Our camp's Pennsic prep is a little unusual:
Me: dials phone
Her: Castle Towing1
Me: Hi. I'm going to need some towing at Cooper's Lake this weekend. Can I book that in advance?
Her: Oh you don't need to. We offer 24x7 road service; you can just call.
Me: It's a 20' trailer. Probably 3-ton, but we don't really know.
Her: ... oh. Uh, I don't know if we can do that.
Me: For what it's worth, you did it two years ago. That's why I specifically called you. But I understand things can change.
Her: I need to check with a driver. I'll call you back.
Her: He remembers you. When did you say you need him?
With luck, this will be the last year we have to do our own towing for the house. The Coopers declared it too heavy for them to tow a couple years ago. A lot of what makes it too heavy is the kitchen structure and furniture we store in it. We are well under way with building a new kitchen trailer, which will replace most of that and store the rest between Pennsics. And that will make the house light enough that the Coopers should be willing to tow it to and from our campsite like they had done for years before the new rules. And hey, kitchen trailer instead of having to build and take down our current structure every year.
1 Yes, that really is their name, and yes they're familiar with the Pennsic site.
Remember that mishna I summarized last week, the first one of this tractate? The g'mara is still discussing it (not surprising, given its length). On today's daf the discussion turns to intercalating of years, the decision by a beit din to add a leap-month to the current year. The g'mara tells a story about a case of this and from it we learn lessons of humility:
The year can be intercalated only by a beit din appointed for that purpose. It once happened that Rabban Gamaliel had called for a court of seven to assemble early in the morning, but when he arrived he found eight people there. He asked the group: who has come without permission? Let him leave. Shmuel the Little said: I'm the extra; I didn't come to sit on the court but to learn the process. But Shmuel the Little wasn't the extra person; he spoke up to save the intruder from humiliation.
The g'mara tells another story of this kind of face-saving, this time about R. Meir. A woman came to his study hall and said: rabbi, one of you here has taken me to wife by cohabitation. R' Meir immediately arose and wrote her a get (a bill of divorce), after which every one of his disciples did likewise. And the g'mara says that he learned this from Shmuel the Little. (11a)
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I pretty quickly came to the conclusion that Richard was much like any other royal thug in an unstable kingdom. But the idea that Richard was the victim of a disinformation campaign -- that made sense to me.
Years later, Richard III's body was found in Leicester (people always say "buried in a car park," but the the tomb was originally inside a prominent church. Guess what! Richard did have a bad case of scoliosis, namely a twisted spine. Experts who examined the skeleton had to wonder, whether the one good thing even his enemies were willing to grant him, courage and skill at arms, could possibly be true. A very interesting research project located a living Briton with a very similar case of scoliosis. This man, hight Dominic Smee, was put through his paces. He learned to ride a warhorse, wear armor, fight on foot and on horseback, and was tested for general fitness. Guess what! .Mr.Smee did very well. He did have some restrictions on his breathing due to his asymmetrical rib cage, but he was quite capable otherwise.Guess what Mr. Smee did for fun, before he became the dead king's body double?He was a reenactor at the Battle of Bosworth historic site.There is a very interesting documentary on the subject here.>Image: Larry Olivier as the evil king.
I have a list of blog prompts that people have suggested, and though I always mean to address them first in/first out, usually some other intersection causes one to pop up to the top. In this case, when I mentioned dictating stories during my commute, Sara Uckelman asked: When you dictate, do you write like you talk? Do you edit a lot when transcribing or is it faithful? How much is it "these are the ideas I want to convey" and how much "these are the words I want to convey the ideas with?"
I love this question, because in fact I had to train myself laboriously how to dictate fiction. I tried it a few times when I was writing the first draft of Daughter of Mystery--especially after I’d found out how well MacSpeech works to convert speech to text. But faced with a live microphone, my brain utterly emptied itself of story. Nothing would come out.
In part, I think it was because my story composition process was so thoroughly tied up with text and the physical act of writing. At that point, I was still doing all my initial drafts longhand and then transcribing to the computer. Trying to create story by speaking was like the difference between being able to write a foreign language and being able to talk in it.
Another part of my block was what I tend to think of as a “buffering problem”. One of the reasons writing longhand worked better for me than typing was because it more closely matched the speed at which I could actually compose in my head. So if I wrote longhand, I’d always have the next sentence buffered in my brain and ready to come out, whereas if I typed, my typing might outpace my composition. And dictation would seriously outpace my composition.
But I clearly remember the first time that dictation did work for me, though I don’t recall exactly which scene it was. I think it must have been during my last push to finish the first draft of Daughter of Mystery, because it was Christmas time and I was at my brother’s house in Maine and I was simultaneously focused entirely on getting the story down and too fidgety to just sit and write. So I got out the cross-country skis and skied over to the nearby college campus that had a big network of cross-country trails, and I’d ski and think up the next sentence, then pull out my iPhone and dictate it, then ski and think up the next sentence, then pull out my iPhone and dictate it, and so on until the scene was done.
And that’s not a bad outline of how it still works for me. The pause button is my friend. I still can’t manage to just turn the recorder on and spin a tale, but I can jerk through it sentence by sentence. (I’ll digress a moment and note that I had much better luck dictating ideas for blog posts, because I can blather on about process and structure and ideas at great length without pausing for breath.) And I still can't use MacSpeech for transcribing, because I do my dictation on a little tiny handheld recorder and the file format isn't compatible. (I can't dictate on my iPhone while driving, not only because there are laws against interacting with a phone while driving, but because I need tactile controls for the pause/continue function.)
Getting back to some of the specific questions: When you dictate, do you write like you talk?
I try. Because one of the things I worry about most is that specific wordings and turns of phrase will come to me only once and they fly away forever. So when I dictate I try very hard to capture those exact expressions as they come to me, whether or not I keep them. But it doesn’t resemble ordinary talking. And the clearest way I know that is because in the middle of dictating story, I may drop in a note about needing to explain something earlier, or changing my mind about something in light of the bit I’m dictating, or simply a footnote about needing to come up with some name or backstory or other detail. I drop into my ordinary voice for those things and when I’m transcribing, they’re instantly recognizable even if I’m not paying attention to the words.
Do you edit a lot when transcribing or is it faithful?
I definitely edit as I transcribe. For one thing, once I see it on the page, I’ll realize that I was repetitive, or used the same word or phrase twice in close proximity, or I’ll know that I shifting things later in the dictation session, and will go ahead and modify them as I type.
How much is it "these are the ideas I want to convey" and how much "these are the words I want to convey the ideas with?"
I’d say about 30:70. Sometimes I’ll shift into summary mode, especially if I know I have detailed thoughts for the next scene. But mostly I’m trying to get down the specific words I want to use. If I dictate summary, then it’s going to get transcribed as summary and I’ll have to expand it later. I don’t want too much of that to deal with on the first serious editing pass.
One of the reasons I decided to pull this topic up to blog about, is that I had an interesting dictation experience this week. I mentioned above that I worry a lot about catching the perfect words and then losing them if I don’t get them down. Well, maybe that doesn’t need to be as much of a worry as I think it does.
Back in March, I had an inspiration for a Beauty and the Beast reworking. It came to me in a bit of a wholistic flash, and I laid out a basic outline with various plot and character notes in a Scrivener file. And then I set it aside to ripen while I worked on Floodtide. Now, having finished that ugly first draft of Floodtide and having decided to let it sit until I get back from Worldcon (and adjacent travels), I found myself casting about for a writing project to spend my commute-dictation time on. And I dictated the opening scene of “The Language of Roses”.
When I opened up the Scrivener file to transcribe it, I discovered that I’d already drafted up the same exact scene and forgotten I’d done so. Four months between the two compositions, and here is how they compare. (Please excuse the occasional *placeholder*. That’s just part of my process.) There are things that are entirely different, but it's striking how many of the details (and even exact phrases) were "sticky".
Draft 1 (March 2017)
She wore white—the white of the snow that lay thick at the sides of the castle steps as she picked her way slowly down into the garden. The white of the ice that hung from the eaves of the copper roofs and overflowed the tiers of the fountain at the center of the paths. It was not the white silks and laces of a bride, but the white of frozen winter that covered all the castle and the land around in a blanket of silence and waiting.
She pulled the hood of her cloak over her head so that the pale fox fur framed her even paler face. Her white-booted feet crunched on the path that wound past the sleeping outlines of the formal beds, past the dormant fruit trees, and toward a small iron gate set into the stone wall. A gate to the outside. There: just to the right of the path, a mere handspan from the latched gate that would have meant freedom, a briar grew, trembling under the weight of the ice that rimed every leaf.
One thorny limb stretched out toward the scrolling ironwork, pointing the way. Straining for release. The only message came in the form of a frost-touched bud, new-sprung since the day before. Since the last time the White Lady had come to visit.
“What is it, Rose?” she asked. She stretched a hand clad in white kidskin out to cup the bud gently and leaned closely and breathed on the tightly folded petals to coax them into revealing their message. Her breath, too, was cold. Cold enough that no vapor hung in the air, but warm enough to stir the bud to life. It shifted within her fingers and unfurled halfway, releasing just the faintest trace of perfume.
“*Color*,” the White Lady breathed. “A visitor, then. We haven’t had one of those in years.”
There was nothing of hope or anticipation in her voice. She released the *color* bloom that was already wilting and curling around the edges. But as she did, she saw a second bud, larger and swollen with blushed meaning. This time the White Lady’s hand trembled as she lifted it to her lips and breathed out. It opened eagerly: the deepest crimson, almost black. The color of heart’s blood. No frost rimmed the edges of those petals. The scent they offered up was deep and intoxicating. The Lady brushed her lips against the velvet softness of the petals. The rose was warm. A single crystal tear crossed her cheek and she whispered, “And I.”
Draft 2 (July 2017)
Grace picked her way along the graveled path that led toward the small wrought-iron gate at the back of the garden. With an effort that she felt, but no longer considered, the invisible ones trailed behind her, sweeping the path free of leaves in her wake. Erasing the traces of her visit. She felt the effort like an ache in her bones—an ache like the weight of the curse that hung over the manor.
Dawn was the best time to walk in the garden, when her limbs felt less heavy, less stiff. When there was no chance that he would be watching. Even so, caution led her along a roundabout path, past the low hedges of the maze and the beds where the kitchen garden had once been, the silent fountains. She could have asked the invisible ones to tend the gardens, but what was the use? He provided food for the table with an effortless gesture. Why should she spend her hoarded strength just to have some small bit of sustenance that didn’t rely on his pleasure?
She came to the briar that grew beside the gate as if by chance. Caution was a long habit. The rose twisted up from its roots, stretching thorny branches in two directions: one toward the gaps between the iron bars, seeking escape, one reaching toward the manor house, pleading for release. Here and there on the brambles, leaves trembled in the breeze. But only one unexpected bud swelled at the tip of a stem.
Grace reached out to cup stiff fingers around the bud and breathed a kiss of warm air across it. “Hello Rose,” she said. She looked anxiously over her shoulder at the upper windows of the house. They still showed shuttered against the light. He didn’t care for light in the morning. She returned to the rose. She had no skill to work with matter. That was his domain: the transformations, forcing one thing into another. She had only the invisible ones.
“What is it, Rose?” she asked softly. “What message wakes you?”
The bud swelled between her hands, cracking the sepals apart. The petals unfurled: half-blown, then just enough more to show the colors within. *Description of colors*
A tremor fluttered through her heart. Not hope, not precisely. She didn’t dare to hope.
“It has been long and long since you showed that message,” Grace said.
She hadn’t counted the years. And the last time—that had not gone well. But any change brought…curiosity. That was the safe thing to call it.
“Thank you,” she whispered and brushed her lips gently across the petals. In response, a crimson blush suffused the bloom before it faded back to *original colors*. “And I, too,” she said.
"We already get a subscription to Cricket."
"So? N doesn't."
"N practically lives here. She doesn't need her own subscription."
"Don't you want her to read more!?"
(Okay, she didn't say that last line, but she thought it VERY LOUDLY.)
I hope they had fun! The boat is really the most affordable date in town, and certainly fun if you don't take it every day.
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What rights does the author of journal article have in their article once published in a journal? I appreciate this might vary by specific journal (or organization that owns or edits the journal), but are there general trends? Do journals typically require submitting authors forfeit the right to publish the work for free on the internet? Forever? What if an author wants to contribute the paper as a chapter in an anthology (book)? Or write their own book in which the paper is one chapter?
I-376, like many other highways, has those overhead digital signs that somebody updates with topical messages like "accident, right lane closed 1 mi" or "stadium parking exit 72A" or, when they've got nothing better to say, "buckle up -- it's the law". There are two of these signs on my commute that, in their default states, say "distance to downtown: N mi, M min". Which, while usually not especially helpful to me (I live five miles from downtown), is still more useful to me than seatbelt nags. (I always use seatbelts.)
This morning, while stopped in traffic near Oakland, I saw one of those signs update from "4 mi, 5 min" to "4 mi, 6 min". That was less inaccurate, but far from accurate -- I reached downtown about 25 minutes later. (This is all very unusual; two of three lanes were closed due to a bad accident. My commute is sometimes slow, but I don't remember the last time I was in stopped morning traffic.)
It got me wondering -- do the indicators on those signs update automatically based on sensor data or are they human-controlled? The fact that an update happened but didn't jump to a more-appropriate number makes me think that we're dealing with an automated system that only bumps one unit at a time. (I would hope that a human would have updated it to warn about the accident.)
Why would it be designed to only increment in single units? Or is it a bug? What are the inputs to these signs, anyway?
Despite being on the edge of Generation X, Turner has the “Ain’t nobody got time for that” political attitude of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the inherent badassery of ’70s Pam Grier and the inside knowledge of Olivia Pope without all the drama.
After years of making Republicans tuck in their chains, and snatching wigs from Democrats who want black votes but not black power, Turner has been placed in the most interesting of positions: head of Our Revolution, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to continuing the Bernie Sanders revolution of 2016. The Root spoke with Turner about what it’s like to become one of the most powerful women in American politics, and whether or not Bernie bros can ever get over their race problem.
The Root: Sen. Turner, congratulations! You’re now head of Our Revolution, replacing former Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver. What are you going to do to keep that revolution going or, hopefully, add to it?
Nina Turner: Stoke that flame to empower the grass roots. Too many people think the power resides in elected officials. No! They serve us. The power resides in the grass roots. Medicare for all, criminal-justice reform; these are the issues that matter to the people, all people of all colors.
TR: So how exactly does Our Revolution work? Do you just give money? Do you make phone calls? What’s the process?
NT: Well, we have 49 affiliates (out of hundreds) across the United States, including D.C. and Puerto Rico, and basically candidates have to seek Our Revolution out. The candidates actually have to interface with the local affiliate and the voters. Imagine that?! It’s not just filling out a questionnaire; we’re looking for progressive candidates.
Then the local affiliate reports to the national office about which local candidates they might want to support. Then we ask them, “What do you want to do? Are you willing to knock on doors? Are you willing to make phone calls?” I know it’s a process, but we want to make sure the local office is committed to the candidate in some real grassroots ways before committing more money and resources.
The story of Our Revolution’s resources is interesting. They have exclusive access to a donor list of 2.8 million people who gave over $218 million to Bernie Sanders in the 2016 cycle alone. Now, the only way for the Democratic Party or any candidate to get to that list is through Nina Turner, making her one of the most powerful people—black, white, Latino, Asian, male or female—in American politics.
With Donald Trump in office, progressives are engaged and enraged. So the list is like art in Turner’s possession, and it becomes more valuable every year. That list could be 4 million by the 2018 midterm elections. That list could be 8 million by the 2020 presidential election. But Our Revolution ain’t trying to give that list to their children, let alone share it with the Democratic National Convention.
NT: We definitely recognize how important that [donor] list is, but it’s not something we think about every day. We know our list is important and our donors are important, but that’s not something we take lightly, and not something we’re just gonna give away.
TR: A lot of black folks have criticized the Sanders campaign and, by extension, Our Revolution for the lack of engagement with black folks. Bernie did terrible with African-American voters in the South, and his economic message, to many people, lacked an important racial component. How do you plan to address that now that you’re head of the movement?
NT: I’m glad you asked that; really I am. When I talk about working families, I’m talking about black people; when I’m talking about health care and a living wage, I’m talking about black families. For me, we still have a lot of work to do, but we are the base of the Democratic Party, so there is no integration of black people; we are a part of this. That’s part of why I’m here.
But also, we have to demand more from our leaders, and we have to talk about system. The system of racial oppression in this country. The systems of abuse in government. That’s what I think the senator didn’t get enough credit for. He talked about systemwide problems, and that’s where black people suffer the most. Black folks catch more hell than anybody in this country except for our Native American brothers and sisters.
TR: What about hiring, though? Last fall, half the staff of Our Revolution quit over the organization’s initial leadership and lack of diversity. How do you plan to change that? Are you hiring more African-American staff? Hiring more African-American outreach and consultants?
NT: Yes, sir. We have a small staff but a very diverse board. The staff is mostly women of color. Mostly black and Hispanic women. I don’t rubber-stamp anything, though. It’s a process, and I’m there making sure every step of the way we’re including the base. This is personal for me as well.
We are unapologetic about our support of progressive candidates across the board, and many of them are African American. Look, it matters to us, black people. We can be socially conservative, but we are forward-thinking, forward-moving on issues that face this country. We all want a better quality of life. We supported [Chokwe] Lumumba running for mayor in Jackson, Miss. We endorsed him. We’re working with the mayoral candidate Randall Woodfin for Birmingham, Ala. We have an unapologetic progressive agenda.
TR: Some Sanders supporters are still mad, claiming that the entire 2016 election was a farce, and that the Democratic Party is essentially the enemy. Do you have a position on the DNC fraud lawsuit in Florida right now, where supposed Sanders supporters are suing the party to get back their donations (not to mention other, more outlandish claims)?
NT: I believe you should do everything to win, but not anything to win, you know? That’s what we want to do as well. We’re going to go, we’re going to work, but some of the things that happened [in the 2016 primary] just aren’t the way we should be doing things. Our Revolution has no formal position on the DNC fraud lawsuit. That doesn’t mean that some of their complaints don’t have merit, but we don’t have a formal position.
TR: Any last words to make sure the audience knows about your new leadership style that they don’t already know?
NT: I want people to say: “That’s a bold sista out there. She’s authentic. She is who she is and she speaks the truth.” Our Revolution is committed to transforming this country at the grassroots for all ethnicities.
by Jason Johnson
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