Context is the slings and arrows of working in the food service industry.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My stepfather’s grandson’s wedding is black-tie optional, and my stepfather’s children are renting him a tux. My mom, who is 90, thought she would wear a nice pants outfit with a dressy jacket, and is resistant to buying something new. She has been through a lot this year (treatment for lymphoma, cancer surgery, and she recently fell and broke her pelvis, so she is in a lot of pain).
I and my three sisters (my mom’s only children) live on the opposite coast, but we are now being pressured by the mother of the groom (my stepfather’s daughter) and my stepfather to see that she is outfitted appropriately -- not just for the wedding, but also for the rehearsal dinner (cocktail attire) and the wedding breakfast to be held the day after the wedding.
They have also expressed concerns about the shoes my mother prefers (very safe, comfortable, but not at all dressy). My sister even heard my stepfather tell her that if she doesn’t get something new to wear, she can stay home and not attend the wedding or other events.
My mother doesn’t stand up for herself, unfortunately. Two of us will be traveling to see her soon, and plan to take her shopping. My sister is even purchasing a few things for my mom that she will bring with her, in the hopes that maybe something will fit and work for this event.
Personally, I think it is extremely superficial of them to dictate what she wears (especially since the wedding is six months from now!). If it were me, I would just be thrilled they are both well enough to attend, regardless of how they are dressed.
Is my mother wrong to resist the request to buy something more formal? Or should the step-family back off?
GENTLE READER: What happened to the “optional” part?
While Miss Manners always advocates dressing properly for the occasion -- and generally abhors “optional,” as it just invites chaos -- the particulars of your mother’s dress seem to be unduly fixated upon here. There is certainly a lot of undue angst being put into this poor woman’s wardrobe that seemingly requires three separate outfits and uncomfortable, possibly dangerous, shoes.
If your mother can reasonably be jollied into the shopping expedition or accepts one of your sister’s choices for one new outfit, fine. But if not, please talk to your stepfather about “backing off.” Surely this cannot really be worth all of this fuss.
I want to write him a summary of the Soviet Army officer's career path, what service branches are available, etc., but nothing I can find tells me the basic stuff. It's all focused on generals and stuff. (Looked on Wiki, looked on Google, neither helped. I found a monograph on dtic.mil that was from 1975 and provided *some* detail, but expected me the reader to know more than I do to make sense of stuff.)
To quote his draft summary: "(1) Early life. Born in 1959, he follows a similar course to Putin (joining the military instead, but attached as an "adviser" to one of the Soviet Bloc countries after a tour in Afghanistan which gave him a scar on his upper right arm from a Taliban attack). He resigned with a TBD officer's rank in the middle of the 1991 coup attempt (a la Putin; he's simply younger) rather than join in the attempt (which he percieved as doomed)."
He's trying to figure it out in more detail than that, but the problem is that he (the player) and I (the GM, one of two, responsible for helping him draw up his character - he does the important work of figuring out policies and stuff, the meat of gameplay, himself) can't find anything much about anything re the company-grade and field-grade officers of the Soviet Army and how they were trained, or how their careers progressed, or anything.
1. As the character was born in 1959, presume he enters officer training from civilian life sometime around 1977. How long is his officer training, and how is it decided whether he goes, say, infantry or airborne troops?
2. What's the career path like from initial officer training (including "what rank does he enter service at?" - the materials I can find state "Lieutenant", but the Soviet Army has 3 Lieutenant ranks!) to, say, battalion command?
3. What additional school-type training would he undergo during that career path, and at what times during his career? (I can help the player figure out good tour-of-duty mixes once I have that information.)
4. What service arms existed in the Soviet Army? I often hear of officers referred to as a "Colonel of Infantry", "Colonel of Air Defense", "Colonel of Strategic Rocket Forces" - but what are the possible options for the "of x" formula?
5. Were ordinary officers even assigned as "advisors" to Warsaw Pact forces, or only Political Officers?
I know these are really detailed questions in some regard. I'm trying to keep them general, but even the general stuff is hard to figure out. My objectives for this are:
B. Figure out what his career would have looked like - where would he have served, at what levels, doing what? (Especially key to figure out when he would have served in Afghanistan.)
C. Figure out if the early life posited is *plausible*.
I thus don't need to know deep details (at least not until a player requests a detailed bio of their Russian adversary from their intel people, at which point I may be back...), but only be able to work out a summary. I can do the hard part of the work myself and with the player, but I need help figuring out the foundational stuff before I begin that.
(Edited to add: Link to something Google *did* dredge up for me, and my note that what I was sent was a draft summary of the character, not a full bio. We'll be working on the full bio once we have the summary agreed to.)
I've decided to rip out some
As a household with three kids, one of whom is through high school, and the other two still in high school, we've generated a lot of 'unused' paper through the last decade -- mostly half used scrapbooks and note books. We have a shelf that this gets put on, and then any time anyone needs to make notes or doodles, they grab paper out of there. However, there are different 'grades' of such paper, depending on how easy it is to get more/the proportion of it in the stack. And every time I see one of the kids grab some of the coloured construction paper (which means I usually can't read the notes), the heavier card stock, the graph/manuscript/dotted thirds lines paper, I take a moment to go 'don't use that, use the real scrap paper'. And mostly they do, but sometimes they just grab what is on top. And when what is on top is what has just come out of someone's desk drawer, it could be anything.
The sorting was pretty simple. I took the top 15-20cm off the pile (of ~30cm), and then anything I didn't care about that was roughly A4 sized went straight back on. Coloured paper and construction card were put in one pile; all the other 'precious' paper types in another, and scrap that was smaller than A4 was either sorted into a notepad pile or binned. The 'precious' papers have been put at the other end of the shelf (vertically, between existing dividers), and the small note pads have been put on top, so that they can be used first. Random bits of card, covers off scrapbooks, pieces too small, all in the bin.
And now I have a neat and tidy shelf, and I know that if I grab the top piece of paper off the active pile, it will be something I can throw out after I've used it, because it really is scrap.
Earlier this week, I finished Alaya Dawn Johnson's The Summer Prince. I have had this book by my bed for months and months and months. I would pick it up, read some, like it, and then get distracted. Finally, I decided it was too good for that kind of treatment and got serious about moving through it.
It is an excellent and fascinating book, even though it never really grabbed me. The worldbuilding is awesome and the depiction of the inner lives of teenagers, affected by the different world they live in and nonetheless completely recognizable as the teenagers of our times, is especially well done. The The prose is beautiful and the evocation of the city is outstanding. The setting is a post-apocalyptic Brazil and effectively everyone is (from our perspective) PoC; Johnson explores class divisions and to some extent national divisions, but the key cultural rift she explores is age.
I can't quite figure out why it didn't have momentum for me, and I expect that will be different for other people. I found it well worth the comparatively slow going, and will probably re-read it at some point.
I know I sorted something out yesterday, but I've already managed to forget it (apart from making sure the open pack of biscuits was finished, as per yukonsally's suggestion yesterday). Friday, I took a randomish swatch of knitted yarn that I think might have been the start of a scarf (it was in a bag donated to me; the yarn was one of those matting ones, so frogging it wasn't an option) plus three scarves that had turned up from various places and gave them to a school teacher friend who is going to put them in some collection in their classroom (she was asking for blue things for a water cycle, and two were blue).
Today, I sat at the desk, and tidied a corner. Someone had pulled partner's collection of playing cards out and kind of distributed them across the space, so I sorted through and put them back in their pigeon hole. A couple of cards that didn't match any of the sets were binned (they were the wrong size for contributing to a cheat deck), and a set of Donkey cards that were too dilapidated for small hands also went in the bin. Plus some other bits of paper.
An Open Letter to All Writing Programmes, Workshops, and Retreats (July 27, 2017)
So here’s a public promise: after I have fulfilled my immediate contractual obligations, I will no longer support in any way any writing-related programme or organisation that does not have a public commitment to and specific timetable for becoming accessible. I will call on other writers to do the same.
All this to say that The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is yet another delightful take on Journey to the West, this time set in the hyper-competitive high schools of the Bay Area. Monkey is now Quentin, a handsome, short, brilliant and very annoying teenager who kept reminding me of Miles Vorkosigan, in a good way. Genie herself has a surprising connection with him, but is a three-dimensional character in her own right, with a sense of honor and complicated relationships with her parents and friends. Her efforts to balance college applications with supernatural obligations had a Buffy-ish resonance, and the various Gods and demons showing up in modern America will please Neil Gaiman fans. I found this a quick and enjoyable read.
Like Bad Indians, this is an intricate quilt of a book, part memoir, part poem, part dream. It's hard to imagine how it could be otherwise. The loss of a parent is a loss of meaning. For indigenous people, this is doubly true. Lillian Alexie was one of the last fluent speakers of Salish. Her death robs her son, and the world, of an entire universe.
This book, like Hawking radiation, is an almost-undetectable glow of meaning escaping from a black hole. If you haven't lost a parent yet it might be too much to bear, but if you have, it might feel like joining a group of survivors around a campfire after a catastrophe.
IN AUGUST 2015, as a huge forest fire burned on my reservation, as it burned within feet of the abandoned uranium mine, the United States government sent a representative to conduct a town hall to address the growing concerns and fears. My sister texted me the play-by-play of the meeting. “OMG!” she texted. “The government guy just said the USA doesn’t believe the forest fire presents a serious danger to the Spokane Indian community, even if the fire burns right through the uranium mine.”
...“Is the air okay?” I texted. “It hurts a little to breathe,” my sister texted back. “But we’re okay.” Jesus, I thought, is there a better and more succinct definition of grief than It hurts a little to breathe, but we’re okay?
"Netflix's "Atypical" Was a Major Disappointment for Autism Representation"
In watching the show, I noticed that it seems to play into stereotypes that I’ve experienced firsthand that could have easily been avoided and that may present damaging information about autistic people. There is so much misinformation about autism in part because we nearly always learn about autism from non-autistic people, instead of learning about autism from autistic adults.
( click for squee )
Lynne Thomas of Uncanny Magazine writes about her daughter Caitlin, who doesn't speak and communicates a lot. Lynne reviews the overwhelming privilege of the spoken word in SF:
One of the commenters points out that Marvel has a new, nonverbal, hero coming: