurance. They can stay submerged for six to eight minutes.

Asian small-clawed otters are about two feet long and weigh less than ten pounds (half the size of North American River Otters). Their claws do not protrude beyond the ends of the digital pads, thus their names, and their feet do not have fully developed webbing and look very much like human hands.

They are one of the few species of Otter that live in social groups. The bond between mated pairs of Asian Small-clawed Otters is very strong. Both the male and female raise the young and are devoted parents. In the wild, Asian Small-clawed Otters live in extended family groups of up to 12 individuals. The entire family helps raise the young, which are among the most active and playful of baby animals.

Me and Star Wars

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:38 am
marthawells: (Stargate)
[personal profile] marthawells
Forgot to post this here yesterday:

Star Wars and me, when I was a lonely 13 year old: http://www.unboundworlds.com/2017/10/a-long-time-ago-martha-wells-how-star-wars-inspired-writing/

I was an isolated kid in a lot of ways, and didn’t know anybody else who really liked SF as much as I did. And I’d been told over and over again that liking SF/F, or liking anything involving books and media so intensely, was weird and strange and probably bad, or if not bad, something that made me a figure of ridicule. It was especially bad for a girl to like those things, but I was sure to get over it when I grew up and stopping being silly. I knew I wasn’t the only one, I knew there were other people like me out there; all these books and comics had been written by people, for people. But before Star Wars, it was hard to believe those people really existed.

Then I read this movie novelization, and read it again, and made the two whole friends I had read it, and we read it aloud to each other, and acted it out. And finally, a month or so after the movie came out, I got to see it. It was a shock at first, so different from how I’d imagined it from the book. But it wrote itself into my DNA and it’s still there, so many years later.

(no subject)

Oct. 18th, 2017 09:38 pm
kittydesade: (and so good night)
[personal profile] kittydesade
Aargh so tired. I keep thinking okay, tomorrow will be quiet, but it keeps not happening and since till next Thursday or so is the run-up to SAFF it will keep not happening until next Thursday. And I am so damn tired. I'm surprised I managed to finish a scene in Starlight today and get my words done. There's some more on my Habitica to do for the day but I can't bring myself to go look at it yet.

On the plus side, Memrise being so much more usable on the app even than on the website means I can play with it for five minutes' worth of breathing room.

Mostly I'm just tired. I don't think I'm even dropping anything I have to do except I guess Long Road, which has no immediate deadline at least. I should be doing something else but I'm too brain dead now to think about it. No, what I should be doing is using Habitica to make lists of things as I think of them and then checking them off, that's what it's there for.

But right now I should be going to sleep.

unexpectedly free evenings

Oct. 18th, 2017 04:31 pm
lireavue: An auburn-haired woman, her back to the camera, looks up at the full moon. (howl at the moon)
[personal profile] lireavue
*C has a workshop in Milwaukee today and a teleconference meeting with China and Japan branches tomorrow night, so I'm taking advantage of this to pretty much flail around being a spinster for a bit. Tonight that looks like L coming over with tuna steaks and us making food he won't eat. Tomorrow it looks tragically normal (full of rehearsal and lesson), but I'll probably stay out a bit doing PokeGo stuff if I feel the need to wander.

*Surprisingly absolutely nobody, getting the apartment to a reasonable state of cleanliness gives me a minimum of one spoon/day back. Today I used that spoon to take a walk to the park. Then I discovered that with no fucking trees for windbreak, it was NOT NICE even with a hoodie.

*Pursuant to both Jag and [personal profile] alatefeline's nudges, I took Benadryl Monday night. I promptly didn't wake up for 11-12 hours, but the renos downstairs appear to be grinding to a finish and I haven't felt truly Miserable And Awful since I took it, so either it was indeed allergies kicked up by the extra dust or it was the beginnings of a cold and infinite sleep let my immune system beat it up.

*Birthday shenanigans this weekend are sadly not very shenanigan-y, due to overall lack of people who feel like driving to see me. Which is fair! Stupid adulthood. Just, bah, I was hoping for HELP eating my birthday cake this year, since L has absolutely no sense of proportion with birthday cakes. None. At all. And at the rate the day job is eating Jag's FACE I'm not gonna get weaving supplies until... I don't even fucking know, maybe after SAFF. Again: which is fine, understandable, adulthood is a bear, I'm just mildly sad. Next year I go back to my standby of LALALALA I REFUSE TO PLAN NOTHING EVER WORKS OUT so I can't be disappointed. This has been my stance since shortly after college and man if I'd adopted it DURING college I would've had a lot fewer disappointing/upsetting birthdays.

*This is also the season of various half-revelations and epiphanies and I would just like them to stop happening? Nothing particularly NEW, for those I've IMed about them, just oh my god, could we not. I am le tired. They run the gamut from L's comments about me as the dominant personality of the three of us (about half-true, C just doesn't NEED to be an overwhelming force at us, he does enough of that at work) to ... hell, I forgot what the one earlier this week was, I don't think I wrote it down in anyone's chat window either. Dammit. To various strains of coping with the certainty of no, I am disabled, this is my life, I can basically only expect a certain level of improvement unless they agree to zap my brain with magnets sometime soon. Which has been going on in the background since AUGUST and I would like to stop ruminating on it? I just haven't figured out what the ruminants are trying to tell me.

*Very slowly working on bargaining myself into x rows of knitting for every round of Cooking Craze. Not shockingly, I feel BETTER with the knitting. Not that my brain likes admitting that. I am so replacing it with a small shell script, magnets aside.

Wednesday

Oct. 18th, 2017 11:07 pm
schneefink: (FF Kaylee in hammock)
[personal profile] schneefink
On the one hand there's a ton I want to post about, but on the other hand it's mostly unfinished thoughts, so I haven't posted anything, which seems very reflective of my current state of mind. But I'll get better! I also have flatmates who bake me stuff.

There are many things I read/watched that I want to write about but then somehow I don't get around to it (books, Critical Role, Bright Sessions, The Good Place etc.) and other stuff that I can't mention right now because it's for Yuletide. Yuletide will be fun! DD signed up for the first time and we'll do writing sessions together. We started today, writing stuff we should finish before we get started on our Yuletide stories. Quote by DD: "Instead of cannibalistic torture they're now going to drink a glass of wine and I'm very confused what happened." Meanwhile I'm writing awkward hugs. We balance each other so well. And Sunday all three of us are planning a day of baking/cooking/eating/studying/writing/playing boardgames together, it'll be fun.

(no subject)

Oct. 17th, 2017 05:49 pm
kittydesade: A series of arches centered, seemingly endless (endless doorways)
[personal profile] kittydesade
Looking at the texture of that cheese spread I think I overdid it on the cranberry goop. Oh darn. So I'll keep it chilled and when I go to the grocery in a few days I'll get more mascarpone and cream cheese and there will be more cheese ball dip thing. Still tastes pretty good though, upon dipping in a test cracker.

Blergh. I'm way behind on Inktober but not, apparently, behind on writing so much since right now I'm supposed to be prepping for Nanowrimo and working on Lifestyles synopses and Long Road. (Note to self: The thing you're looking for about tracing over existing maps? Is here. Which isn't the worst thing in the world. And then, obviously, finishing Starlight and Boon Doggie and maybe outlining The Fae After Tomorrow so I can get to work on it after I recover from Nano. That works as a plan for the rest of the month. I still don't know if I put up the schedule on Patreon but I guess it's a little late for that? Argh. Maybe not, there's only two patrons on that level.

We had a couple of days after we'd put the plants up of Mikey not throwing up but now he's back to throwing up roughly once every 24 hours again and ugh. I don't know. I'm a little worried. I'm a lot anxious but all his other signs are pretty good, the only other test we could run would be an ultrasound to see if something major is wrong. And otherwise it might just be an irritable digestive tract or something, but he won't bloody eat the food for sensitive kitty tummies. Well, he'll eat the dry food well enough, but definitely not the wet. I just don't know. Mikey why must you be so difficult.

(Mikey shrugs and scampers around the house yowling because his energy and every other function is fine, it's just this vomiting thing. Not hairballs and not bolting his food too fast, both of which he's done before but then we knew why.)

I feel a discontent in my head. Not sure why. I'm on time with my writing, the house isn't completely filthy and we're slowly figuring out all the longer term places to put things so half the mess isn't shuffling things from place to place. Work was quiet and not annoying. So what is this? Is this PMS? Current events? Which it bloody well could be. Impending dealing with the Healthcare Marketplace? (Oh god.) Feh. I blame Hamlet.
[syndicated profile] zooborns_feed

Posted by Andrew Bleiman

1 - Tasmanian Devil Joeys

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is pleased to announce the arrival of two healthy litters of Tasmanian Devil joeys! According to keepers, this is one of the most successful years to date for the Zoo’s Tasmanian Devil conservation breeding program.

The first litter of three joeys arrived on March 19 to mother Lana. Keepers were recently able to take a close look at each joey and confirm their sex (two males and one female). Another female, Pooki, birthed four joeys more recently on June 19, which are yet to emerge from the pouch.

“We’re very pleased to see nurturing, maternal instincts from both Lana and Pooki, who are both two-year-old females and first-time mothers,” Taronga Western Plains Zoo Senior Keeper Steve Kleinig said.

“The three joeys born in March…are now weaned (meaning they have left mother Lana’s pouch) but they still remain close by her side. They are now playing with each other and exploring independently outside the den.”

“The four joeys born in June are starting to open their eyes and become more aware of their surroundings. While they are still attached to their mother's teats, we’re expecting they will begin to leave their mother’s pouch in the coming weeks,” Steve said.

2 - Tasmanian Devil Joeys

3 - TWPZ Keepers Hayley Brooks  Karen James and Rachel Schildkraut with Tasmanian Devil JoeysPhoto Credits: Taronga Western Plains Zoo (Image 3: Keepers Hayley Brooks, Karen James, and Rachel Schildkraut)

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is part of a national insurance population program designed to help save the Tasmanian Devil from becoming extinct as a result of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease*.

The Zoo’s breeding success this year is the result of a more targeted approach, and has benefited from favorable breeding recommendations. These are based on the unique characteristics and genetics of a breeding pair and, combined with their compatibility upon meeting, can determine breeding success.

“We are continuing to collaborate with other breeding institutions to improve the long-term viability of our program, such as Devil Ark in the Barrington Tops, where Lana and Pooki came from, and Tasmania’s Trowunna Wildlife Park, where the father originated,” Steve said.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo has two breeding facilities for the Tasmanian Devil located behind the scenes. The Zoo has bred 31 healthy Tasmanian Devil joeys so far - a significant boost to the regional zoo-based insurance population of this endangered species.

With Tasmanian Devil numbers in the wild currently dwindling to between 15,000 and 50,000 individuals, every birth is significant. The mainland breeding program of which the Zoo is a part could play an important role in helping to re-establish healthy wild populations of the species in Tasmania if needed in future.

The Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is a carnivorous marsupial of the family Dasyuridae. It was once native to mainland Australia, but it is now found only in the wild on the island state of Tasmania, including tiny east coast Maria Island where there is a conservation project with disease-free animals.

The Tasmanian Devil is the size of a small dog and became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the Thylacine in 1936. It is related to Quolls and distantly related to the Thylacine.

It is characterized by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odor, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell, and ferocity when feeding. The Tasmanian Devil's large head and neck allow it to generate among the strongest bites per unit body mass of any extant mammal land predator, and it hunts prey and scavenges carrion as well as eating household products if humans are living nearby.

A breeding Tasmanian Devil female can produce up to 50 young that are about the size of a grain of rice. Competition for survival is fierce, and only the first four joeys are able to latch onto the mother’s teats.

In 2008, the Tasmanian Devil was assessed and classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN. In 2009, the Australian Government also listed the species as “Endangered”, under national environmental law.

*Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is an infectious cancer that only affects Tasmanian Devils, and is transmitted through biting, fighting and mating. Since the first official case of DFTD in Australia in 1996, there has been a decline of up to 50-70 per cent of the Tasmanian Devil population across the majority of Tasmania.

havocthecat: amy pond of doctor who with a magnifying glass (dw amy pond investigates)
[personal profile] havocthecat
I usually ignore the salt measurements except when baking, and just salt to taste, but that's because I've been cooking since I've been old enough to drag a chair to the stove and push vegetables around on a skillet. This is potentially disastrous to people who don't know as much about cooking!

Sometimes your recipes call for a specific type of salt - and there could be an actual reason why. Not if it's trendy salt, usually, but if it's "sea salt," Diamond kosher salt, or Morton's kosher salt, there's a specific reason and you should actually pay attention. Who knew?

I mean, I've been cooking for multiple decades and I had no fucking clue before this morning, so if you didn't know, don't feel bad! Hell, Bon Appetit magazine didn't even know until 2013, and they're goddamn Bon Appetit gourmet magazine.

This is going to make a world of difference in my pickling, that's for sure. No wonder my pickled turnips always turn out too salty.

The Kosher Salt Question

Tagline: Prized for its purity and flaky texture, kosher salt has been a home-cooking standard for decades. But the two major brands, Diamond Crystal and Morton, are very different products. Your ruined meatballs can attest.

Rabbi Roundtable at the Forward

Oct. 17th, 2017 04:13 am
[syndicated profile] velveteenrabbi_feed

Posted by rbarenblat@gmail.com (Velveteen Rabbi)

Rabbi-roundtable-1508161760The good folks at the the Forward have started up a new series they're calling Rabbi Roundtable. They chose 17 rabbis from across the denominational spectrum, and they're posing questions to us and sharing our answers. 

The first one of these has just gone live, and the question they chose to ask this week is, "What is the biggest threat facing the Jewish people today?" Here are our answers: Rabbi Roundtable / What's the Biggest Threat to the Jewish People? Deep thanks to the editors at the Forward for including me as a leading voice of Jewish Renewal.

(no subject)

Oct. 16th, 2017 07:57 pm
kittydesade: (waiting for the night)
[personal profile] kittydesade
I was not so good over the weekend as far as housecleaning went, partly because exhausted? lazy? both? and partly because PMS was kicking my ass. But I did get some things picked up, my side of the media cabinet straightened (next up might be getting books put back and the pedestal thing moved into the office like we said we'd do so I can get the ladder up to the bookshelves proper) and dinner made when we were eating dinner instead of just scrounging, so I'll call that a net household win. No additional messes were made and left and some were cleaned up.

And! And I remembered to schedule two patreon posts upcoming, which is also a win since I haven't been regular about that at all up till hopefully now. And I managed to only get a little distracted by projects that are Not What I Should Be Working on (*cough Italian Renaissance families cough*) mainly because I found a scrap of paper with some information I needed to enter into a Scriv file on it.

Work kicked my ass today so writing happened considerably less than I wanted to but I got almost to the shooting part of the one scene, which may or may not even fit in anymore but I might as well write it as I outlined it in case some part of that still fits. Less editing and absolutely no note taking although I might do some reading before bed. Probably just silly language quizzes and physics videos.

I guess the plus side to all of this is I have the spaghetti sauce and the cranberry orange cheese spread made now, plus most of the ridiculousness at work today was dealt with in its entirety so I don't have to deal with it tomorrow. Which hopefully will mean I can get more writer work done! I am so close to finishing this novel and having the moment of if I didn't have to work a day job I would have this done by now. Sigh.

(To be fair even if I didn't have to work a day job today was eventful enough that I would probably have stayed all eight hours and been home and done cooking anyway. But still.)
lireavue: A woman in white in a mountain pool. (creature of water)
[personal profile] lireavue
*Nearly to the other half of the ribbing on the capelet, so shortly I should be able to start the... third one, and the first with colorwork eek.

*Self that was not a cue to come up with an even more intricate way to do the colorwork EVEN IF you probably could succeed at it, stop that.

*Downstairs neighbor moved out last week HURRAY but now they're doing the carpet/paint/repair rounds so that someone else can move in. On the upside, Dire Noises from below is less "OH GOD THERE'S A LEOPARD IN THE TREE IT'S GONNA EAT ME" than the roofers, and so I can both be calmer for the cat's sake and play guessing games as to just what on earth they could POSSIBLY be drilling in the CEILING. Although given the extent of the noises, I suspect they're doing the full remodel to update the style from the late 80s/early 90s. Which involves ceiling fans and lights going in - quite nice ones! - and would account for the drilling directly beneath my laptop.

*I appear to be having a miserable allergy attack? or an oncoming cold. I'm hoping for the former because fuuuuuck getting sick I don't care if it's a tradition right around my birthday. Hmph. It IS, however, also that time of year where everything gets shut up and my indoor allergies slowly go bonkers.

*Wrote my first Irish tune ever, which does not suck! I... keep seriously underestimating both my knowledge of the genre and my basic grounding in theory, which lets me write something passable off a couple bars of randomly-generated notes. Like sure: not gonna win awards for composition here, but it's fundamentally playable - by more than one instrument, even - and makes musical sense.

*Related: I can now play a full 96 bars in spiccato (that's bow-bouncing) as an exercise, which means the strengthening stuff I was doing to target my bow grip has had EXACTLY the effect I needed it to. Mildly twinge-y for a minute or so right after, but otherwise totally fine after running warm water over my hands and doing quick stretches.

*Maybe this time (as I'm pretty sure this is not the first time I've come up with the brain-hack), the idea of doing dishes after practice as a PART of tending to my assorted musician needs will stick? That'd be nice. Because it really does help to have warm water on my hands after I work my cranky ass off on the fiddle.

*I think I've crawled out of the anhedonia enough to care about shit again. I just don't have the spoons to DO all the shit I care about at once, so I'm having to rigorously pace myself and check back in with, am I too tired to do X? What about Y? etc. This eats exactly as many spoons that I could otherwise use TO do stuff as you fucking think, and I fucking resent it. Not enough to take the hit and go crashing back down, though.

*As it might be up some of my droll's alley for mocking if nothing else: I strongly advise against Mindhunters, the new Netflix how-did-we-learn-to-classify-serial-killers series, if you have any gore squicks/triggers. I was in the perfect mood to watch and mock to folks in chat! And within the first five minutescut for gore ). Now, I'm honestly one of the harder people to make run away from gore? I watch The Last Kingdom for shits and giggles, you guys. I keep thinking about picking up Vikings and not being quite sure if I'm up to that level of gore, as it seems to be up a notch or two from TLK, but the point stands. THAT SAID, that is USUALLY a bridge too far for shows, and they cut away, or they'll have a convenient bit of scenery/blocking to hide the worst of it, or SOMETHING. But no. No definitely not. And I'm not up for the casual ablism of the 1970s or whenever the fuck that was supposed to be, either.

Anyway. SO NOW YOU KNOW. Since Netflix kept going "oh you liked Criminal Minds WATCH THIS WATCH IT WATCH IT" and I kept going "...not for actual FUN, guys."

*I think I am going to hit post and pull silly iPhone games over my head for a bit, then tackle the next bathroom to clean, then dinner and so forth. If I'm very lucky, this will NOT be another death-plague and I can get some editing done tonight for White Noise.
[syndicated profile] zooborns_feed

Posted by Andrew Bleiman

1_Rhino Calf 2488 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Wilds welcomed a female Southern White Rhinoceros calf born in the pasture during the afternoon of October 5. The calf is the second fifth-generation White Rhino to be born outside of Africa (both fifth-generation calves were born at The Wilds).

The new calf was born to second-time mother, Anan, and first-time father, Roscoe. Anan’s first calf, a male named Letterman (born at The Wilds in 2014), was the first fifth-generation White Rhino to be born outside of Africa.

Anan had a notable birth herself, as she was the first fourth-generation Rhino to be born outside of Africa, and she, too, was born at The Wilds. Anan’s mother, Zen, was the very first Rhino born at The Wilds in 2004 and is still a part of the conservation center’s breeding herd.

The Wilds animal management team members have observed that the new calf is strong and is nursing in the pasture. This is the 17th White Rhino born at The Wilds; the conservation center has also produced seven Asian One-horned Rhinos.

2_Rhino Calf 2539 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

3_Rhino Calf 2665 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

4_Rhino Calf 2753 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Grahm S. Jones / Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The breeding recommendations are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) to enhance conservation of these species in their native range and to maintain a sustainable population of rhinos in human care.

“Every birth at The Wilds is significant, but this one is particularly special to us. With each new generation of Rhinos born, it is a testament to the success of the breeding program at The Wilds but more importantly a success for this species as a whole. The Wilds is proud to be a part of the conservation initiatives ensuring the survival of this species,” said Dr. Jan Ramer, vice president of The Wilds.

The White Rhino population had dwindled to perhaps only 50-200 at the beginning of the 20th century, but through conservation efforts, the population of White Rhinos in their native African range has rebounded to about 20,400 animals. However, even with the increase in numbers, the species remains classified as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). All five remaining Rhino species in Africa and Asia (White Rhinoceros, Black Rhinoceros, Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros, and Sumatran Rhinoceros) are persecuted by poachers who sell the horns for ornamental or traditional medicinal purposes, even though there are no scientifically proven health benefits for its use. The horns are made of keratin—the same substance that makes up fingernails and hair. The International Rhino Foundation, which receives support from The Wilds, estimates that one Rhino is killed every eight hours for its horn.

The Southern White Rhinoceros or Southern Square-lipped Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) is one of the two subspecies of the White Rhinoceros (the other being the Northern White Rhinoceros). It is the most common and widespread subspecies of Rhino.

White Rhino calves are born after a gestation of 16 months and they can grow to be 4,000 pounds and six feet tall at their shoulder. Their natural habitats are plains or woodlands, interspersed with grassy openings. Through reintroduction efforts, their current range in the wild is in southern and eastern African countries.

Their physical characteristics are two pointed horns and a wide mouth suitable for grazing. The name White Rhinoceros originated from the Afrikaans word describing the animal’s mouth: wyd, meaning “wide.” Early English settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the word wyd for “white.”

To further protect the future of Rhinos, The Wilds and the Columbus Zoo has provided more than $196,000 in the last five years in support of conservation projects benefiting Rhinos in their native ranges, such as monitoring Black and White Rhinos in Zimbabwe’s Lowveld region through the International Rhino Foundation and protecting Black Rhinos in the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary in Kenya through the African Wildlife Foundation.

5_Rhino Calf 2705 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

6_Rhino Calf 2552 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

7_Rhino Calf 2696 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

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