making prosthetic eyes

Mar. 23rd, 2017 06:05 pm
jesse_the_k: Photo of baby wearing huge black glasses  (eyeglasses baby)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
I had the good fortune to meet [personal profile] kestrell at Wiscon, and she introduced me to the old-world artistry of ocular prosthetics.

It turns out one of the three ocular prosthetic makers in Wisconsin is a local hero. The process is fascinating:

Q&A: Dori Hosek found an 'amazing fit' making artificial eyes

I can speak directly to the exquisite details: Kes gave me one of her out-of-date ones and I wear it as a pendant (but only in geeky environs).

Done last week (20170312Su - 18Sa)

Mar. 19th, 2017 09:00 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

As things become increasingly sureal for me, it's appropriate that the week opened with Salvador Dalí's Long Lost Collaboration With Walt Disney.

It has not been a good week. Naomi found a nice apartment for Colleen and me, in the U District. We will move in next weekend. The prospect of splitting the household, even temporarily, is tearing me apart, especially since we don't know where we're going to end up, or when.

We've continued to look for a new home. The Maple Valley place was magical and lovely, but between wetlands, well, and septic system it's almost impossible -- perhaps completely impossible -- to build anything new on it to replace the mobile home that's too old to be financed. When we eventually move, it would be just as hard to sell as the the present owner is finding it, so we'd be trying to buy a new place with over $250K tied up in the old one. Not good. But it was the only place we've seen that looks as if we could simply move in with only minimal work -- and we'll need to move soon.

The combination of grief, depression, anxiety, burnout, hopelessness, and guilt -- the latter over the incredible number of screw-ups over the last thirty years that got me to this place -- is getting worse and worse. I just want to crawl into a hole, and things that need doing continue to pile up.

In other news, the country I live in is rapidly becoming unrecognizable. Amazon's TV adaptation of The Man in the High Castle is horrifyingly apropos, and Trump Supporters Reaction to Amazon's Resistance Radio is both Sad and Hilarious. Have a billboard.

Notes & links, as usual )

Great Browser Extension for Readers

Mar. 17th, 2017 06:21 pm
jesse_the_k: Two bookcases stuffed full (with books on top) leaning into each other (books)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
I just started using the "Library Extension,"

http://www.libraryextension.com

I didn't have to create an account: I just picked my local library from the list. Now every time I click an Amazon link, the extension shows me whether my library holds the book. So cool.

Right now it's only available for Chrome, but they promise a Firefox extension soon.

Photobucket

Mar. 17th, 2017 02:41 pm
karzilla: a green fist above the word SMASH! (Default)
[staff profile] karzilla posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
Thanks to everyone who let us know that Photobucket images were not loading properly on some pages. The problem seemed to be mostly limited to HTTPS requests; Dreamwidth maintains a list of known high-traffic image sites that support HTTPS, so that our secure content proxy service doesn't cache them unnecessarily. Unfortunately Photobucket seems to have recently changed their site configuration such that HTTPS requests aren't being served as expected, and we've now taken it out of our list of "proxy-exempt" sites.

If you continue to have issues, make sure you're not using HTTPS Photobucket links. It's a bit counterintuitive, but if you use HTTP instead, it will be automatically transformed on our end to an HTTPS link that uses p.dreamwidth.org.

Hope that clears everything up for now! Let us know if it doesn't...
jesse_the_k: mirror reflection of 1/3 of my head, creating a central third eye, a heart shaped face, and a super-pucker mouth (JK oh really?)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k

A local culture critic faces up to the truly scary inventions of modern processed food in his series, "Yeah, I Ate That." Every Wednesday me & MyGuy alternate reading it aloud and trying not to splatter food all over ourselves. This week's edition addresses Peeps* in all their Easter finery with words )

Fiat Lux!

Mar. 13th, 2017 07:08 pm
jesse_the_k: Dreamy photo of playground roundabout in rosy foggy light (lost youth)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
It's 7:08 Central Daylight Time. The ~4inches of snow are still reflecting brightly through our windows. I have survived another winter. Hooray. What's your favorite winter memory?

Done last week (20170305Su - 0311Sa)

Mar. 12th, 2017 12:17 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

It's been a busy week here at Rainbow's End -- last weekend was g's Bat Mitzava and the associated parties; this weekend my Mom is visiting, and we had a few of the local cousins visiting yesterday. In preparation for last week's parties, we had the Great Room almost completely cleared out.

That, of course, made things interesting for this week's party, especially since many of our folding chairs are also in the pod. But between the purple sofabed, my desk chair, what was once Colleen's sewing chair, N's old recliner, and a couple of clunky metal folding chairs that had been languishing on the porch, we managed. We used three of our folding tray tables as a makeshift buffet for cheese and crackers, the blue coffee cups as wineglasses, and had a great afternoon and evening of food and conversation. Never found an opening for music, but...

We are trying, so far without success, to find an apartment for Colleen and I to move into for the next couple of months. Furnished apartments rented month-to-month are mainly for corporate clients, which can afford to pay hotel-room prices: 3-4K/month is typical. There's one place for about 1600, but the rooms are small, the "kitchen" is a tiny microwave, and they don't allow pets. We could manage unfurnished, though it would mean hauling our beds and Colleen's chair.

I was on call this week at work; I found someone to swap with for the weekend, so I'm off the hook until some weekend in May. $PROJECT officially launches (dialed up to 1%) on Monday, which is my actual birthday. So there's that.

I'm not in the best shape physically -- anything that requires me to bend over, like cleaning the floor or changing the bed, is likely to be very bad for my back. Bringing in the desk chair from the Great Room, however, is definitely helping. At least half my problems were caused by trying to use a computer from a folding chair. It also helps that the desk chair lets me use my heating pad.

I'm almost certainly not in terribly good shape emotionally (modulo alexithymia, of course). Leaving the house is hard. Well, grief counseling is one of the Middle-Sized Bear's job functions. I should probably re-read "Mark Elf" to remind myself of that.

Notes & links, as usual )

jesse_the_k: Macro photo of left eye of my mostly black border collie mutt (Default)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
Surprising – and gratifying – that the NYTimes, of all places, is publishing a high-quality essay series on disability. The writers are experts by experience, exploring the social model in public.

http://www.nytimes.com/column/disability

Rivers Solomon’s essay on diabetes is particularly insightful and beautifully written: they write what diabetes means at the intersection of black, fat, & dyke.

taste & link inside )

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/12/opinion/diabetes-diet-and-shame.html

tim: "System Status: Degraded" (degraded)
[personal profile] tim
Compiling what I wrote in an impromptu Twitter thread:

I saw a tweet that said: "English major = 'Want fries with that?' 🍟. Pick something that will give you enough money to write what you want." (In the interest of discretion, I won't say who wrote this, but you can find out if you go to the thread.)

This is bullshit. I have a computer science degree and thus all the money I want and no emotional energy left after work for writing. If I'd majored in English (like 13-year-old me wanted) I wouldn't have gone down the path of lots of money and spiritual/artistic vacuity. (Maybe more like 10-year-old me wanted; 13-year-old me wanted to be an editorial cartoonist and major in sociology or journalism in order to get there. 10-year-old me maybe had the best plan.)

I was in debt -- student, medical, or both, at various times -- from September 1997 to January 2017. Now that I'm out of it, I can choose what to do next, so the point here isn't "cry for me". It is: Please do not pretend choosing an economically useful major while telling yourself you can do your important work "in your free time" (imagine all the finger air quotes there) doesn't have a serious, permanent cost. It does.

You can never get back the time you spent doing stuff you don't care about for people who despise you. You need money to live, but time is the most precious resource you have because when you lose money, you can get it back; when you lose time, you can never get it back.

Me, I didn't even choose computer science for the money (that came later). I thought, at the time, that I'd enjoy it more than I enjoyed writing or playing music. (I didn't enjoy playing music at all at the time, because I spent most of the first 16 years of my life playing classical music not because I wanted to, but because I had a parent who was foisting "what I didn't get to do when I was younger" onto me. I did get over that, but it took me about another 20 years. That's another story.)

Anyway, once you get into industry, you realize the real day-to-day work isn't much fun, or that there are fun things about it but not the ones you anticipated, and a whole lot of soul-sucking baggage that's the price of both the fun and the money, but by then the money has you trapped.

So if somebody had said all this to me when I was 18 (which they probably did, but I also had a parent yelling at me pretty loudly to be practical so I could support her when she got old (joke's on her, she's old now and I haven't spoken to her since 2014 and never will again)), it wouldn't have mattered -- I thought I was choosing the major that was what I wanted to do most, and I was pretty solidly on the side of telling my peers to do the same, and grieving with the ones who had parents who felt their tuition money was buying them permanent control over their children's lives.

I would hate to see someone who doesn't even like computer science, though, choose it anyway because of shaming from people using the 🍟 emoji (and by the way, there is zero shame in working in food service -- someone has to cook for the people who get to spend their time writing), because of middle-class anxiety over the psychic cost of being one of the people their parents or grandparents stepped on to achieve middle-class status. It's one thing to choose it because it seems like the most fun thing at the time, another to hide your light under the barrel of "a stable job, a practical career."

So if you're reading this and you're a teenager, choosing a major, or choosing whether to go to college at all, and you want to write or make art: write. Make your art. Put your first energies into those things, build whatever scaffolding you need to in order to keep your first energies there. (And if you change your mind later, that's cool too.) If you de-center those things in your life now, it will never get any easier to center them again. Do what it takes to survive, but never pretend that what fuels your fire is secondary and "real jobs" are primary; know it's the other way around.

If you're 28 and in a "good" job and you want to write or make art but you're afraid of losing safety, know it'll never get any easier. So you might as well do it now.

If you're 38 and you want to write or make art but you have 2 kids to support, I wish you the best.

We -- as in, we adults who've had our dreams beaten out of us -- terrorize kids with a lot of fear-mongering about starving artists and starving musicians. The truth is that artists and musicians have always found ways to survive in a world hostile to art, so long as they're lucky enough to get taught that the shame of not being affluent must be avoided at all costs. (There are a few other kinds of luck that I'll talk about a little later.)

Sometimes there's a very strong reason to pick the "I'll make a lot of money, then I'll do what I want" path: medical bills or responsibility for children or parents or both, while living in a society that is vicious towards young, old, sick, and disabled people. But ask yourself: If I'll be able to do The Thing later, when I have X amount of money, can I do it now without the money? And likewise: If I'm afraid to do The Thing now, will having X amount of money actually address the root cause of that fear? Because "I need to have X amount of savings before I do Y" tends to turn into "no, no, I was wrong, I need X*Z amount of savings first". The goalposts never stop moving. When you were 12, maybe you thought all you needed was rent money and enough food to eat. At 25, maybe that turns into a down payment on a house, and at 30, maybe a hot tub in the yard, a nice car, and a vacation home. Centering yourself on what really matters now builds a foundation on which it remains easier to not forget what mattered to you in the face of the distractions capitalism will try to sell you (especially when you spend all day in an office with people who also believe they can buy their way to personal fulfillment).

Another thing to keep in mind: even if you are a person who can put in 8+ hours a day at a professional job, then leave and spend 6+ hours on your art (and not sleep much), you don't really know how much time you have before becoming too disabled to do both. Might be 60 years. Might be 1 year. All abled people are temporarily abled, and some of the most common disabilities and chronic illnesses take your excess energy first. Not to mention that chronic stress both from toxic jobs and double-timing tends to trigger any latent predispositions to those illnesses.

Especially now, in 2017: there is only the present; stability in the future is a lie.

Keep in mind reading all of this, I don't necessarily know the answer or the plan, not even for me and certainly not for you. I'm 36 and still in a job I'm ambivalent about on the best days, and I want to buy a house and adopt kids; renting a room doesn't afford much space for musical instruments or my sewing machine or more animals, much less kids. At this point, I don't have the conviction that the writing and art I want to make are worth delaying those plans for (the plans that more closely resemble the lives of my peers, my college friends and my office co-workers, and have their own appeal).

A few months ago I was driving through Iowa and bought a new hardcover copy of Bruce Springsteen's autobiography on impulse. When I started reading it, I loved the writing but I had to set it aside because some uncomfortable feeling overwhelmed me, and a little later I realized it was envy: of people like him and his friends who got to spend their time, from early teens onwards, playing the kind of music they wanted to play. I was playing music when I was a teenager, too, but I hated it, and stopped as soon as I had the freedom to. It took me my entire adult life so far to want to do it again. My other musical hero, John Darnielle, worked day jobs for most of his career. Envy, as well, because I can't seem to find work that isn't primarily emotional labor (even when my business card says "engineer") and that doesn't leave me with much at the end of the day to put into art.

So while part of me knows it's not too late, part of me is too busy grieving over all the time I lost to be able to make a new plan. If you're younger, and don't have as many sunk costs, maybe listen to whatever inside you makes you feel the most alive. And if you're older than me, do it too so I'll have more examples to look to.

Another reason why the original advice is garbage: yes, Wallace Stevens was an insurance agent. But I suspect that if you look at the writers you like, you'll find more people who can write because they have a partner who financially supports them than you'll find full-time engineers or lawyers who are part-time writers. This is sort of a dirty little secret. The best thing you can do to be a successful artist is major in whatever you want, then marry rich.

This doesn't mean you should marry for money. It does mean that "bust your ass doing 2-3 jobs if you want to earn the right to be an artist" is toxic victim-blaming capitalist pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps bullshit, because a lot of the artists you admire got there because someone else worked full-time to support them, not because they moonlighted. The good luck of being loved by someone with money should not be confused with hard work.

Aside from economics, something I think stops a lot of younger people from following their vision is belief in scarcity: there are a lot of people who want to be musicians and writers, and many who are more talented than you, so why bother? Even if you make a living off it, you won't be famous. There are too many novels and no one will read yours; too many bands and no one will go to your shows. Sound familiar? It does for me.

The more time passes, the more I think that's a seductive lie, too, not because you will get famous, but because that probably isn't what you want anyway. What you do want is time to spend doing the work that makes you feel whole.

'You hold onto Berryman’s line – “It is idle to reply to critics” – and understand that the actual work isn’t the thing you make, but the process that makes it, whose inherent value and dignity is well beyond any debate, because it is an expression of your self and therefore nobody can really judge it.' -- John Darnielle
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