Not a Pretty Girl

I ain't no damsel in distress

Recipe: Chicken and Dumplings
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These are more like guidelines than an actual recipe.  This is something I've been making off and on for the last 15 years or so and started out life as the chicken fricassee recipe in the 1971 edition of the Fanny Farmer cookbook (the One True cookbook). It's a great way to stretch out chicken and use up leftover bits of frozen vegetables.  You can make with a roux or not, as you prefer. I've done it both ways and it's equally tasty.  If you can't have gluten, you can substitute rice or potatoes for the dumplings.

You'll need a large saucepan or stockpot with a lid.

Put some fat in your pan. If you want this to be thick, this is where you'd do the roux--just cook it enough to get rid of the floury taste.  Put a chopped onion in and stir it around a bit. If you have carrots and/or celery, throw those in, too (I hate celery so don't use it). Salt and pepper can happen here, too. Once that all starts to soften up a bit you can put your chicken in or you can go ahead and add your liquid. Chicken broth is pretty good and I usually put in some milk, too.  If you're doing this with a roux, you'd want to have measured how much fat & flour you used and use the right amount of liquid--although I've totally added more liquid than I "should" have been able to and gotten a reasonably thick soup out of the whole thing.

At this point you should definitely add your chicken if you haven't already along with any other veg you want. We used some sad freezer burned corn last night. Peas are good, too, and if you are mushroom person I expect that those would work, too. I am emphatically not a mushroom person. Anyhow, bring this sucker up to a low boil and let it do it's thing for a few minutes--you want all your vegetables to be mostly cooked before adding dumplings.

Now, I just use Bisquick to make the dumplings, but if you want to get fancy and make dumplings from scratch, knock yourself out.  At any rate, once things have been boiling for a few minutes, put your dumplings in and cook according to directions (Bisquick is 10 minutes uncovered, 10 minutes covered, then done).

If you want to do rice instead of dumplings, you have a couple of options. You can make it like a soup with rice, in which case you'd add however much rice you'd need for it to still be soup once the rice is cooked or you can add enough rice to absorb all the liquid and make this more like a stove top casserole sort of thing.  If you do the latter, you can stir in some cheese at the end.  

This will get dinner on the table in about an hour.

I know that this is not fancy cooking, but it's the sort of thing I really like and is the sort of thing I am really good at cooking. And it's filling and relatively inexpensive and uses up stuff that may be languishing in the freezer or fridge.  And it reheats pretty well and can be frozen (without the dumplings).

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Readercon: Some Members are More Equal than Others
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I had a really great time at Readercon this year. It was my first year on programming, I made some new friends, and I was planning on returning next year (whether or not they wanted me back as a participant)--it had, in the three years I've attended, become one of the highlights of my year.

Now, in light of the harassment of Genevieve Valentine by Rene Walling and the convention's Board of Directors complete and total failure to follow their own written zero-tolerance policy (this is neither the time nor the place to discuss the pros or cons of such policies), I can't see myself returning as long as the convention is not safe for women.

Here's some context:
Genevieve Valentine's original post about the incident
Genevieve Valentines's post about the Board's decision
The Board's official statement

I am absolutely horrified and appalled that this happened to[livejournal.com profile] glvalentine and that the Board of Directors has publicly prioritized her harasser's contrition over her safety. I am grateful that she has spoken up and made this a public issue and named names.

Readercon was recommended to me by a trusted friend several years ago as a good convention for me to attend and the reason I felt safe attending it by myself was because they had a clear and explicit harassment policy. Which, apparently, is doesn't count if you're a BNF/SMOF. It only counts if you're a person with a mental illness that no one likes anyhow (as was the case with the person banned for life in 2008 , shortly after the zero tolerance policy went into effect).

ETA
It has been quite rightfully pointed out to me in the comments over on LJ that the person banned in 2008 was banned for being a serial harasser as well; I was attempting to point out that two individuals here, while both serial harassers, are different in ways that make one more likely to be given a second chance and the other not to be. I should have been more clear.  If you have a policy, it needs to be applied equally to everyone, not just the people who are obviously creepy and scary as I gather the 2008 person was. END ETA

If you're a BNF/SMOF and if you're really sorry (about getting caught), you get a slap on the wrist--that's what the Board's decision tells me. It tells me that I will not be taken seriously if I were to be harassed by another convention member.  I am a good target for a serial harasser who is looking to not get caught--I have social anxiety, am not well-connected, and am often alone. I had thought that I would be taken seriously if something were to happen. Now I know that's not true.

What a terrible message to send, Readercon Board of Directors. Thank you for making sure to let me know that I am not welcome but that serial harassers, as long as they are sorry enough for being caught and as long as they're well-connected, are. I won't be recommending the convention to anyone.
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Home Needed - Cat in Chester, PA
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My co-worker Patt's mother passed away this week and her cat needs a home.  The cat's name is Buffy, sex undetermined (they assume female), about six years old.  She's an indoor/outdoor cat--prefers to use the outside as a bathroom, but will use a litter box if necessary.  She is friendly but has never been around children or dogs.  Patt will take her to the vet and get her up to date on all shots prior to re-homing.

If you or anyone you know can take Buffy in, let me know--either via comments at Dreamwidth or email at eilatan at gmail.com.

This is a public post, feel free to link widely.

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2010 RT Reviewers Choice Award Nominees
sheila-na-gig - whee!
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Since the January issue of RT is now out, I can make my list of nominees public (this is a public post).  There's also blurbage from me about which books I'm most looking forward to in 2011--those would be Jo Walton's Among Others and N.K. Jemisin's The Kingdom of the Gods--in the front half of the magazine, too.  And a review of Among Others (I loved it).

You can see the full list of nominees here.  Winners will be announced at the convention in April.

Science Fiction
Duane, Diane Omnitopia Dawn
Grant, Mira Feed
Okorafor, Nnedi Who Fears Death
Stross, Charles The Fuller Memorandum
Willis, Connie Blackout/All Clear

Fantasy
Baker, Kage The Bird of the River
Downum, Amanda The Bone Palace
Kay, Guy Gavriel Under Heaven
Kowal, Mary Robinette Shades of Milk and Honey
Jemisin, N.K. The Broken Kingdoms

Epic Fantasy
Bernobich, Beth Passion Play
Graham, Jo Stealing Fire
Jemisin    N.K., The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Modesitt, Jr., L.E. Arms-Commander
Shinn, Sharon Troubled Waters

Career Achievement
Diane Duane
Lynn Flewelling
Guy Gavriel Kay
Sharon Shinn
Connie Willis
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Relevant Linkage!
ani - not a pretty girl
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Hey [personal profile] laughingrat!  I saw this in my feed-reader and thought of you!

This, too!  (totally stolen from the comments in the first link)
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Detroit 1-8-7 / Local Politics
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Dear Writers of Detroit 1-8-7,

You may want to do a little bit of research into Michigan law.  If you did, you would find out that the death penalty is prohibited by the state's constitution and, therefore, is useless as a lever to get suspects to confess to a murder.

Also, last week you used the word "soda".  This is also wrong.  It's "pop".  You are filming this show in Detroit.  You would think you could get some locals to check this stuff for you.

I am enjoying the set-up of what I hope is a nice meaty story arc featuring the real estate developer with deep pockets.  Please make him from Oakland County, please please please.  That would be awesome.

Best regards,
Natalie


Dear Christine O'Donnell,

Please get off my television.  Your television ad is as substance-less as the three mailings my household has received thus far.  Or, rather--that my husband has received, since I am apparently beneath your campaign's notice as a registered Democrat. 

At least your website has more than just a giant fundraising button on it now, I guess.  I think your policy statements are still a bit light on substance, though.  Maybe you should work on that while you're avoiding the local press--in addition to avoiding the national press, I see.

Not voting for you,
Natalie


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Five Things Make a Post
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  1. We bought a Furminator for Princess Pixel von Short und Round.  While it was not cheap, it was worth every penny.  Pixel loves it and it's the first thing I've used on her that has really seemed to get nearly all the loose hair off her.
  2. I read a really great book this weekend--Amanda Downum's The Bone Palace.  It's out in December and it features a completely awesome POV character who is transgender--and it's be just a thing that some people are (which is how it SHOULD be, dammit).   It also hit a bunch of my personal relationship kinks, so hurray for that (N.K. Jemisin's The Broken Kingdoms also managed that earlier this month--also another fantastic book and one that I can't recommend enough--I think it's better than The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms).
  3. I'm working my way through DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue and so far, so good.  The pace of leveling is really strange and I keep getting items that I can't use for several levels.  The current record is a ray gun that I got at level 7 and won't be able to use until level 13.  While that's really frustrating, the game is still quite fun.
  4. I have a conundrum with the black pants I ordered.  When I ordered them, they were back ordered to 9/17.  On 9/17, the back order date was changed to 9/24.  On 9/24, the date was changed to 10/8.  At no time have I actually gotten an email from the store about the back order--I've had to go to their website and look at the item.  I get that they had a big pants sale during August which depleted their inventory, but I despair of this turning into a Woman Within situation where I wait months for back ordered items and then never actually get them and having them cancel my order three months in to the wait (during which time I do not attempt to locate other pants).  Now, I know where I can get other well made pants in my size that are not on back order at a comparable price.  Do I cancel the outstanding order and place an order elsewhere?  Do I leave the outstanding order in place and place an order elsewhere anyhow?  Do I wait and see how long it takes me to actually get the pants?
  5. I got two awesome necklaces and three excellent magnets from sienamystic!  I can't wait to wear the necklaces and the magnets are going to be excellent additions to my workspace decorations.  Yay!
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A lovely pile of boxes!
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Here, have a blurry but not too terribly bad picture of me as my entry in the "take a picture of yourself and post it to the internets without using Photoshop" meme. You can see my lovely pile of boxes behind me--moving downstairs tomorrow, then to cubelandia next month.

Picture here!Collapse )

In other news, my phone thinks I'm in Tanzania (Shinyanga, to be precise). Which I am most assuredly not. Last time this happened, it was Mozambique.  My phone apparently thinks I should travel.  If going to Tanzania or Mozambique didn't involve airplanes, I'd be all over that.  Since it does, I think I'll just play the Hoodoo Gurus' "Zanzibar" and be done with it (man, I wish I hadn't looked up the lyrics to that song, dammit).

Had a pretty good weekend: finished playing Castle Crashers with T&K, knit a pair of fingerless mitts that will become a Christmas gift (they are very much Not My Style), had the exact ice cream I was wanting (Coldstone, sweet cream with coconut, graham cracker, and chocolate shavings), saw two really excellent episodes of Leverage (oh, Eliot, I love you), and figured out how I'm going to finish the Leverage fanfic I've been poking at for the last week or so. 
 
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Christine O'Donnell: Unfit for Office
mst3k - deep hurting
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Fred Clark, better known as Slacktivist, has an excellent post today about Christine O'Donnell.  He draws a clear distinction between extreme and unelectable and raises an issue that I have only seen raised tangentally in the national media: Christine O'Donnell's alleged use of campaign funds for living expenses.  This, to me, is a much larger issue than what she thinks about masturbation.

That and the fact that her website is nothing more than a fundraising page--I live and work in Delaware.  I have voted in every election I've been eligible to vote in since I came here in 2002 (I have lived in Delaware longer than Christine O'Donnell).  Why can't I find out what she stands for?  What her specific policy positions are?  I know more about the Democratic candidate for New Castle County Sheriff than I do about the Republican candidate for the United States Senate.

I know she's a perpetual candidate.  In 2008, she had someone handing out scare literature at our polling place about Joe Biden and what would happen to his Senate seat if he were to be elected Vice President.  I know that she hasn't been truthful about her performance in that election.  I know that she is socially conservative.  I know that she doesn't like taxes.  I know she is anti-woman and that she is anti-science.  And I know that she is angry.

I also know that she doesn't believe that me and mine are real Americans.  And really, maybe that's all I need to know.  

On another topic: Found in the comments of the post I link above--A Kitchen of One's Own.  I can think of a few folks in my circle who would find it relevant to their interests. 
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Oh, Delaware
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Is is a bad sign that I'm looking forward to going to my polling place on Tuesday not because I am particularly interested in voting for any of my party's candidates but because I want to see if there are going to be any Tea Party shenanigans?

If, by some chance, Christine O'Donnell beats Mike Castle for the Republican Senate nomination, she will have her ass handed to her by Chris Coons--in fact, O'Donnell getting the nomination is Coons's best chance of actually winning in November.  (I'm a registered Democrat and the only way I'd ever vote for Mike Castle is if Sherry Freebery were running against him.)

But I vote at a wannabe mega-church whose pastor is white and whose congregation is mostly not and where they do all sorts of shit on voting days that they shouldn't: making us stand in the sanctuary to get to the rooms with the voting machines (there are external access doors), putting out tables full of literature about their theology (which is mainly prosperity gospel, as far as I can tell), and running videos about how great Jesus is.  So I suspect that the chances of shenanigans are fairly high, since the church already plays things a bit close to the line--I've called and complained multiple times about the tables of literature and the videos.  And the time we were in the sanctuary at the same time a service was going on--at 7:00 in the morning.

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LiveJournal and Privacy
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I am extraordinarily unhappy with the recent snafus over at LiveJournal around Twitter, Facebook, and pingbacks (a reasonable summary--with links--can be read here).

I have removed all my filters over there--what this means is that pretty much every entry on my LJ prior to June 2, 2010 is now viewable only to myself.  Many of my entries here are only visible until the beginning of 2008, IIRC--if Dreamwidth ever gets a batch privacy editing tool, I'll be rectifying that, but until I get really bored and decide I have nothing better to do other than edit privacy settings on a whole bunch of entries, well. It's not like there's anything earth shattering in my journal anyhow.

I will still be reading and commenting on LJ.

I've also done my dead-level best to lock down my Facebook account as much as humanly possible, considering that their privacy setting seem to change hourly.  If FB weren't the only way for me to contact some of my family members, I'd delete the account.  I haven't really been using Twitter--it gets to be a bit of information overload for me after a while.  I do like playing Echo Bazaar a few times a week with it, though.

If anyone needs or wants a Dreamwidth invite code, I have 19.



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RT: Article on Heroes & Heroines with Disabilities
amelie - bookish
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Just got my September issue of RT Book Reviews and wanted to mention that there's an article about heroes and heroines with disabilities--it's a decent article, but there are moments of fail (Mary Balogh admits to not doing any research with her characters with disabilities to which I say, "Buh?").  Most of the fail is around the kinds of words used to describe the disability, but there are some moments where the disability is clearly being used as a plot device as well--which I put on the authors of the books, not on the author of the article.  In addition to the article, there's also a reading list.

I don't think the article will be available online, but the magazine should be hitting bookstores relatively soon. This entry was originally posted at http://apis-mellifera.dreamwidth.org/614933.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Book and Nook Review
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I read a Harlequin Presents book.

And then I wrote a review.  Review is full of spoilers, also the book is full of rape (or, at the very least dubious consent).

The reason I read this book is because I bought a Nook this weekend and I wanted to see how PDFs worked on it and Harlequin had a bunch of free books at their 60th anniversary website, so I figured I may as well read the Presents book with the ridiculous title.

I hope that this sort of this is not representative of the Presents line (I know it's not representative of their Luna line, but that's the only one I'm really familiar with) because if it is, ew.  The deal with the Presents line is that they're in glamorous settings with bajillionaire heroes--so there's always a power differential between the hero and heroine, but I don't recall them being quite so rape-y back when I read them regularly.  Of course, that was 15 to 20 years ago, when I was still living at home and my dad had a subscription because he wanted the Normal Rockwell glasses that were a gift with subscription. 

The frustrating thing about this is that I am really pro-romance novel, so it's disappointing to see that the biggest publisher of romance novels published one that's full of rape as recently as 2007.  If this were an older book, I'd be less frustrated and upset.  I do note that the review of the book in RT is only 3 stars--which for most of their reviewers is equal to my 1 or 2 (if I were reviewing this for RT, it would be a 1).

Anyhoodle, the Nook.  I really like it.  I can sideload my own files onto it in addition to buying from Barnes & Noble--I've done both epub and pdf.  It can't handle Word or text files, but I can use Calibre (which is free) to convert those into epub--the formatting sometimes gets a little mangled, but it's still readable.  The e-ink screen is really readable and while the unit is a bit heavier than a mass market paperback, it is still manageable.  The LCD navigation takes a little bit of getting used to, but I found it to be fairly intuitive.  Battery life seems to be reasonable--probably on par with my iPod, which requires charging about once a week versus my phone which requires charging nightly.

And I was able to buy the Nook because I got a small bonus from work for my help on a data collection project.  Whee!
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Urban Fantasy
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This post about the timeline of the urban fantasy trend inspired me to go looking for an email I sent to editorial at RT at the beginning of 2007--shortly after they decided to make urban fantasy a sub-section of paranormal, instead of being scattered across paranormal and science fiction/fantasy; urban fantasy is now it's own section in the magazine (and, I suspect, is the section most prone to arguments over who gets to review what).  And here it is!

Read more...Collapse )

Funny thing is that I still pretty much agree with everything I wrote there, even three years later.
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This show is old enough to vote!
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I forgot just how awesome Homicide: Life on the Street was. On a whim, I moved seasons 1 & 2 to the top of my Netflix queue and the first disks arrived today. I had remembered how awesome Pembleton and Munch were, but I'd forgotten about the awesomeness of the rest of the cast (especially Melissa Leo as Kay Howard). And the camera work! And the on-location shooting! I know the show doesn't stay as good through its run since NBC screwed around with the show because of its less than stellar ratings, but man, the first three episodes are just brilliant.

And after I watch the first two seasons of Homicide, I think I'll get The Wire (on Netflix, that is).

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RaceFail 09: My thoughts, let me show you them.
barbed wire
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So.  RaceFail 09.

I've been reading, reading, and reading some more for nearly the entire duration (rydra_wong's collection of links is an amazing resource for folks wondering what I'm talking about) but I haven't said much of anything online about it because it seemed to me that I needed to listen and educate myself--I also have a pretty strong preference to not engage in internet arguments.  

I am a white woman and I live in a society that privileges whiteness.  I know that I have said and done racist things in my life and that is a shameful thing.  I am trying to do better.  It is a hard thing to admit, but it is the only thing to do.  It should go without saying, but I'm going to say it anyhow: I do not deserve praise for admitting this.  It is my hope that people will call me on any stupid shit that comes out of my mouth in the future and that I am in a place where I can accept the criticism with grace and without becoming defensive (like us white people are so good at doing).

In terms of the current debate, I am in a weird position.  As the senior SF/F reviewer for Romantic Times, I feel as if I am caught in a nebulous area between fan and pro.  Most of the people who write for RT are, like myself, fans who really love the genre(s) we review, but at the same time, we are part of the publicity machine.  I have to make a lot of judgement calls around what to include in the section--I don't have a whole lot of space.  At most, I can pick about 15 books per month to include. 

Generally, my criteria are a combination of, "Does this look interesting?" and "Is this by someone we have covered in the past?".  I think I've been leaning a bit too hard on the "Is this by someone we have covered in the past?" and not enough on "Does this look interesting?".  I am going to try to shft that paradigm and see if I can include more new or lesser-known writers, as well as be more proactive in searching out interesting titles from small presses (which I kinda sorta suck at right now).

As a reviewer, I know that sometimes authors believe I'm interrogating the text from the wrong perspective.  The thing is, I'm not reviewing the book for the benefit of the author--they have betas and critique groups and editors for that; I'm doing it for the readers.  I try to be aware of where I am likely to react badly are and to account for them when reviewing.  I am not always able to set aside a book because I find one or more aspects of it problematic or offensive*, but I do my best to call out those aspects so other readers will be aware and make their reading decisions accordingly.  Generally, those warnings concern sexual violence more often than racism, but that could be my privilege showing.  In fact, it probably is.  So: something else of which to be mindful.

Separately but related:

I categorically reject the idea that people operating under pseudonyms are not real people or should have their online identities linked to their offline identities.  I operate under quasi-pseudonymity on LJ--it is a trivial task to link my legal name to this LJ should anyone desire to do so.  I use a pseudonym not because I am ashamed of my online activities but because I do not want potential employers to find this LJ--unlike most of the people talking about how real names trump pseudonyms (at least in what I've read), I have actually been harassed out of a job because of my online life.  And when I complained about the harassment to the executive director of the agency for which I worked, I was told that it was my fault for having a website and that if I didn't want my co-worker to harass me (and spread rumors around the office and encourage others to harass me as well), I should take the site down.  I bear some culpability for my former co-worker being able to find me online--at that point, I did have my full name on my site--but she was the one who made the decision to search for and then to use that information in the workplace**.

I've been working on this post for several days now.  I don't know what else there is to say that hasn't been said a million times better by other people.  I don't want my public silence to be interpreted as agreement.  Because it isn't. 

---
*I have, however, refused to review one book on the grounds that I found it to be profoundly racist: Peter David's Tigerheart.  He has a Native American character named "Dog Licking Self" and refers to the Native American characters as "redskins" throughout.  Yes, the book is based on a text that itself uses that term (Barrie's Peter Pan), but that's quite honestly no excuse especially since they're not really Native Americans to begin with--I think it was wyvernfree who suggested at the time that "barbarians" would be a better term since that's essentially what they are.  

**The information she found? I'm queer and I'm non-monogamous and I'd made an off-hand comment about how I wasn't sure about something she'd asked me to do (I didn't specify what or who, just that it seemed weird) and that I was going to talk to our mutual supervisor about it when her got back in the office.  Yes, she was mentally unstable.  She was also in a position that was much more difficult to fill than mine so when push came to shove, out I went.

Ain't no drama like fiber drama
dalek - caffeinate
apis_mellifera
Drama Llama!
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